Abstract

Lying below sea level, the Dutch region of Zuid-Holland is facing a huge challenge adapting to climate change. As a gateway to Europe via the port of Rotterdam, the region is investing heavily in smart and clean transport. Likewise, the metropolitan region must feed the city and provide a safe, clean and healthy environment for its citizens.

Strong economic clusters are bringing innovative solutions in response to these interrelated challenges. This is why the focus is not only on developing but also testing innovations in field labs, as a 24/7 real-life testing ground to develop solutions which can make a real contribution to solving Europe’s societal challenges. This approach demands crossovers between disciplines and sectors and sharing expertise with other European cities and regions to mobilise all competences needed, continuously improve strategies and learn from one another.

Another important contribution towards Europe’s grand societal challenges is reflected in the EUR 1 billion European investments made in the 2007-2014 period and EUR 700 million already funded in the 2014-2020 period. European investments in research and development based on excellence are important and prove the strength of our clusters.

Unique European large-scale open access R&D facilities, like the NeCEN microscope and the Bioprocess Pilot Facility, are financed by the ERDF, along with Dutch valorisation centres and incubators such as YES!Delft. Achievements include 160 start-ups, hundreds of patented technologies, active companies in more than 80 countries, invested capital of over EUR 130 million and more than 1000 jobs.

The InnovationQuarter agency supports regional economic development through a revolving fund – partly financed by the ERDF. Next to this, the partners in the region are working with the European Investment Bank on a regional investment platform to boost private investments.

These investments are an important foundation for our regional innovation ecosystem. Companies work closely together and with knowledge institutions. For instance in the field of life sciences and health companies, three universities, two medical centres and universities of applied science collaborate in the Medical Delta to develop and test solutions for today’s challenges. Especially with regard to ICT the breadth of the Zuid-Holland economy offers opportunities for crossovers. Cross-overs include the application of big data for peace and for protection from floods, 3D printing in the maritime and medical industries, and new medicines based on plant extracts. Working closely with other European regions in several EU networks, such as the Vanguard Initiative, is yet another reason for the Zuid-Holland smart specialisation strategy to be widely regarded as a basis for innovation without boundaries: cross-sectorial, cross-border and cross-fund investing.