Sustainability and innovation

The Netherlands: innovation leader and hotspot for start-ups

Innovation, entrepreneurship and team spirit are engrained in the Dutch mentality. Our centuries-old battle against the water has produced innovative and smart solutions, such as our famous dikes, as well as a cooperative mindset. The Netherlands has a rich history of innovation – the Dutch invented Bluetooth, wi-fi, the CD and the DVD – and this continues today, as evidenced by the Netherlands’ third spot in the Global Innovation Index (WIPO, 2019), which ranks 130 economies and countries. The Netherlands scores particularly well on innovation output and knowledge absorption.

As a result of its open, collaborative culture and strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, the Netherlands is now home to a flourishing start-up ecosystem. The country’s top digital infrastructure, highly educated, tech-savvy, multilingual workforce and open-minded people make it an attractive test market for new business concepts. Adyen,, Ticketswap are all examples of young Dutch companies that have grown into successful global enterprises. The Netherlands has also introduced the one-year start-up visa for ambitious entrepreneurs who want to launch an innovative business.

Utrecht Region: hotspot for healthy urban living

Utrecht Region is the most innovative region in the Netherlands (Regional Innovation Scoreboard, European Commission 2019), scoring high on public-private partnerships and higher education. Its business climate is innovative, progressive, green and approachable. Utrecht Region is the European frontrunner in creating and implementing future health technologies, urban solutions on air quality, smart mobility, urban sustainable planning, an inclusive society, renewable energy and energy efficiency, green public spaces and urban biodiversity.

Healthy urban living solutions

Life sciences and health as well as sustainability are the key focal points of Utrecht Science Park. Here, research institutes, academic medical centres and companies all collaborate to develop new solutions that enable people to live longer and healthier lives. Research fields within the sustainability theme include water quality and management, climate and ecosystems, future energy and resources, the circular economy, smart sustainable cities and healthy urban living.

Utrecht Region offers room for companies to develop, test and market new solutions for healthy urban living on an international scale. It is a perfect living lab to come up with and apply new technologies. Utrecht Central Station is an icon for urban sustainable transformation in the Netherlands.

If you set up your business in Utrecht Region, you join one of the most innovative, healthy and sustainable business environments in the Netherlands.

Open, accessible ecosystem for start-ups

Utrecht Region provides an inspirational environment for aspiring entrepreneurs. There are various hubs in the city that focus on innovative sustainability. Utrecht University’s incubator Utrecht Inc., a creative hotspot for start-ups in the fields of healthcare, healthy environments and education, is one of the best university incubators in the world (World Top Business Incubator, 2018). Start-up Utrecht drives forward innovative start-ups and scale-ups in Utrecht Region by helping them get access to capital, corporates, customers and skills.

Other creative hotspots for entrepreneurs and organizations that focus on green initiatives and technology include the Utrecht Community (UCo), Jaarbeurs Innovation Mile, Social Impact Factory, Hof van Cartesius.

Key advantages of Utrecht Region

Talented & Innovative Minds

A green region with a rich cultural life and an inspiring community of companies, universities and research institutes ensures a constant flow of talent.

Healthy Urban Living

Companies, universities and research institutes, government and residents in Utrecht Region combine their strengths for a healthy, innovative and sustainable society. Healthy people. Healthy minds. Healthy environment.

New ideas through cross-sector collaboration

One of the ways Utrecht Region manages to cultivate an urban environment that fosters healthy lifestyles is through its thriving digital and games industry, as technology and insights from this sector are applied to challenges in healthcare.

Key investment opportunities

  • Smart mobility
  • Smart sustainable cities
  • Health innovation
  • Public health

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