The Rise of Startups and Scale-Ups in the Rotterdam – The Hague Metropolitan Area

The recently published monitor report offers a comprehensive analysis of the entrepreneurial landscape within our region, including a meticulous breakdown of the number of active startups and scale-ups, their respective areas of operation, and their distribution throughout the Rotterdam – The Hague Metropolitan Area.

rotterdam skyline
The Erasmus Bridge and the skyline of Rotterdam by Robin Utrecht

The report provides valuable insight into the impact of these ventures on employment, shedding light on their role as drivers of economic growth, and well as shares guidelines for further strengthening the ecosystem.

The Rotterdam – The Hague metropolitan area has emerged as a thriving hub for startups and scale-ups, solidifying its position as the second-largest startup city in the Netherlands.

With a burgeoning community of over 49,000 full-time employees, the region has witnessed a remarkable surge in startup investments, tripling the figure from 2016-2019 to 2019-2021. The collective valuation of startups and scale-ups in the metropolitan region stands at a staggering 50 billion euros, signifying the robustness of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Despite the countrywide decline in the number of scale-ups, vacancies at startups and scale-ups in the region remain consistently high. However, there is a scarcity of growth opportunities and a lack of access to capital, particularly in the later stages of development.

Skyline of The Hague by This is The Hague

The distribution of startups and scale-ups

The Rotterdam The Hague metropolitan region is home to 679 startups and 335 scale-ups, with their concentrations in the cities of Delft, The Hague, and Rotterdam. Scale-ups have a stronger presence in Rotterdam and The Hague, with smaller peaks in Delft, Westland, and Lansingerland.


The startup landscape is dominated by companies in the IT, Health, Fintech, Energy, and Mobility sectors, while scale-ups are largely involved in trade, services, IT, and healthcare.

Investments by Technology Domain

Analysis of investment distribution based on technology domains shows that semiconductor technology is the most heavily funded vertical. Compared to previous monitoring, Robotics, Health, and Food sectors are attracting a greater amount of investment per startup.

Talent and Employment

The region is experiencing a rise in the number of foreign students and an increase in the share of scale-ups in total employment in the metropolitan area. The initial phase of a company requires individuals with at least a higher vocational education level. Vacancies for individuals with MBO qualifications are also increasing from the age of six.

Public-Private Networks

The networks of startups and scale-ups in the Rotterdam The Hague metropolitan area are a blend of public and private actors. These organizations are usually larger in size and frequently involve local knowledge institutions.

Role of Knowledge Institutions

Local knowledge institutions play a crucial role in fostering entrepreneurship in the region. Institutions such as TU Delft, Erasmus University, Leiden University, and local universities of applied sciences are crucial sources of founders for startups. Furthermore, employees of these organizations play an active role in the development of the startup and scale-up ecosystem.

Follow-up: strengthening cooperation

In recent years, several municipalities in the Rotterdam – The Hague metropolitan region have placed significant emphasis on the growth of startups and scale-ups.

Building on the insights of this study, there is now a concerted effort to enhance collaboration within the region.

This initiative involves the municipalities of Delft, The Hague, Rotterdam, BAR-municipalities, Zoetermeer, Lansingerland, Rijswijk, Schiedam, and Westland, as well as the province of South Holland and InnovationQuarter.

The research was overseen by these parties and conducted by Birch Consultants and Erik Stam from Utrecht University.

This coordinated approach reflects a shared commitment to strengthening the startup and scale-up ecosystem in the region.