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NR 7 2017-2018

AMS NR 7 2017-2018

Amsterdam in business

The talent issue Embracing growth in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area A hub for social enterpreneurs


AMS NR 7 – The talent issue

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Introduction – Kajsa Ollongren, Vice Mayor of Amsterdam New in Amsterdam – inspiring new businesses, initiatives and organisations

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The engineers of finance – leading the way as a FinTech hub Staying for the long-term – TCS is still growing strong after 25 years in Amsterdam How internationals live in Amsterdam: Alistair Beattie and Mia Wellfare Banking on Amsterdam – China Construction Bank’s smooth integration City of science – a small metropole that’s big on science and academia

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Going my way? – Amsterdam’s success in modern-day logistics The Netherlands and Japan – a match made in heaven How internationals live in Amsterdam: Weronika Siwiec


Amsterdam’s home advantage – the city’s talented international workforce

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Part I: The smart city

Part II: The connected city

Cover feature: Talent

Part III: Planning the future

Finding Almere – the city’s appeal to global companies Room to grow – embracing growth and avoiding sprawl Column – how the Dutch work How internationals live in Amsterdam: Tapabrata Roy & Satarupa Bose Roy A circular hotspot – how Amsterdam has taken up the circularity challenge Events in Amsterdam – from cultural must-dos to essential conferences

Part IV: The social economy

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The Do-Good Factor – how Amsterdam’s social enterprises are helping Off Grid Electric – Driving Africa’s solar revolution from their Amsterdam seat

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Amsterdam in numbers – the facts and figures of working in Amsterdam Partners – the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area business’s closest allies


Fact and figures

Editorial Board Frans van der Avert, Hilde van der Meer Editor-in-Chief Bart van Oosterhout Project manager Chiu Hsiao Marketing Strategy Manager Mariken van den Boogaard Basic Design Sabine Verschueren Designer Het Zomerpaleis: Saskia Franken Cover Photography Jesse Kraal/Phenster Editors Ann Doherty, Julia Gorodecky Image editor Phenster: Philip Jintes, Lindsay Jenner Writers Paul Anstiss, Lauren Comiteau, Colleen Geske, Douglas Heingartner, Catalina Iorga, Hans Kops, Marie-Charlotte Pezé. Through Edenfrost: Rhys Elliott, Sarah Gehrke, Alison McGarry, Jayne Robinson Photography Jasper Abels, Erwin Beenhakker, Paul Deelman, Jasper Derksen, Wouter le Duc, Flying Holland, Mark Horn, Jordi Huisman, Jeroen de Lange, Jesse Kraal, Martins Mazonis, Katrien Mulder, Maarten Noordijk, Ivar Pel, Marijn Scherres, Ed Seeder, Sander van Torren, Harold Versteegh, Gerard-Jan Vlekke, Geek Zwetsloot Illustrations: SaltyStock: Odilo Girod


‘Refuelling a talent magnet’ The future of a metropole – or any city, for that matter – is decided by its ability to attract, select and challenge talent. Cities strive for a constant flow of innovative ideas and concepts, start-ups and scientific breakthroughs. And this all starts with the valuable presence of talented individuals who dare to cross borders and challenge existing frameworks in thought and action. As Vice Mayor of Amsterdam, I consider myself lucky in this respect. Historically, Amsterdam and its neighbouring cities have always been a magnet for talent. Moreover, our progress and prosperity have been - and continue to be - fuelled by people thinking out of the box and going beyond the limitations of nationalities, time and culture. Today, as we enter a fully digital era, we anticipate huge changes in the global market and workplaces. We must remain alert, and constantly update and expand our appeal and offerings to natural talent. We must also stay on the radar of the increasing number of millennials who roam the world and settle down where they find the best education, work and life opportunities. And we do. According to the 2017 Millennial City Ranking by Nestpick, Amsterdam is the best city in the world for young aspiring international talents. We score high marks for LGBTI-friendliness, our start-up ecosystem, transport, gender equality and digital connectivity. But we can do better and we will. Therefore, cities, universities and colleges, corporations, non-profits and healthcare organisations have united around the Open Amsterdam strategy in order to further improve our talent appeal. First, by upscaling our already internationally-oriented and high-performing education system by opening more international schools (both at the primary and secondary levels) and offering more transitional courses, starting this year. Next, by making our study, living and working conditions more transparent to internationals and by removing all obstacles that inhibit entrepreneurs from starting something new and that hinder start-ups from becoming scale-ups. Last, by offering you an environment in which you feel more welcome, challenged, connected, safe, healthy and balanced than ever before. In order to make it easier for you to settle in, we are creating platforms where you can meet and connect. Naturally, this all takes time. But our commitment to making these changes gives a strong signal that Amsterdam is eager to add value to our culture, economy and society by welcoming new talent.

