Zuid-Holland’s economy is one of the most innovative
The innovation power of the Zuid-Holland economy has greatly improved during the past few years, according to the Province of Zuid-Holland's research into the innovation power and potential of the Dutch provinces.
The ING Economic Bureau has validated the research and confirms its results. In 2014, Zuid-Holland still came last in the ranking of innovative regions, but now it takes second place after Noord-Brabant. Zuid-Holland has greatly improved its innovation power through sizeable investments in innovation, above-average business dynamics, and increasing labour productivity. Business dynamics is the number of formations and closures of businesses with respect to the total number of businesses. This number is indexed according to the provinces (average score of 100).
Increase in investments
An important explanation of this is the increased number of investments in the field of innovation in Zuid-Holland, which amounted to almost €2 billion during a period of 2 years, of which €750 million was contributed by the public sector (local authorities and knowledge institutions). The share of foreign investments is also on the rise: in 2017, more than 30% of the companies that settled in The Netherlands opted for Zuid-Holland. That was 20% in 2014.
Regional Minister Adri Bom-Lemstra (Economic Affairs) is delighted with this result. “A few years ago, we started working in a more targeted manner with our partners, to stimulate the economic top industries in Zuid-Holland. We developed new investment projects to that end. It is good to see that our efforts bear concrete results.”
In 2014, the ING Economic Bureau’s ranking did not work out well for Zuid-Holland. This ranking was one of the province's reasons to join forces with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the large municipalities in Zuid-Holland and the knowledge institutions, to establish the regional development company InnovationQuarter. At this point, Innovation Quarter has 3 investment funds (in total €137 million) and was the most active investor in The Netherlands during the past year. Furthermore, its responsibilities include attracting foreign companies to the region and promoting complex joint ventures and innovation projects with companies. According to Bom-Lemstra, InnovationQuarter's efforts have “evidently strengthened” Zuid-Holland's innovative climate, as confirmed once more by IQ's latest annual report. Local authorities, the business community and the universities in Zuid-Holland are also constantly getting better at cooperating through new associations, programmes and agendas, for example: the Roadmap Next Economy or the Investment Agenda for Zuid-Holland, presented to prime minister Mark Rutte in 2016.
The Province and the Government have significantly increased the subsidies for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) over the past few years. During this council's term, €28 million in subsidy was spent on 364 innovative companies through the Guarantee of SME Credit Regulations in Top segments, and in 2018, a further €14 million will be made available for SME-initiatives in the region. The Province has also continued to strive for the establishment of organisations such as the aeronautic research institute SRON and the UN Climate Institute. Bom-Lemstra: “Also because this kind of institute can further boost the innovations”.
An economy's innovative power is measured by, among other things, the presence of highly educated persons, knowledge workers, self-employed persons and innovative jobs. Zuid-Holland has always scored well on this point. But comparative studies by the ING Economic Bureau into the Dutch regions’ economy (2014) showed that Zuid-Holland was unable to use that potential sufficiently. That is why Zuid-Holland's innovative power lagged far behind.
At the Province's initiative, this research was repeated 4 years later, with a validation by the ING Economic Bureau. Bom-Lemstra: “Economically speaking, we already were a strong region 4 years ago, but it failed to materialise sufficiently. We have succeeded now, of which I am very proud”.