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This article was published on December 9, 2022

The Netherlands is the ideal breeding ground for green tech startups

Developing environmental technologies is an integral part of Dutch culture


The Netherlands is the ideal breeding ground for green tech startups
Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
Story by

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives. Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives.

The Netherlands is one of the best places in the world for startups and businesses working on green tech.

Managing the climate is deeply rooted in Dutch culture. With nearly a third of its land below sea level, the country has been highly-adaptive to environmental challenges — finding ways to turn them into opportunities for technological growth.

Think, for instance, of how the Dutch have managed to reclaim land from sea with polders, or avoid flooding from the North Sea with the construction of the Delta Works, a series of dams and surge barriers along the southern West coast.

The Netherlands’ environmental credentials extend far beyond managing water systems though. One element that’s often overlooked is the country’s huge agricultural industry.

Despite being the 131st biggest country in the world, it’s the 4th largest exporter of vegetables. Much of this is down to its investment and pioneering research in modern greenhouse farming, which combines hydroponic technology and geothermal energy.

There’s more though, the country plans to make 16% of all energy used sustainable by 2023 — and it’s already home to one of the largest offshore wind farms and floating solar energy parks in Europe.

Netherlands green tech
The Oyster dam, part of the Delta Works. Credit: Rijkswaterstaat

The majority of these examples arise from large amounts of funding and governmental intervention, but this environmental innovation is reflected in the startup scene as well.

According to the Startup Employment Report 2022, impact startups — companies that have sustainable development goals (SDGs) at the core of their business — are currently generating over 13,900 jobs in the Netherlands.

Specifically, 40% of these jobs have been created by companies active in the energy sector, which has seen an annual job growth of 22% between 2021 and 2022.

Notable employers in the field are active in electric mobility, including solar carmaker Lightyear, ebike manufacturer VanMoof, and EV charging station provider EVBox.

The report also found that the investors’ interest in climate action as an SDG has received the highest funding since 2016, totaling €2.6 billion. And beyond private funding, companies developing sustainable technologies can benefit from governmental support as well through collaborations or subsidies.

All this comes together to make the Netherlands a leading location for the creation of environmentally-focused technologies. Not only is this supported by the government and embedded in the country’s culture, there is a pre-existing workforce that’s highly skilled in dealing with this sorts of problems.

It’s no coincidence that the Dutch are huge exporters of climate resilience knowledge, after all.

Ultimately, the Netherlands has both a pedigree in environmental technologies, but also the potential to be the world leader in innovative green technologies. Startups working in this sector would be hard-pressed to find a better place to operate from.

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