Sector important for innovation and tackling megatrends

Hightech industry of great value to the Dutch economy

Hightechindustrie van grote waarde voor Nederlandse economie
  • Publication
  • 25 Jan 2024

The Dutch high-tech manufacturing industry is of great economic and societal value that far exceeds its direct value in terms of jobs and added value. The sector has a positive impact on education and innovation in the Netherlands and serves as an engine for growth and finding solutions to reduce CO2 emissions. "The high-tech industry clearly contributes to finding answers to megatrends such as climate change, resource scarcity, and demographic changes," says PwC economist Jan Willem Velthuijsen.

These are some important conclusions in the PwC report 'Made in NL - The value of the Dutch high-tech manufacturing industry'. For the report, we spoke with executives from companies in the sector and government representatives. Furthermore, we analysed the value of the Dutch high-tech manufacturing industry from four perspectives: the external value of this industry, the key economic indicators, its role within global value chains, and its economic relationships within the Netherlands.

The value of the high-tech manufacturing industry is greater than its contribution to GDP alone

In the end, a positive picture emerged, according to Velthuijsen. 'If you look at it purely from an economic perspective, you might think that the value of the high-tech manufacturing industry is modest. After all, it only accounts for six percent of the gross domestic product and less than four percent of the total number of jobs in the Netherlands. But that is a distorted view. The industry organizes itself in ecosystems where research, the private sector, and the government collaborate closely. In this way, it greatly promotes innovation. The high-tech manufacturing industry is responsible for a large portion of Dutch patents and expenditures in research and development.'

Innovations in the high-tech manufacturing industry contribute to solving global challenges

These innovations are crucial for addressing challenges such as climate change, food security, and an aging population, through which the Dutch industry makes a significant contribution to global issues. Furthermore, the high-tech manufacturing industry increases the resilience of a country or region by reducing dependence on foreign production resources.

The high-tech manufacturing industry is a 'productivity champion'

The Dutch high-tech manufacturing industry is a productivity champion. Compared to other industries and similar sectors in other countries, it has a higher value added per employee. In this century, it has even doubled from over 100,000 euros in 2000 to over 187,000 euros in 2022. These figures are higher than in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the United States. 

High-tech manufacturing industry also has negative impact

However, the high-tech manufacturing industry also has negative effects. The emission of greenhouse gases is still high. In addition, the concentration of industrial clusters exacerbates labour market shortages and competition for infrastructure and space in the Netherlands. Companies in the sector will need to collaborate more with municipalities and the surrounding community to achieve a good balance.

The Netherlands is doing itself a great service by nurturing an adequate entrepreneurial climate

In the past, the government and the business community have always worked well together, which has led to great successes, says Velthuijsen. However, he sees that the love between the two parties has cooled in recent years. 'Companies complain about the policy machinery. And while some leading companies have already left the Netherlands, several others openly question whether they should do the same. On the other hand, the government is faced with dilemmas that involve choices that affect the business climate. The wider trust of the public in the business community is declining because it has been confronted with misconduct or at least suspects that companies are careless with public interests. Politically, it does not pay off to stand up for the interests of businesses.' 

Velthuijsen: 'Companies would do well to be more transparent about their success stories and challenges, otherwise I fear that the love, especially from the political side, will cool even more and turn into indifference or even hostility. Our report makes it clear that this sector is important for Dutch society. It would be detrimental if the high-tech manufacturing industry gradually disappears from the Netherlands because less and less energy is being put into our entrepreneurial climate. It is a dangerous misconception that an economy can only rely on services.'

Made in NL

The value of the Dutch high-tech manufacturing industry

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Contact us

Jan Willem Velthuijsen

Jan Willem Velthuijsen

Chief Economist, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 248 32 93

Jeroen van Kessel

Jeroen van Kessel

Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 241 65 81

Mathieu Rosier

Mathieu Rosier

Partner Industrial Manufacturing & Automotive, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 233 25 30

Robert du Burck

Robert du Burck

Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)65 536 31 21

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