© IO

At a first glance, the city of Eindhoven may look a bit out of place among ‘rising global tech contenders’ like Detroit, Manchester, Bogota, and Cape Town. But that’s, indeed, just a first glance. “Eindhoven absolutely belongs to this list”, assures Jordy Kleemans, Head of Research and Consultancy for Savills in the Netherlands.

International real estate consultant Savills is seeing global shifts under Tech Cities due to the increasing attention for welfare in society. This is shown in its Tech Cities 2021 research program. The program has been ranking the best cities for office users and talent in the tech sector since 2015. In spite of 2020’s upheavals, the Tech Megacities continue to dominate VC investment, led by Beijing and San Francisco. Singapore has received a boost, benefiting in part from the US-China trade war.

This year’s research has received a slightly different approach because of the impact of COVID-19, Kleemans explains. “The pandemic has led to a reassessment by some about what makes a good place to be. Wellness matters more than ever. A city’s access to open space, cycle networks, and clean air has risen in importance. We had already been observing a shift away from some of the major urban centers in favor of smaller ones. The cost of living for talent, in addition to rising office rents, was a big factor in this.”

Eindhoven seems to have benefitted from this change in behavior, Savills concludes. “Now health and wellness are becoming an even greater factor in location decisions. The pandemic has been a catalyst for change, and we expect to see cities of all sizes respond to the challenge.”

Partly for this reason, Savills has expanded its research program this year with an additional ranking: the ‘Digital Nomad Essentials Index’. On this index, Eindhoven takes second place, just behind Melbourne. Data was taken from elements like air quality, broadband speed, the cost of a vega burger, and flex desk services. Savills split the specific lists into three categories: Tech Megacities, Tech Lifestyle Cities, and Rising Global Tech Contenders. Eindhoven is in the last category, Amsterdam (placed #4 in last year’s overall list) in the second.

© Savills

Jordy Kleemans, now living in Amsterdam but with a personal history in Eindhoven as well, is happy with the ‘podium’ that Eindhoven has received in this year’s ranking. “It’s good to notice that our global data research results are fully in line with what we see locally in the Netherlands. Of course, we understand that it is hard to compare Eindhoven to cities like San Francisco and Singapore, but what we do know is that the power of the Brainport Eindhoven region gives the city something that others lack. Eindhoven is a center of tech and innovation in the Netherlands. It’s a region in which companies, governments, and educational institutions can collaborate on projects. Lower cost of living than, for example, Amsterdam and higher quality of life scores will continue to draw talent and businesses to the city. The openness to tech has boosted Eindhoven’s economic growth and international reputation.”

Kleemans also mentions the importance of the High Tech Campus, “which bills itself as ‘the smartest km2 in Europe’.” This campus houses over 220 companies and 12,000 researchers. This wasn’t enough though, to make it to Savills’ five best campuses on earth.

© Savills

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Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.