I hope to welcome you soon in person.

Kajsa Ollongren Vice Mayor of Amsterdam


Read AMS online and see video testimonials at

To communicate and visualise this message more clearly, we have made Amsterdam’s allure as a talent hub the main theme of this year’s AMS magazine.


On the cover Outside the office of Spaces, Herengracht. Read more on page 42. Photo: Jesse Kraal/Phenster; Location: Spaces Herengracht, Amsterdam


text Douglas Heingartner Inspiring new businesses, initiatives and organisations.

Trendzer opens office in Almere Having a professional website is important for small businesses, but not all of them have the time, budget or technical know-how to build a good site. And that’s where Trendzer steps in as it helps small and medium-sized businesses set up their online presence. Originally founded in Edinburgh, it is the latest of many innovative companies to choose to settle in Almere. The new location will initially create 60 jobs in the region. A contract with KPN will allow KPN, one of The Netherlands’s largest telecom providers, to offer Trendzer’s unique digital services to their Dutch business customers.

Crowdfunder Seedrs branches out Seedrs, a crowdfunding platform that lets investors fund businesses that they believe in, is expanding out of the UK and into the Benelux region, with the company’s first commercial team on the ground opening up a new office in Amsterdam. The Seedrs platform allows ambitious companies to raise capital and build a community, all through an efficient online process. Furthermore, Seedrs also handles all the documentation, admin and payment processes for both investors and businesses. The companies on the Seedrs platform range from idea-stage start-ups to publicly-traded companies, and the platform has already funded more than 370 deals, with over €160 million having been invested overall.



Tech educator Decoded arrives in the Dutch capital When Decoded launched in London in 2011, it was founded on the simple idea that anyone could learn to code, and could do so in a single day. Six years later, Decoded is still simplifying complex topics such as cybersecurity and innovation, and empowering individuals and businesses through creative learning experiences. Having already expanded to New York and Sydney, Decoded recently set up shop in Amsterdam as well. Its new office is based in the city’s popular Spring House building, a space for ‘radical innovators’ that is located along the IJ waterfront near Central Station.

Wemanity making Amsterdam more agile

Deepening ties with Canada Amsterdam’s cultural and commercial links to Canada date back centuries, and now even more efforts are being made to attract Canadian companies to the Amsterdam region. For example, amsterdam inbusiness, the official foreign investment agency of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, recently opened a Canada Desk, which focuses on inbound investment from Canada into the Amsterdam Metropoliton Area. Likewise, the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency recently opened an office in Toronto, and the new CETA trade agreement between the EU and Canada will make it easier to export goods and services, which will benefit both businesses and people. expands near Central Station Amsterdam-based is the global leader in online bookings, now employing more than 13,000 people in 187 offices worldwide. To accommodate this growth, the company is expanding its already considerable presence in Amsterdam by leasing a large new office space in Piet Hein Buildings. Located next to the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam, this new office complex is within walking distance of Amsterdam Central Station and offers a majestic view of the IJ river. A geothermal energy storage system provides the buildings with sustainable heating and cooling, and its underground car park includes charging points for electric vehicles.




