Why the Netherlands is the new Silicon Valley

This is an abbreviated version of an article written by by Andriana Boyrikova Every day we keep reading about the astounding progress happening in the world’s high-tech leader – San Francisco’s Silicon Valley. Yet, there is something we are missing. A geographically rather small country is gradually transforming into the new power in tech innovations. With its everyday top-notch scientific and technological advancements and highly qualified workforce, the Netherlands is steadily becoming the new Silicon Valley.  

With a # 1 startup business climate in the European Union, with its highly educated pool of tech-savvy experts, and its open corporate business culture, it  has shaped a rare start-up ecosystem on the continent.

The Dutch technological prowess is not concentrated mainly in its capital city. Numerous booming tech hubs can be found all over the country. The Dutch start-up ecosystem spreads out from the south to its very north and its scientific and tech achievements can undoubtedly surpass those of the current high-tech backbone – San Francisco’s Silicon Valley.


Amsterdam, or the start-up capital of Europe and city #3 of start-ups and scale-ups for 2016, is a magnet for tech-savvy talent and growth. The city’s programmes StartupAmsterdam and StartupDelta help start-ups strengthen, connect and grow. Amsterdam also houses Amsterdam Science Park – a juncture of high-quality technical facilities, research institutes, Science and Business Database, and Start-Up Village – a co-working space for innovative high-tech and science based start-ups.

What is more, it was in Amsterdam’s startup ecosystem where the FinTech unicorns Adyen, Catawiki, Takeaway, Booking and Elastic were born.

Amsterdam – the startup capital of Europe. Photo: Amsterdam Science Park.


Eindhoven, the birthplace of Philips electronics, is also home to “the smartest square mile in Europe” – High Tech Campus. The business park was originally the place where Philips Research (the NatLab) was located. Now, it is a melting pot of tech-savvy talent where more than 140 high-tech companies such as ASML, IBM, Philips, NXP, and Intel are located, together with 10,000 researchers. Besides, the city has a vast network of academic and R&D facilities including the Eindhoven University of Technology. Thanks to its exceptional high-tech and design climate, the city has also attracted the Silicon Valley-based Singularity University to open an innovation hub there. The mission of the innovation hub is to bring together industry leaders from start-ups, research institutions, businesses, and government to create and apply technology “to address humanity’s grand challenges”.

Eindhoven houses “the smartest square kilometre in Europe”. Photo: leapfunder.com.


Groningen, famously known as “the city of talent”, has the largest number of successful start-ups after Amsterdam, according to Deloitte Fast50. The ranking lists the 50 fastest growing Dutch technology companies. For 2016, twelve companies were based in Amsterdam, followed by seven in Groningen. Moreover, last year, the Internet giant Google opened its second data centre in Eemschaven in North Groningen. Groningen also houses “the most ambitious business accelerator for startups and existing companies in the Northern Netherlands” – VentureLab North. At the same time, the portal Founded in Groningen connects, supports and promotes start-ups, companies and initiatives with the impressive background of 435 companies Founded in Groningen.

Groningen – “the city of talent”. Photo: planum.net.


Delft, the manufacturing base for the famous Delft pottery, is home to the country’s largest tech university – Delft University of Technology. It is also one of the most student cities in the Netherlands, with students comprising 10%-15% of its roughly 100,000 inhabitants. This vibrant city is all about high-tech innovation. Engineering and hardware are among the strongest focuses in the city.

The city’s high-tech ecosystem is also where the startup incubator YES!Delft was born. With already 12 years of experience the YES!Delft ecosystem has supported more than 200 technology companies – “from inkless printing to cutting edge laser technology.”

Delft – “it’s all about high-tech innovation”. Photo: TU Delft.


Named most competitive region in Europe (LINK: https://international.hu.nl/News/Utrechtse-regio-opnieuw-in-top-van-Europas-meest-concurrerende-regios) , by the EU, Utrecht is not only home to cutting-edge innovations but also to one of the healthiest and most sustainable living environments in the world. The city houses Utrecht Science park which is the country’s heart of regenerative medicine, 3D-bioprinting, stem cells and organoids, cancer research and cure, and smart sustainable cities. The Utrecht Science park has over 80 organizations and businesses with a workforce of 22,000 employees, which is roughly 21% of the entire population of the city. In addition, Utrecht’s ecosystem conceived one of the 10 best incubators in Europe – UtrechtInc. Last year, the incubator officially opened its UtrechtInc Garage, which is a creative hotspot for sustainable start-ups.

Utrecht – one of the healthiest and most sustainable living environments in the world. Photo: Utrecht Science Park.

The Hague

Last, but definitely not least, The Hague, the International City of Peace and Justice, is the leading security cluster in Europe – The Hague Security Delta Campus. It supports cyber security start-ups and together with businesses, governments, and knowledge institutions work on innovations in the field of cyber security, national and urban security, protection of critical infrastructure, and forensics.

The Hague – the major European hub for cyber security. Photo: theconferencethehague.com.

The Netherlands has cultivated an exceptional ecosystem for disruptive innovation and development in high-tech and science, talented information technology workers, and aspiring entrepreneurship which makes the country a worthy bearer of the name “the new Silicon Valley”.

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