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Discover Amsterdam
Meetings and Conventions
Live, Work and Study
hub for tech and AI collaboration in Amsterdam Science Park
Image from Jannes Linders fotograaf

Innovation districts in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is an established innovation hub led by a network of local and international businesses, research institutions, top tier universities and supported by municipal and regional governments. Throughout the region emerging innovation districts are helping to create a more liveable, healthy, and sustainable society.

Collaboration towards a better future

Ranked #1 most innovative small city in 2023, the Amsterdam Area thrives on creativity and collaboration making it the perfect place for companies to contribute to world-leading research and develop human-centric solutions. With a strong focus on ethical technology, Amsterdam is leading the way in smart city solutions, advancements in life science and health, as well as climate action. Get to know some of the region’s leading innovation districts below.

living lab for water recycling located at Marineterrein
Image from CINDERELA / AMS Institute

Enabling smarter city solutions with living labs

Supported by the presence of prestigious universities including Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam, and the Hogeschool van Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, the city itself is a living lab for urban innovation. Dedicated hubs drive citizen engagement and bring together public and private stakeholders to research, implement, and test metropolitan solutions:

AMS Institute 

The AMS Institute focuses on driving applied city solutions through urban experimentation, partnerships, and data analysis. It collaborates closely with public and private partners, as well as citizens, to translate data-driven ideas into practical applications.

This cluster of collaborators includes the Marineterrein Amsterdam, which serves as a test ground for developing a more livable city. This former navy base is now a space for experimentation to address the growing number of challenges urban areas face. These include projects that aim to test sustainable solutions like a hanging wall of plants that filter waste water to make it reusable for things like flushing the toilet and watering your garden.

Pakhuis de Zwijger 

In 2006, this former refrigerated warehouse opened its doors as a platform for social innovation and creation. Pakhuis de Zwijger collaborates with numerous partners to produce around 600 programs annually, centred around creating a more sustainable, fair, and future-proof society. They host community events and workshops where citizens can connect with expertise and initiatives that help create a positive impact in society. 

Waag FutureLab

Waag Futurelab is an interdisciplinary research hub focused on the use of design and technology to solve social challenges. The institute is located in the historic Waag building and includes 12 public research labs that empower as many people as possible to get involved in shaping a better future. The research explores ways to make a lasting positive impact on society by merging art and technology with critical thinking. The labs include projects like the Hollandse Luchten (Dutch Skies), which gets citizens involved in measuring the air quality around the North Holland province.

Image from Courtesy of Sanquin

Collaborative hubs advancing life sciences and health

Amsterdam fosters a community of innovation by bringing together scientific talent, academic institutions, companies, and startups to foster knowledge-sharing and growth in the field of healthcare. With Europe’s latest concentration of scientific talent, the focus is on future-forward solutions that incorporate AI, data science, high-tech systems, materials, and sustainability. Supported by the presence of the European Medicines Agency, the area is a hotbed of high-quality research and practical application.

Dedicated hubs include:

Amsterdam Science Park

Home to some 176 companies – from start-ups to multinationals – Amsterdam Science Park is a thriving hub for research, education and entrepreneurship in the fields of digital innovation & AI, sustainability, life sciences & health and high tech systems & materials.

Amsterdam UMC 

Merged with the Vrije University Medical Center in 2018, Amsterdam UMC is a leading medical centre that serves as a collaborative research, education, and test ground for the latest innovations in patient care, such as using AI to assist in discharge of ICU patients.

Amsterdam Life Sciences District

Situated in the southeast of the city, Amsterdam Life Sciences District is an innovative ecosystem of entrepreneurs, companies, and scientific researchers all focused on using technology to solve healthcare’s greatest challenges. Home to innovative companies like Wacker Biotech and Amsterdam Skills Centre, the district cultivates advancements in med-tech, e-health, and gene therapy.

Amsterdam Health & Technology Institute (ahti) is at the heart of the district and aims to enhance urban healthcare by connecting the dots between individuals, technology, and medical expertise through innovation and entrepreneurship. With a broad network of healthcare and business experts, ahti supports healthtech solutions that improve care quality, patient satisfaction, and cost-effectiveness locally and around the world.

Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI)

This internationally acclaimed cancer centre has been at the forefront of oncology research and treatment in the Netherlands for more than 100 years. With a long history of innovation, they continue to explore new ways to treat the disease, such as using AI to improve cancer treatment.

Innovation District Zuidas

Otherwise known as the Kenniskwartier, Innovation District Zuidas houses numerous life science and healthcare organisations, with a strong focus on innovation driven by advancements in medical knowledge driven by the VU University Medical Center within Amsterdam UMC. This district offers aspiring entrepreneurs an ideal environment to transform their research ideas into thriving businesses, with access to extensive expertise and state of the art facilities.

New West Health Innovation District

The New West Health & Innovation District (Hid) encompasses medical research and patient solutions within the Medical Centre Slotervaart. Strengthened by the presence of Sanquin (the Dutch national blood bank) this district is known for pioneering research focused on diagnostics and pharmaceuticals. In this collaborative community, established institutions mingle with emerging startups to exchange knowledge and develop new solutions for the betterment of patients worldwide.

touring the Port of Amsterdam, circular
Image from Giampiero Maietti

Tackling the transition to sustainable practices

The City of Amsterdam has set ambitious energy targets, aiming to become emission-free by 2030, eliminate natural gas by 2040, and achieve complete climate neutrality by 2050. In order to meet these ambitions, there is a need for innovative solutions that can revolutionise current practices. The city actively invests in energy transition by establishing dedicated hubs, which bring together businesses, researchers, and policymakers, fostering a collaborative environment to develop and implement sustainable energy solutions.

Port of Amsterdam

As Europe’s 4th largest port, the Port of Amsterdam is leading the transition to a circular economy with an emphasis on clean energy production and scaling innovative solutions.

Matrix ONE in Amsterdam Science Park

Opened in June 2023, Matrix ONE is a multi-function office/lab space designed to help students, researchers, and companies work together towards sustainable solutions. The building facilitates forward-thinking collaboration by providing a space for students, researchers, entrepreneurs and companies that are focused on accelerating the transition to a sustainable society. One example of this is Sustainalab, a co-creation hub that aims to connect research and education with solutions that tackle climate issues. 

SDG House

The SDG House is a hub for sustainability events and entrepreneurship, designed to bring together individuals and organisations committed to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It links local initiatives with national agendas by providing a physical space that fosters collaboration and leverages partnerships for impactful progress towards a more sustainable world. Community members include a range of organisations like the B Corp, De Groene Grachten (The Green Canals), and OnePlanet Crowd which focus on all areas of making an impact, from action to funding.