Founded in 2013, Wemanity is a company that focuses on making businesses more agile. ‘Agile’ in this sense refers to a constantly-evolving style of project management and software development, which geared toward continuous improvement and rapid response to change. After expanding from Paris into Brussels and London, the company recently opened an Amsterdam branch. The city’s excellent transport connections and its proximity to many businesses’s Dutch and European headquarters played a major role in this decision. The Wemanity team’s coaches, mentors and technical experts have already helped companies such as JCDecaux, Total and BNP to become more agile.


Greener data centres Thanks to its excellent connectivity, Amsterdam is one of the most important data centre hubs in Europe, and the local data centre industry is an increasingly important driver of the digital economy in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important theme in these massive data centres, which is why the Green Datacentre Campus is being built at Schiphol Trade Park. Expected to open in 2018, the campus will feature green roofs, openair cooling and solar panels, and will also make maximum use of the residual heat generated by all those machines.

Spryng launches online payment system Spryng, an Amsterdam-based business provider of SMS services with more than 25,000 customers worldwide, has launched a new activity: Spryng Payments. This new service – which works for businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to multinationals – enables businesses to process online payments at very competitive rates, with no setup or subscription fees. It largely automates aspects like chargebacks and fraud prevention, and works across platforms such as Paypal, iDEAL and major credit cards. In the fast-growing e-commerce market, Spryng customers will not have to negotiate with banks and financial services, as Spryng will already have done so.



Rivierstaete redeveloped as creative hub When it opened in 1973, the Rivierstaete complex on the river Amstel was the largest office building in Europe. This landmark site is now undergoing a major transformation, and will be re-launched in 2018 as the Amsterdam home of WPP, the world’s largest advertising and marketing services group. The various WPP agencies that are now scattered throughout the city will move into the redeveloped Rivierstaete building, which will bring together about 1,500 employees from several dozen WPP companies. The building will be stripped back to its shell and fully refurbished, with a transparent design featuring outdoor terraces and glass façades.

photo: vastint

photo: Xxxxxxxxxx

Former retail palace to house Besteller brands and new start-ups The former V&D building on Amsterdam’s Rokin has a new tenant as approximately 5,000m2 of the space will be used by the Danish clothing company, Bestseller. Founded in 1975, Bestseller owns a range of more than 20 fashion brands, including Vero Moda, Jack & Jones and Only, and is currently expanding its online activities. The refurbished building will also house an incubator for start-ups in the retail sector, and will keep about 3,000m2 of space available for retail, possibly to be split into multiple stores.

HCL Technologies opens Amsterdam office

GitHub opens in Spaces The San Francisco-based open-source project GitHub has opened an office in the Spaces shared-office building in Amsterdam. GitHub allows software developers to manage and store various revisions of a project and, although it’s mostly used for code, it can also be used to manage any other type of file. As of April 2017, GitHub had almost 20 million users and 57 million repositories, making it the world’s largest host of source code. Its new office in Amsterdam is also symbolic for the city, as it marks the 3,000th international company to settle in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.

photo: MIR

ASICS builds new EMEA headquarters in Hoofddorp The world-renowned sports and lifestyle brand ASICS is anticipating major growth in the coming years, which is why they have chosen the Amsterdam region as their new base for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The company’s state-of-the-art office building in Hoofddorp, developed by Red Company and designed by Powerhouse Company, is expected to be delivered in the second half of 2018. With floor-to-ceiling glass windows, each floor is flooded with natural light and offers panoramic views over the Haarlemmermeer polder. The building will be constructed according to the latest high standards in health and sustainability, with WELL Gold and LEED Gold certifications.



