Brabant is increasingly becoming a magnet for foreign R&D

20 February 2020

The province of Brabant is increasingly becoming a magnet for foreign companies seeking to set up their R&D activities in Europe. Of all the projects that involved companies seeking new locations or wishing to expand their business that the Brabant Development Agency (BOM) oversaw in 2019, over a quarter of them entailed an element of R&D. This was one of the facts that emerged from the annual figures released by BOM Foreign Investments.

In 2019 BOM Foreign Investments assisted 50 foreign companies to establish themselves or extend their operations in Brabant. These projects entailed a total of €238 million in investments, projected to create 2,302 new jobs over the next three years.

Eelko Brinkhoff, Director

Never before have we overseen so many projects in a single year and the same can be said of the R&D portion. In view of the current conditions, I do not hesitate to call this an exceptional result.

Eelko Brinkhoff, Director - BOM Foreign Investments & International Trade.

These figures demonstrate that Brabant is emerging from a negative trend that regions across the globe are dealing with. "Geopolitical tensions, trade wars and uncertainty when it comes to future developments such as Brexit have all led to a high degree of reticence amongst foreign investors," Brinkhoff said. "These results confirm the value of a strong brand in a turbulent world, and they demonstrate that our strategy works. Thanks to the years of investing in our network of contacts and promoting Brabant as a region for businesses to settle in, we have been able to attract an increasing number of projects, even in these difficult times."

In recent years the province and BOM have upped their investments in their international network and Brabant's reputation abroad. "It is great news that, thanks to the choices we made, we are attracting an increasing number of R&D activities," said Martijn van Gruijthuijsen, Vice-governor for Economy, Knowledge and Talent Development. "These companies bolster the regional ecosystem, making a lasting contribution to our international competitive and innovative strengths."

Technical Talent

Delta Electronics is one of the foreign companies that announced last year it would be extending its R&D operations. After 15 years in Eindhoven, the Taiwanese company will be moving into its new building on the Automotive Campus in Helmond in 2021. Tim Lee, the Industrial Automation business group's General Manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), has much praise for the ready availability of technical talent and the local ecosystem. "We want to play a leading role in the creation of sustainable solutions for smart cities, and all the ingredients we require to achieve this are present here," he said.

Top sectors

Some 28 percent of the projects that BOM oversaw in 2019 entailed an R&D element, up from 17 percent in the previous year. These foreign companies are mostly involved in the top sectors of high-tech systems & materials, IT, and life sciences & health. "The example of Delta Electronics fits well with our ambition of getting foreign companies that already have a presence in the province to connect with the regional innovation ecosystem," said Brinkhoff. "We have seen a steady growth in the number of leads involving R&D for many years now, and while last year may have been an outlier, an average level of 20 to 25 percent a year for confirmed projects must be feasible. That does however require that we continue investing in our international network and in profiling Brabant as a great partner for foreign companies active in those sectors."

In that respect BOM Foreign Investments works closely with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) and regional partners such as Brainport Development, REWIN, Brabant municipalities, and campuses like High Tech Campus and Pivot Park. "Together we are able to reach ever more foreign companies that can boost the region," said Brinkhoff, "and that means that – even in these challenging times – we are able to make the difference for Brabant."