Chemicals Industries

The Netherlands: Chemical portal to Europe


The chemicals industry is one of the leading business sectors in the Netherlands, making a significant contribution to the economy. The Netherlands is one of Europe’s leading suppliers of chemical products and services. Important raw materials are available or easy to supply while an extensive transportation network provides access to Europe and beyond. Some of the leading chemical companies in the Netherlands are AkzoNobel, Shell, DSM, Purac, MSD, and ECN. Research institutions include TNO, Delft University, Twente University, Wageningen University and Eindhoven University.

Main aspects and strengths

  • The competitiveness of the Dutch chemical industry lies in its integrated nature. Chemical companies purchase from – and supply to – one another. They also work together in public-private partnerships on innovation and production and regional clustering.
  • The Dutch chemical sector is divided into clusters that combine expertise in specific areas. For example, there is an industrial biotech chemical cluster in the south-west of the Netherlands and a cluster of companies in the area of high performance materials in the south-east of the country. The industrial biotech chemical companies are clustered in the north-east of the Netherlands.
  • Within the strong chemical community, companies, knowledge institutions and the government work together on technology. Through ‘open innovation’, the sector constantly works on developing new innovations. It does this through so-called Centres for Open Chemical Innovation (COCI), in which established companies – as well as start-ups and small businesses – develop innovative ideas and test their feasibility. These companies use each other’s infrastructure, services and expertise.
  • The Dutch chemical industry is strongly focused on becoming more sustainable.
  • About three quarters of the chemical products produced in the Netherlands are exported. Of that amount, three quarters goes to countries within the European Union and one quarter goes to non-EU countries.
  • The Dutch chemical industry is an innovative sector, with roughly two-thirds of companies delivering product and process innovations.

From: NL EVD International information