Life sciences and health industry in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a world leader in life sciences and health. The city thrives on cooperation, driven by the concentration of its many research institutions, universities, established corporations and startups. The sector also has a close relationship with technology. They collaborate and form partnerships in specialised hubs, including Amsterdam Science Park, the Amsterdam Life Sciences District, the Knowledge Quarter VU/Zuidas and the NKI.

  • Benefits from the Netherlands #1 ranking in the Global Connectedness Index 2018

  • Features an innovative research, business and learning hub at Amsterdam Science Park


  • One of the world’s top 5 tech cities with the highest level of broadband penetration

  • Has a talented academic community and two dedicated science faculties

  • Home to a growing community of over 300 life sciences companies

  • Offers a multilingual, highly-skilled workforce

Europe’s densest and most innovative life sciences and health community

When it comes to life sciences and health in Amsterdam, “community” is much more than a buzzword. The local area has internationally-renowned universities, academic hospitals and research institutions, including the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) and the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. The European Medicines Agency relocated to Amsterdam from London in 2019, bringing along 650 staff members – a move inspired by the presence of robust, accessible businesses and academic communities that are a constant source of innovation, inspiration and feedback. 

The life sciences and health industry thrives on cooperation and the proximity of businesses and academic institutions, which creates a unique synergy few other locations can offer. Multinationals, startups and researchers have focused on everything from how doctors treat depression to smart wheelchairs. They collaborate and form partnerships in specialised hubs, of which the key ones are Amsterdam Science Park, the Amsterdam Life Sciences District, the Knowledge Quarter VU/Zuidas and the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI)

Merging medicine and technology

In Amsterdam, life sciences and health have a close relationship with technology. Data science is a hot topic in the Dutch capital, which is home to over 600 researchers focused on this cutting-edge field. Cooperating closely with each other, they explore how machine learning can improve healthcare by using computers to analyse vast amounts of data and determine the optimal course of treatment for patients. For instance, a doctor might have limited experience treating a rare condition, but a computer can study outcomes across hundreds or thousands of cases, helping determine the best way to care for someone.

Many of the industry’s leading businesses also focus on fields such as artificial intelligence, paving the way for a future where robots perform complicated procedures and other important tasks. The city even has a think tank that focuses on improving the life expectancy of its residents through AI.  

A truly connected city

The Dutch capital is connected on many levels. The Netherlands tops the fifth edition of DHL’s Global Connectedness Index. The city serves as a gateway to other European metropolitan areas such as Brussels and Paris. And with its extensive public transport network, travelling within Amsterdam is affordable and convenient.

The city is also prepared to cope with the challenges of logistics in the life sciences and health industry. For instance, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has a specialised pharma zone and the Port of Amsterdam has biomass transhipment facilities, so professionals can rest assured they’re in safe hands. 

Considering the prominence of the local tech and startup scenes, it’s little surprise that Amsterdam is digitally connected, too. With the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area is home to the best possible digital foundation. The Netherlands has three million fibre optic connections, allowing local businesses and other organisations to enjoy lightning-fast internet speeds. Data centres are established around the country, with the largest data centre in the Netherlands, AM4, located at Amsterdam Science Park. Interestingly, many Dutch data centres recycle the heat they generate, which may then be used to grow vegetables in greenhouses

Strengthening the life sciences and health hub in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area

With its already favourable business climate as a starting point, and with the move of the EMA as a main catalyst, the City of Amsterdam is further strengthening the life sciences and health sector in the Dutch capital. Having identified the city’s strengths in data science and artificial intelligence, the Amsterdam Area is actively striving to establish itself as a global life sciences and health hub and to continue to build on a healthy business ecosystem in this specific sector. To help to coordinate and document these efforts, the Smart Health Amsterdam website was launched. Smart Health Amsterdam is a community for all organisations that work on preventing diseases and encouraging healthy lifestyles. Its platform also allows organisations and individuals to share what they are working on, gain exposure and learn more about the industry.

The future of life sciences and health is looking bright in Amsterdam. Backed by a skilled workforce, reliable connections of every kind and a robust team spirit, the city is set to be the birthplace of game-changing innovations, making it one to watch in the years ahead.

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