HCL Technologies – a global IT services company headquartered in Noida, India – has opened a new office in Amsterdam. HCL has been in the Netherlands for more than 15 years, and the new location in Amsterdam will mainly provide IT services to companies in the financial sector, with the Amsterdam team – which will eventually include approximately 200 people – initially focusing on serving the city’s leading international banks. HCL’s choice for Amsterdam was largely inspired by the city’s talented workforce, as well as its proximity to some of HCL’s key clients.


Post-production studio Smoke & Mirrors opens Amsterdam office Smoke & Mirrors, a visual effects and post-production studio, has arrived in Amsterdam, marking the studio’s seventh international location, and its first on mainland Europe. Established in London in 1995, Smoke & Mirrors offers production and post-production services for the advertising, film and music industries, including visual effects, shoot supervision, CGI and more. The new Smoke & Mirrors office is based in a renovated canal house in the heart of Amsterdam, and the team will be joining a creative community that is already home to many of the world’s leading talents, with flourishing scenes in the fields of advertising, gaming, apps, TV production, fashion and design.

Startup recruitment agency launches in Amsterdam February 2016 marked the launch of StudiStartupJob – an agency that matches startups with students. Startups grow and need additional talent, while students want to gain work experience. StudiStartupJob enables students to do relevant, paid, knowledgeintensive work in addition to their studies. The initiative was created by StudiJob, StartupAmsterdam and IXA.

photo: Geek Zwetsloot Fotografie

Schiphol’s e-logistics strengthened by Aramex Since its foundation in 1982, the Dubai-based company Aramex has grown to become a world-leader in comprehensive logistics and transportation solutions recognized for its customized services and innovative products for businesses and consumers. The company’s Dutch location is housed in the Fokker Logistics Park, a stateof-the-art logistics facility adjacent to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. This park’s many green qualities align with Aramex’s focus on environmental sustainability, and its proximity to Schiphol, which consistently ranks among the top airports in Europe, is also crucial as it puts the company in the perfect position to take advantage of what it predicts to be rapid growth in its e-commerce activities.



For all the latest Amsterdam business news, visit |


Stryker opens European HQ Stryker – a medical technology company based in Michigan, USA – is one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, and now it has opened its European headquarters in Amsterdam. This new head office will support the growth of Stryker’s global business, and further enhance the company’s strong presence in Europe by increasing collaboration and generating more efficiency. Stryker’s products include surgical equipment, implants and other medical devices used in a variety of medical specialties.

photo: Jasper Derksen

Amsterdam music scene expands with Abbey Road

The Abbey Road Institute, which trains students in music production and the music business, has opened in Amsterdam. Their new state-of-the-art studio is located in Amsterdam’s Q-Factory, one of Europe’s largest music centres. The new Amsterdam location is Abbey Road’s first on mainland Europe to offer the programme in English, which makes it very attractive to international students. Its founder, the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London, has recorded music by many of the world’s leading artists, most famously The Beatles, as well as Pink Floyd, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Adele.

Royal Van Lent to build superyachts in region As of 2019, Dutch shipbuilder Royal Van Lent will be building luxury superyachts at a new location in the Port of Amsterdam area. Established in 1849, Royal Van Lent is now part of the French luxury group LVMH, and the new facility in Amsterdam’s Westpoort will be a joint venture with superyacht-maker Feadship. Van Lent and Feadship worked closely with the City of Amsterdam and the port authorities in finding the perfect location, and construction of the new site is already underway. The new location will create 150 jobs for highly-skilled yacht builders, giving a considerable boost to the Amsterdam economy. feadship.comx

International schools expanding Amsterdam is becoming increasingly popular as a location for international companies, which means an increased demand for places at international schools. Good news is on the horizon as from August 2017 a new international school will open its doors in Haarlem. Almere and Haarlem’s international schools are expanding and in the coming years a variety of existing public and private international schools will open expansions.

photo: A&E Architecten


AMS en/local/move/dutch-education-system/ international-schools/current-availability


The engineers of finance

Amsterdam has long been a leader in the financial sector, and the city is now taking this centuries-old tradition into the present day by becoming one of the world’s leading hubs for financial technology, aka FinTech.

