Utrecht Region one of Europe’s most competitive regions

According to the European Commission, the region is once again one of the most competitive regions in Europe. The Regional Competitiveness Index (RCI) released today ranks Utrecht joint second with London. Stockholm is number one. Issued every three years, the index rates the competitiveness of 268 European regions on the basis of more than 70 indicators. These indicators relate to factors such as innovation, accessibility, digital infrastructure, education, health and the job market.

The King’s Commissioner for the Province of Utrecht, Hans Oosters: ‘Compliments to everyone who helped us achieve this top position. Together, we managed to maintain this region’s status as a first-class climate in which to live, work and invest. We cannot rest on our laurels, though. Utrecht is growing rapidly and is facing some major challenges. For example, take the energy transition or the issues of accessibility and housing. To this end, innovation is required: the more we are capable of adapting, the more likely it is that our towns and cities will continue to be as appealing as they are at present.’

Mayor of Utrecht Jan van Zanen: ‘It is not a complete surprise that Utrecht is ranked so high in this index. Our educational and health-care institutions as well as our businesses have demonstrated for years now that we’re in Europe’s vanguard. We did not reach this position without an effort, however. It is due to all the people living and working here that Utrecht is one of the most competitive regions.’

Mayor of Amersfoort Lucas Bolsius: ‘This success is down not only to the fantastic dedication of companies and research institutes but especially to our residents. If we’re to keep our high rating in future, we’ll need to look ahead and invest in the region’s human capital. In order to fulfil our sustainability targets, we’ll need more, better-equipped technical workers for such tasks as insulating houses and installing solar panels. As a region, we will facilitate this process, enabling businesses to keep innovating.’

Consistently at the top

Utrecht has been one of Europe’s most competitive regions since the RCI started back in 2010. The region has consistently scored well in this study. Another striking fact is that the RCI rates a non-capital city region as the most competitive in just three of the 28 EU countries. According to the RCI 2019, Utrecht is the most competitive non-capital city region in Europe.

Encouraging innovative SMEs

One of the Utrecht Region’s significant strengths is the close cooperation between authorities, companies, research institutes and educational institutions. Examples include the Economic Board Utrecht (EBU) and Utrecht Science Park (USP). Such cooperation ensures that they can swiftly find one another and start new initiatives. The RCI 2019 shows that Utrecht has managed to improve its innovation score compared with the previous edition. In order to continue building this position, the region is bolstering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) capacity for innovation by founding a regional development agency (regionale ontwikkelingsmaatschappij, ROM). The ROM will work on the development and funding of innovative businesses and projects that contribute to creating a healthy living environment.

Towards becoming Europe’s number one cycling region

Utrecht Region is a central hub and scores well in terms of accessibility. Investments are needed to keep up this position. The increase in population growth and mobility has put the economy as well as the quality of life in the towns and cities under pressure.

Tackling this issue will require not only more investment but also a smarter way of dealing with accessibility. To this end, the provincial executive and the local authorities are investing heavily in multi-modal transport. Examples of essential aspects in this regard are improving the points where people transfer from bicycle to public transport and promoting cycling as the way to get from A to B over shorter distances. The city of Utrecht recently opened the world’s largest bicycle storage facility. Our collective ambition is to become Europe’s number one cycling region.

Healthy urban living

The region is growing. Resulting challenges in terms of living and working comfortably as well as healthily in our towns and cities call for innovative solutions. These solutions require a concerted effort on the part of the business community, authorities and research institutes. Utrecht Region will continue to engage in close cooperation when it comes to devising smart, flexible solutions. With this regard, the region is giving companies ample space for developing, testing and bringing to market new technologies capable of contributing to healthy urban living.

European investments

In our efforts to develop the regional infrastructure for businesses and research institutes, Utrecht Region makes effective use of financial support from the European Fund for Regional Development. For instance, the Economic Board Utrecht and Utrecht Science Park have their origins in European projects, while UMC Utrecht is now capable of 3D printing organs thanks to technological advances funded by the EU.

More than 60% of the EU subsidies allocated to the Province of Utrecht go to Utrecht’s research institutes and training establishments. Through these investments, the EU is supporting Utrecht’s economy and innovation, particularly in the life sciences and health-care sector. This support bolsters Utrecht’s profile of Healthy Urban Living.

See our website for more information on how the region is doing so.