Economy and business climate

Regions differ in their ability to attract people and businesses. There are several explanations for this. Geopolitical and societal developments have changed perspectives on economic success and progress. The need for a transition to a low-carbon economy is now globally recognized.

Economic progress

Economic theories explain the economic growth and competitiveness of regions from different perspectives.

Agglomeration and network strength
Large cities have an advantage due to a diverse supply of well-trained workers. There are also better sales opportunities and lower transport costs due to the proximity of production sites and sales markets. The Netherlands has no big cities. It all comes down to making good use of and strengthening the (international) network position of cities and regions.

Diversity and specialization
A diverse economic structure with a few solid export-oriented sectors makes a region less vulnerable and is a suitable basis for responsible economic growth.

Quality of the location
With increasing competition between regions, the location climate will make the difference. International companies and knowledge workers demand the quality of housing, the immediate living environment, nature, recreational facilities and cultural amenities.

Innovation in economic clusters
Innovation requires cooperation between companies, universities, knowledge institutions and the government. In the Netherlands, Brainport Eindhoven and Food Valley Wageningen are good examples. Economic clusters are complex to copy and are a good breeding ground for innovation.

Changing perspectives

Due to geopolitical and social developments, discussions arise about the desired and necessary perspectives for action. Coalitions of parties organize themselves around different ‘discourses’ that provide new starting points for policy and implementation.

Knowledge economy
Cooperation between companies, universities and governments is a success factor for economic growth and innovation. Around internationally operating companies and university centres, startups emerge to market new high-quality products and services internationally. Brainport Eindhoven and Food Valley Wageningen are striking examples.

Circular economy worldwide
The energy transition requires the availability of rare materials and other essential inputs. Scarce raw materials (including rare materials) are necessary to play an active tole in the energy transition and other technological trajectories. One way of coping with input scarcity is joining the circular economy, implying well-organized reuse, refurbishing and recycling processes. Examples include the demand for microchips and rare earth materials. The increasing demand for scarce raw materials calls for greater use of recycling.

Smart cities
Artificial intelligence (AI), robotization and ‘Internet of Things’ offer opportunities for companies. Besides highly skilled knowledge workers, investments in digital (knowledge) infrastructure and high-quality business locations are needed. These include the roll-out of fibre optics, superfast internet 5G, smart grids and the arrival of data centres.