27 July 2023 | 3 min.

Location preferences of companies on Dutch science parks

Science parks play a crucial role in stimulating networks, innovation, and economic achievements by companies in the Netherlands. In the past decade, the number of new businesses and employees coming to science parks was significantly greater than average in the country. Such factors as the presence of a university, a sectoral focus, and the quality of the ecosystem have a positive effect on attracting and retaining businesses at Dutch science parks. These are the findings from research carried out by a.s.r. real estate into the chances of survival of companies at Dutch science parks.  

A university at a science park provides a stable environment

In the past ten years, science parks with knowledge providers, such as a university or university hospital, have been better able to retain new and mature companies alike. At science parks with commercial knowledge providers, meanwhile, the likelihood of survival of new businesses in particular was noticeably lower. University science parks offer a stable environment, which leads to better innovations, higher levels of sales, and more opportunities for cost savings. By contrast, science parks whose knowledge provider is a large commercial company are more likely to be the scene of takeovers by third parties, which is an indicator of commercial success.

The survey has also shown that there are clear differences within groups of similar characteristics. At the TU Delft Campus, for example, there have been almost 10% fewer bankruptcies than at comparable university science parks elsewhere in the Randstad conurbation.

Focus on specific sector creates competitive advantage

The survey also demonstrates the importance of a sectoral focus for science parks. Science parks that focus on specific sectors, such as agri-food and life sciences, have a competitive advantage and attract companies active in these sectors more easily. The expertise and facilities on offer in these specialist parks play a key role in the retention of tenants. Within the group of universities with a sectoral focus outside the Randstad conurbation, the survey suggests that there have been 24% fewer bankruptcies on the Wageningen Campus in the past decade, compared to science parks with similar location features. Moreover, larger science parks offer more opportunities for sharing facilities and they stimulate collaboration between businesses.

Ecosystem for knowledge sharing, innovation, and collaboration

The survey also emphasises that a favourable ecosystem at science parks, with the proximity of universities, research institutes, and other companies, is of crucial importance when it comes to promoting knowledge sharing, innovation, and collaboration. An ecosystem provides for the totality of formal and informal interactions on site and in the region, between partners, competitors, customers, and suppliers. When selecting locations for science parks, account should be taken of the possibility of creating a strong research and development ecosystem. Attention should also be paid to sectoral focus (on life sciences or high-tech, for example) and to ensuring there is sufficient space for users to be able to specialise and to grow.

The ASR Dutch Science Park Fund regards these findings as confirmation of the importance of science parks for economic growth and innovation. The fund will continue to invest in science parks in the Netherlands, focusing on locations with strong knowledge providers and growth potential.