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The Mainports of Rotterdam and Schiphol are still important for the Dutch economy, but Brainport Eindhoven has acquired an equally strong position as the engine of business in the Netherlands. The Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Raad voor de Leefomgeving en Infrastructuur, Rli) conducted an extensive investigation into the sources of power for the Dutch economy and concludes that traditional main ports have become less dominant. The internet economy – based around the Amsterdam Internet Exchange – and Brainport Eindhoven have become equally important.

The Council for the Environment and Infrastructure is the strategic advisory board for government and parliament on the broad field of sustainable development of the environment and infrastructure. For that reason their report “Beyond Mainports“, presented to the Ministers of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure and the Environment on July 1, will be an important building stone for the next national coalition agreement.

That’s exactly the importance that Imke Carsouw, managing director of Brainport Development, wants to stress. “Especially considering our ever-stronger links with economic centers in the Randstad, it’s obvious that you have to look at national economic policy in an integral way. The fact that the Rli now recognises our role so clearly is a nice signal. Especially because it shows that we can join forces with the mainports.”

Eindhoven’s mayor Rob van Gijzel, president of the Brainport Foundation, also sees important clues to strengthen the Dutch economy: “In fact, the Council recommends a choice for a new economic model where the investment and location climate is central. It’s all about the new economy and other forms of cooperation.”

“Brainport Eindhoven region is characterised by high added value in quality products”

The Council notes that the Mainport concept has worked vigorously and that the Mainport policy of the government since the 80s has contributed a lot to the development of the port of Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport. The policy of those years, with the goal of developing the Netherlands into a distribution country, has been realised. But now it’s time to broaden the focus, the Councils says. From the report: “Brainport Eindhoven region is characterised by high added value in quality products, emphasis on research & development and successful cooperation within the triple helix. Other regions can take lessons from this example.”

The port of Rotterdam with its direct and indirect activities in 2015 contributed 3.1% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Netherlands, compared to 6% in 1992. Schiphol Airport had a share of 1.4% of GDP in 2015. The Council gives no exact GDP figures for Brainport, but according to other studies this comes down to about 5% of the Gross Domestic Product.