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text Douglas Heingartner

clockwise from top: Adyen; Bunq offices, Co-founder, President & CEO of Adyen, Pieter van der Does

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photo: Jeroen de Lange

photo: Philip Jintes

photo: Bunq


The city consistently shines in international rankings

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FinTech Central International companies active in the FinTech sector are increasingly taking notice of Amsterdam’s prowess: FinTech titans such as PayPal, Bitpay and Ebury have a considerable presence here, the Chinese bitcoin company Bitmain acquired Amsterdam-based Blocktrail in 2016, and India’s HCL Technologies opened an Amsterdam office in early 2017. ‘We did a thorough assessment of different places, and were very impressed by the kind of start-ups here, especially in FinTech,’ says Sudip Lahiri, HCL’s Vice President and Head Financial Services Europe. ‘That’s why we have to be here, where the action is.’ Holland FinTech Founded by Don Ginsel in 2014, this private Amsterdam-based organisation connects more than 300 member companies from across Europe to its knowledge base and network of more than 10,000 people around the world. ‘The Netherlands’s rich entrepreneurial history and the structures that it’s created can also lead to a certain inertia,’ says Ginsel. ‘But at Holland FinTech, we are showing how access to innovative financial services can overcome that inertia by empowering people and businesses alike.’

Since as far back as the Dutch East India Company’s introduction of tradable stocks in 1602, Amsterdam has been a pioneer in financial innovation. It was also the first European city to open an options market (the European Options Exchange in 1978), and Dutch banks were frontrunners in terms of online and mobile banking, as well as phasing out old payment methods such as cheques. That tradition is still thriving, as Amsterdam is quickly developing into one of the world’s leading hubs for financial technology, more commonly known as FinTech. The city is now home to about 350 companies and 15,000 employees working in the FinTech sector, developing novel solutions for everything from online payments and transfers, to high-speed trading and bitcoin. A STRONG BASE THAT WELCOMES NEW PLAYERS There are many reasons why Amsterdam has become a FinTech capital, the most important perhaps being the city’s already strong financial sector. Major international banks such as ABN AMRO, Rabobank and ING are all based here, as are several large pension funds and insurance companies. In fact, the financial sector is the largest business sector in the Netherlands, employing 230,000 people in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area alone. Perhaps just as important is Amsterdam’s flourishing start-up sector. The city consistently shines in international rankings; it was rated Europe’s second-best start-up city in Nesta’s European Digital City Index 2015, and 46 per cent of the country’s start-up job vacancies are in Amsterdam. Some of these financial start-ups have already hit the big time. The financial world took notice when Amsterdambased Flow Traders raised almost €600 million in its July 2015 IPO. Along with Amsterdam companies like Optiver and IMC, they make the city a driving force in the world of electronic trading. Likewise, when the valuation of Amsterdam’s global payments start-up Adyen grew to US$1.5 billion in late 2014, it became Amsterdam’s first unicorn, firmly putting the city on the FinTech map. TOP TALENT AND SAVVY CUSTOMERS Another crucial factor is Amsterdam’s remarkable talent pool. Global technology employers such as, Uber, Netflix, TomTom and Tesla can easily find highlyskilled workers who are drawn to Amsterdam’s exceptionally high quality of life, and English is a second language here, with 90 per cent of the city’s Dutch locals speaking it. With two large universities based in Amsterdam, there is also a boundless supply of world-class financial, commercial and technical talent here. FinTech companies in particular need staff who understand data, and that need is being met with the recently-opened Amsterdam School of Data Science, a collaboration between several local knowledge institutes that will train thousands of data specialists. With its rapid adoption of new technologies, Amsterdam is also an ideal testing ground for new financial products. The Netherlands already has some of the lowest levels of cash payments in the world, and its mobile-banking penetration rate of 63 per cent is the highest in Europe. It’s convenient banking services such as these, which the

