Amsterdam attracts international business

A total of 157 new foreign companies set up shop in the Amsterdam Area in 2016. In three years’ time, these companies will jointly provide 3,312 jobs. The expansion of businesses established prior to 2016 created another 4,285 new jobs in 2016. International companies also contribute indirectly to employment: it is estimated that for the 7,597 jobs created by direct investment, several thousands of indirect jobs were generated. 

Kajsa Ollongren, alderperson for Economic Affairs, says: “As these figures show, Amsterdam is a magnet for international businesses, talent and startups. [The idea] that our city and the surrounding region are attractive to companies is great news for talent, as these firms contribute greatly to job creation. This is why it’s important to maintain Amsterdam’s favourable international position. 2016 has been a turbulent year for many reasons – one of them being the Brexit. However, amidst all those changes, Amsterdam remains a top destination for foreign investment.”

Strong international position

Amsterdam enjoys a strong competitive position as a location for foreign companies and startups. This is also clear from the international rankings for 2016. In IBM’s Global Location Trends report 2016, Amsterdam takes third place in terms of attracting foreign investment; it comes fourth in the European Attractiveness Survey by EY and fifth in the Cities of Opportunity ranking (PwC) for most competitive cities.

European headquarters and marketing & sales offices

Factors for Amsterdam’s attraction for international businesses include its strategic location in Europe, its good physical and digital connectivity and its appeal to international talent. This makes the region attractive as a site for European headquarters of multinational corporations. In 2016, 44 businesses established their European head office in the region. Another emerging trend is consolidation, with specific departments being relocated from other parts of Europe to Amsterdam. Marketing and sales offices continue to have a strong presence in the region – a majority of new businesses (79) have marketing and sales amongst their activities.

Growth from Europe

Companies from the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East and North Africa) were the biggest investors in 2016, with 41% of the new offices originating from there, representing 41% of the number of new jobs. The United States remains a major investor with 46 new companies and 1194 jobs. In terms of expansion, North America takes the lead with 24 of the 37 expanding companies. Many of the companies to have scaled up are startups. Amsterdam offers a favourable business climate for startups, most of which come from the United States. Investments from Asia remained stable in 2016, representing 22% of new companies. Most of the new international companies are active in ICT, financial services and the creative industry.

The impact of Brexit

Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has not had a significant impact on the numbers in 2016. For many companies, relocating activities is a complicated and lengthy process. However, dozens of companies have indicated that they are preparing for Britain’s departure from the EU and are considering the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area as a new location. Most of these businesses are active in the financial sector, ICT or the creative industry and generally originate from the United States, Japan or the UK.

2016 numbers do show an increase in the number of British companies that have settled in and around Amsterdam (19). These companies frequently have an office in both London and Amsterdam; examples include FinTech companies Seedrs and Decoded, which offer workshops on coding.