Half of the total Dutch production value in Life Sciences & Health (around ten billion euros) is accounted for by the province of North Brabant. Almost a quarter of all jobs in this sector end up in this province. Biotech, in particular, is growing rapidly: the number of new establishments has grown by 43% since 2014 and the number of jobs in this industry has doubled.
Brainport (Medtech) and North-East Brabant (pharma) are the hotspots. Other top locations in the Netherlands are the regions of Leiden and Utrecht.
All this is evident from the recently published study ‘Life Sciences & Health Sector‘ commissioned by the Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (BOM). The more than 200 pages of the research report offer a broad picture of this sector and the role within it of the Brabant based companies, campuses, knowledge institutions, and governments.
“The aim of the study is to give foreign companies a detailed overview of the Life Sciences sector in Brabant, including the strengths and opportunities of our region,” says BOM project leader Thijs Taminiau. “The sector in Brabant has shown above-average growth in recent years. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of LS&H initiatives in Brabant grew by more than 11% and employment growth was even higher at 15.4%.” According to Taminiau, the “constructive cooperation model” is an important reason for the distinctive character of Brabant in this sector. “In short: building partnerships in this region is a fast and smooth process – faster than anywhere else. People or companies who want to join and make a contribution, adapt, and benefit quickly and easily.”
Brabant nationally leading in LS&H production
Brabant makes an important contribution to the production value of the Life Sciences & Health sector in the Netherlands. In 2014 (the last year for which CBS published figures), the Brabant Production Value in the sector amounted to more than 5 billion euros, more than the production value of the other eleven provinces combined.
The success in the field of Life Sciences & Health is no coincidence, the researchers write. “Brabant has the highest innovation intensity in the Netherlands. The total Research & Development expenditure in the private sector, relative to the Regional Gross Domestic Product, amounts to 2.99%: more than double the national average (1.15%). To illustrate this: in Europe, Brabant is number five in the list of regions with the highest number of patent applications.”
Brabant has 910 registered establishments of Life Sciences & Health companies, accounting for 18,160 jobs. This is respectively 15.6% and 23.5% of the total Dutch Life Sciences & Health sector. With Philips and MSD, there are well-known big names within the sector, but there are also plenty of relatively unknown ones. Below are, in terms of employees, the largest LS&H companies in Brabant. These are the organizations that are officially marked as part of this sector. According to the BOM, there are also hundreds of other companies that are active in the sector, either independently or as suppliers, but for administrative reasons formally fall outside the sector. Think of companies such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, VDL, Neways, Siemens, Sioux, and Kulicke & Soffa.
About 40% of all Dutch jobs in the production of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations can be found in Brabant. In the production of irradiation equipment, electromedical and electrotherapeutic equipment (such as imaging, health monitoring, and detection equipment), Brabant is even more dominant with a share of almost three-quarters of all jobs in the Netherlands.
Research and development in biotech, in particular, has grown rapidly, the report shows. The number of sites grew by 43% and the number of jobs almost tripled (+260%). “This spectacular growth is largely due to the success of the Brabant biopharmaceutical research campus Pivot Park and its neighbors MSD (Merck) Pharmaceutical Operations and Biologicals and Aspen. In 7 years time, Pivot Park, built on the foundation of Organon Research, has grown into the home of 60 biopharmaceutical research companies and institutes with almost 600 employees.”
“The strength of Brabant”
According to the researchers, there are 7 aspects that indicate the strength of Brabant in the field of Life Science & Health:
- the complete value chain (see picture above),
- the distinctive cooperation model,
- the geographical position within Europe,
- the manufacturing industry around Biopharma and MedTech,
- the campuses Pivot Park and High Tech Campus,
- the knowledge institutes TU Eindhoven, Radboud University Nijmegen, Holst Centre, and JADS,
- the MedTech cluster around Philips.
“The presence of a complete value chain in the field of Medtech and Pharma shows that Brabant has a mature and thriving LS&H sector”, concludes Taminiau. “The presence of, among other things, research, production, and logistics in a relatively small geographical area is something to be proud of, but it is above all an invitation to foreign companies to become part of this ecosystem.”