“Promoting yourself as a knowledge city takes guts”

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The entrepreneurs from the Leiden Bio Science Park welcomed the Leiden region putting itself forward as a centre of knowledge.
Promoting yourself as such takes courage but provides rewards in return, said OV BSP chairman Harry Flore. “A top university gives the region an enormous presence.”

Focus is Key

“As an entrepreneurs association we work together in various ways: within the park, with the Leiden District Council, with InnovationQuarter Zuid-Holland and with the educational institutions. Last year we joined Economie071.

We understand the other partners welcoming the Bio Science Park as the spearhead for the regional economy. We view this somewhat differently because we focus mainly on Leiden and partly on Oegstgeest. We have much less interaction with the other districts. This explains why we joined later. However, we are pleased about the recognition in the region that we need to invest together in a good knowledge economy. Our park benefits from that focus.

We are continuously thinking about the added value Economie071 has for us because we are primarily interested in results. The most obvious is the value added by improving accessibility. This includes quality public transport, the connection between the A4 and A44 motorways and the Leiden ring road, and also having sufficient parking spaces. There should have been a fast subway between the large cities in the Randstad. Furthermore, we also need a good connection from west to east.”


“Cooperation works best when it grows organically. An example of this is the partnership between the park and two other partners from Economie071, namely the university and the Leiden district council. An exemplary way of working together: we are close to each other and we share the same vision of where we want to be.

There are many enthusiastic people at the district council who can visualize the connection between business, knowledge institutions and the future of the city. The effectiveness of a cooperation often lies on enthusiasm.”

Participation, but not decision making

“Within Economie071 we are easily seen as the representative for all entrepreneurs from the Bio Science Park. We have decided that out entrepreneurs association should only fulfil a sounding board role. Economie071 is a major network for us, where we can bring our interests to the attention of regional education, regional government and draw attention to other matters of entrepreneurship in the region. We share our vision and identify problems so that these can be discussed in Economie071.

We do not commit ourselves to any particular decision because we cannot always satisfy all of our members. We like to participate in the discussions but let politics make the decisions.”

Nationwide lobby

“Biotech is “booming” in the Netherlands, which has led to many districts wanting their own campus. It seems like there is a virus going around the Netherlands. Provinces and districts elsewhere in the country give their full support, while Zuid-Holland pays it little attention.

We believe that clear decisions are needed at a national level so that our position can be maintained. I hoped that Economie071 would play a powerful role in lobbying The Hague. As yet Economie071 has not yet assumed that role but that can still change.

We are the largest Bio Science Park in the Netherlands and that must remain so. I believe it is a good idea that a new cluster Vitality with many cross-overs to bio science is being worked out by Economie071. We need to take a long, deep breath for this because something like this needs vision and time.”

Business climate

“International companies looking for new locations pay particular attention to the tax climate and the proximity to Schiphol. Whether there are international schools in the area helps in their decision.

Furthermore the presence of qualified personnel is important. When companies are able to find the right employees it helps greatly in keeping them here. Therefore we must continue to work towards this. We believe that it is good that Economie071 is now working on a joint regional Expat Centre, amongst other initiatives.

The larger companies particularly need employees in the field of Research & Development and quality healthcare, from those studying at MBO level to those being educated at university. That is why within Economie071 we are working together with the ROC, the Hogeschool (college) and University. Another Economie071 initiative that can support this nicely is HUBspot, the new centre for innovation and entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly important skill for employees.”

Centre of excellence

“This region would be even more attractive to international companies working in Life Sciences if we had a top university in this field of expertise. The best American universities host Nobel Prize Winner lectures. That is a great inspiration. A top university attracts the best students and provides the most powerful spinoffs. Doing this also attracts good companies.

Next to Amsterdam, Leiden does have a chance of being such a centre of excellence; the remaining university cities do not. Clear national choices are needed for this, as well as major investments. The Netherlands already spends too little on the knowledge economy, a huge missed opportunity.

If you want to present yourself as a knowledge city, it calls for courage to invest and make choices. Only when a university focusses completely on Life Sciences, can you develop sufficient mass to make a difference to the world.”

Rembrandt and Pilgrim Fathers

“Good marketing activities also give this region a great presence. I am convinced that the entire region will benefit from the Rembrandt year 2019. I think the arrival of the Dinosaurus Rex at Naturalis is also wonderful. I have high expectations of the Be Good and Tell It project, which shapes the region’s marketing.

I also have high expectations of the theme year about the Pilgrim Fathers in 2020. Research is in the DNA of the Pilgrim Fathers, for this very reason they came to Leiden in the 17th century as protestant refugees. This means that we have been busy developing our knowledge for the last 400 years. When you can promote this continuity in your story, you can really show the value of knowledge.”

Article by Economie071


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