Netherlands: Latest trends and future prospects of Life Science & Health Tech Industries



On October 8 of 2019, X-HUB Tokyo, that supports overseas expansion of domestic startups, held a seminar on latest life-science & health-tech trends in the Netherlands and future outlooks. Speakers from the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency gave lectures on the future development of Dutch life-science & the health-tech market. The Netherlands is a technically advanced country that is continuing to be a pioneer in the European market.

The Netherlands has the perfect environment for international business

〈Speaker〉Mr. Jeroen BOKHOVEN

Executive Director for Japan
Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency Japan

Many foreign companies choose the Netherlands due to its strategic location, excellent infrastructure, highly qualified human resources, thanks to its quality of education, and a its high quality of life. The Netherlands is the perfect environment for international business.


The Netherlands is located in the middle of Europe. It is surrounded by the UK, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark. It has great access to major European markets. There is a market with 170 million people within 500 kilometers and there are 250 million people within 24 hours from there. In addition, underwater internet cables from the United States go through to Amsterdam, and it is a well known hub.


One of the greatest infrastructures is the “Port of Rotterdam” which is the largest port in Europe. Schiphol Airport has an international hub with direct flights to 322 cities and 95 countries. As for our railway system, it is connected from China to Tilburg, Netherlands. As a result of this, DHL has bestowed the rank of number one in the world in regards to efficient coordination and movement logistics to the Netherlands.


In the Netherlands, we learn English, French, German, and Dutch starting in junior high school, so they are good at communicating in other languages. We can speak about three or four languages. Thus, establishing a branch in the Netherlands means establishing a true European base.


Last but not least, according to a Dutch Life Satisfaction Survey, the quality of life was evaluated as being high. Dutch children are considered to be the happiest in the world. The living environment has been well-prepared, especially for Japanese people, as the staff in a number of hospitals in Amsterdam can speak Japanese.


It is fairly easy for a company from another country to set up a company in the Netherlands, and it can be set up in about three months. Moreover, it can be established with a capital of zero. As for employment, a flexible employee system is common in the Netherlands.
As for the tax system, the tax rate is quite low relative to other countries. There is also an advantageous tax exemption for foreigners, which can help reduce income taxes. Because of the Social Security Agreement between the Netherlands and Japan, you can use the Japanese social insurance there for five years.
For these reasons, there are about 600 Japanese companies currently there. A majority of those are marketing, sales offices, and logistics bases in Europe. There are also manufacturing and R&D bases. The acquisitions of Dutch companies by Japanese companies are also increasing. On a side note, there are currently about 9,200 Japanese people living in the Netherlands, with approximately half of them living near Amsterdam.


The reason why Japanese companies choose the Netherlands is because Dutch people speak English and are very friendly. We are compatible. It is also highly valued for its excellent geographical location, favorable tax system, and convenient logistics. As a support system for expanding business into the Netherlands, the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, which is located in the Dutch Embassy in Minato-ku, helps many companies start up from the beginning at no cost. If you are interested, please feel free to contact us. Thank you.

The appeal of the Netherlands to biopharma and meditech companies

〈Speaker〉Ms. Sandra DeWILD

Invest in Holland – Life Sciences & Health team, Head of Strategic Projects and Investment Climate

The Netherlands is home to the world’s largest concentration of life science and health-tech centers.
Within a small area, there are 12 universities, 8 medical centers and more than 420 bio and pharmaceutical companies. Among European countries, the Netherlands has been ranked as one of the top three countries for health care systems for many years. Medical centers, universities, and companies have been conducting research in cooperation with each other.


The European Medicines Agency has a relationship with all medical institutions in the Netherlands, and has about 200-300 experts that attend various conferences every day, with related university officials and other related parties.
51 regulatory authorities in 31 European countries have their offices in the Netherlands and because these regulators all communicate with other institutions, the network is very unique.
All EMA member countries work together to provide and share relevant expertise, such as information on new drugs and new safety therapies. Therefore, when expanding business into Europe, you have to abide by a single, unified system. There are various systems. Some of them apply to everything, but there are some that require special applications, like when dealing with rare diseases. If you try expanding into two or three countries, the way you apply for certification will be different.


Recently, we have been actively pursuing innovative approaches to regulated chemistry, and I think there is a possibility that Japan can cooperate with them in this field. For example, when selling bio-pharma products in Europe, a special application or obtaining a certification for a research institute is required, if it is not made in Europe. The Netherlands is not only very active when it comes to manufacturing, but also in quality control, and they provide various services to other countries.

Thinking of solutions to social challenges through innovation


〈Speaker〉Mr. Eric VAN KOOIJ

Counsellor for Science, Technology and Innovation
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

It is not an overstatement to say that the Netherlands is supported by innovation. We, Dutch people, are an ambitious group and our aspirations and desires for better improvement support economic growth. The challenge now is how to use the power of innovation to solve social issues. We are thinking of solutions by applying our knowledge and basic technologies. Social issues include energy transition, sustainability, food, agriculture, business, health, healthcare, and security, but among them, we place health care and improvement of the life cycle as the most important challenges. I do not think we can solve these issues without global cooperation. We would like to actively participate in the Horizon Europe initiative and work on solving issues while maintaining international cooperation.


We are launching new innovation measures in the specific field of life sciences, and we believe that it is very important to participate in civil society’s actual efforts in drawing up an innovation roadmap.
In the new field of health care, we set up a three-year innovation plan which aims to prolong healthy life expectancy by five years by the year 2040 and to reduce the health gap between the impoverished and affluent by 3%.


Collaboration with research institutions is important, but it also requires the support of entrepreneurs. It would be difficult to realize these innovations without startups. Therefore, we are developing activities that support entrepreneurs. The ecosystem has a part to play in the improvement of startups, such as financial arrangements, project support/cooperation, providing offices, and technical assistance.
We have a long diplomatic history with Japan, and of course, we have a friendly relationship in the medical field as well. As innovations in the healthcare and life sciences fields are becoming active, we kindly ask for your cooperation. Thank you.