19 foreign companies chose to expand to Utrecht Region in 2020 despite the global pandemic

Press release

The influx of new foreign companies combined with the expansion of already established ones generates more than 20 million euros of investment for the Utrecht Region. It is expected that this will create more than 575 jobs. The number of business investments remains the same as in 2019. This result is satisfactory when considering the nationwide decline in the number of investment projects by 25%.


Despite the positive outcome for 2020 within the Utrecht region, the pandemic is adversely affecting foreign companies' expansion plans. This perspective is prevalent when considering the ratio of newly established companies versus the expansion of existing ones. Of the 19 investment projects, six concerned expansion plans for already established companies within the region, whether or not at a new location. An increase compared to previous years. Due to the ongoing pandemic, a decline in the number of projects and jobs is expected in 2021.

Conversely, entrepreneurs within the Utrecht Region worked hard in 2020 to achieve their international ambitions despite the pandemic. As the Regional Development Agency (ROM) Utrecht Region becomes more visible to entrepreneurs, it has a growing impact on their international aspirations. In 2020, the ROM helped almost 200 companies with their export plans. This result will also lead to job creation within the Utrecht Region.

ROM Utrecht Region

This article marks the first time the ROM Utrecht Region provides international results. The ROM brings together the activities of the regional authorities in the field of international business. In addition, the ROM focuses on investing in startups, scale-ups, and innovative SMEs, supporting young entrepreneurs, and building networks and consortia to strengthen the economic structure. The ROM is part of the Invest in Holland network, which collaborates with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) and the other ROMs to attract foreign companies to the Netherlands.

The cooperation among these government agencies provides more influence to attract foreign companies to the region and help Utrecht entrepreneurs with their export ambitions. This partnership will be needed to get through the crisis faster, ensure the creation of new jobs, and strengthen our core health, digital, and sustainability sectors.

Life Sciences and Health

Life Sciences and Health (LSH) is a prime example of a robust sector within the Utrecht Region. With world-renowned companies at the Utrecht Science Park, strong government institutions such as RIVM (the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) and innovations in the field of medical technology, the Utrecht region is one of the best in the world.

Utrecht's LSH sector is starting to take notice abroad as five of the foreign companies established in Utrecht in 2020 are working within this sector. The Utrecht region also scores highly in the field of media (Hilversum) and digitalisation, as 12% of the region’s working population are ICT professionals.

Foreign companies of great importance

The figures show that foreign companies are (and will continue to be) of great importance to the region. International companies strengthen the regional economy and provide connections to international networks. Investments from abroad are also making an increasing contribution to future-proof employment in the region's vital sectors.


Working on the future-proofing of jobs has only become more critical due to the global pandemic. While unemployment levels are currently stable due to government support measures, it is expected that the economy will need a few more years to recover fully. This recovery period will also impact the number of business locations for foreign companies. The consequences of Covid-19 will also affect the number of foreign companies expanding to the Netherlands. For example, the choice is initially made for a virtual or small-scale office.

However, the current situation also offers opportunities for the region as the importance of Utrecht's central location can become more significant. For example, the demand for central meeting points will increase as remote working becomes commonplace. In addition, there are opportunities for innovation for the sectors in which the Utrecht region is already prevalent, such as LSH and digitisation.


Brexit also plays a role for foreign companies that want to expand to the Netherlands. However, in 2020, many UK-based companies had a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude due to the absence of a finalised deal between the UK and the EU. Companies that have already landed in the Netherlands have done so because of EU licenses for the financial sector. Subsequently, they have mainly landed in Amsterdam. Numerous companies have also moved to Rotterdam and the surrounding area because they trade with the EU and need logistics space on a large scale. Utrecht is particularly attractive for office-related activities, such as headquarters and marketing & sales in sectors such as media, digitisation and LSH.

Further information:

Download the infographic with all results   Get in contact with us 

Interested in possibly expanding your company to Utrecht Region? Find out why Utrecht Region offers you the perfect combination of living, working and doing business:

Read the 5 reasons

The ROM Utrecht Region was founded in 2020 by the province of Utrecht, the municipalities of Amersfoort, Hilversum and Utrecht, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht.

The ROM is for startups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs. We invest in companies, help them professionalise and provide advice, for example on their ambitions abroad. We are also working to encourage more foreign companies to establish themselves in the Utrecht region. We also build valuable networks and ecosystems, between companies and with knowledge institutions, among others. We focus on the themes of healthy people, digitisation and a future-proof living environment. In this way we contribute to better prosperity and well-being in the region.

Go back