photo: Bunq

STABLE AND RELIABLE The FinTech industry also depends on fast and reliable data connectivity, an area in which Amsterdam excels. The city’s AMSIX Internet exchange is the largest in the world, and 11 of the 15 undersea cables that connect Europe to the Americas converge in the Netherlands. Just as important is a reliable and stable government, and the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and the Dutch central bank DNB have proven enthusiastic when it comes to welcoming innovative financial firms. A smooth and transparent visa system also makes it relatively easy for FinTech companies to bring in international experts (as so-called ‘knowledge migrants’), which speeds up the process and eliminates a lot of red tape. In 2016, the Dutch government appointed the economist and former minister Willem Vermeend as the special envoy to the FinTech sector, and in the same year the AFM and DNB set up the InnovationHub to create room for innovation in the financial sector. The ostensibly staid DNB has even been experimenting with blockchain technologies, and recently outlined a scenario of how its DNBcoin prototype might function in the distant year of 2140. For a central bank to be that keen to entertain the idea of change, it looks like the Amsterdam’s FinTechfriendly environment is in it for the long haul. <

With its rapid adoption of new technologies, Amsterdam is also an ideal testing ground for new financial products

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FinTech companies enable, that are particularly sought-after by young people. Amsterdam’s Bunq, for example, which launched in 2015, is a new kind of bank that has been called the WhatsApp for payments.

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Amit Kapur regional director and Head of Benelux


‘We’re here to stay for the long-term’

Tata Consultancy Services is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Amsterdam this year. What initially started out as a small, pioneering outfit from India has now become one of the Netherlands’ largest IT-service providers.

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text Hans Kops photography Wouter le Duc/Phenster


This year marks a quarter of a century since Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) opened an office in Amsterdam. In those pioneering days, the company’s objective was to test the Dutch market for business outsourcing solutions and IT services, and to see if one could service the European markets from here. Most of their effort and investments were therefore aimed at establishing a local brand name and answering the oftenasked question: Why India? ‘It was a time when Indian IT-companies were still relatively unknown and partnering with them was considered an experiment that should be compensated with lower costs,’ says Amit Kapur, who, as regional director and Head of Benelux, is currently the highest in command in TCS’s European headquarters in Amsterdam. But as TCS’s services portfolio and client list expanded, things changed. By 2005 – the year Kapur and his family arrived in the Netherlands – an Indian heritage was considered an asset in the ICT-business, and potential clients no longer asked themselves if they should select an Indian business partner, but which Indian business partner. ‘It’s safe to say that TCS has positively contributed to this development. We had outgrown most of our local and international competitors by then and built a convincing track record based on the quality of our services, the number and respectability of our customers, the maturity of our engagements, and – naturally – our cost-efficiency. Besides, it was clear that we are here to stay for the long term.’

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‘The Netherlands is an extremely attractive location considering the ease of settlement and its talented workforce’

SHOWCASE Today, the European subsidiary is one of TCS’s launching platforms for what is, according to the strategists of the Mumbai-based multinational, the next evolutionary step in the digital transformation of an increasingly eastbound world. They see no future in continuing to automate existing processes. Organisations have to reinvent and reimagine themselves in a way that appeals to the growing masses of the young digital natives that will be tomorrow’s customers. And TCS is positioned to help their European clients in all aspects of this transition: by upscaling their infrastructure and business intelligence; outsourcing and securing their data; implementing business solutions; introducing new technologies as the Internet of Things and machine learning; and by helping them to rewrite their business cases. ‘It is our objective to aggregate as much value as possible for our clients, by helping them to use the current technologies that can innovate their businesses and organisational

structures,’ says Kapur. ‘I feel confident that TCS Netherlands is poised to play a poignant role in this. We want to present a showcase to the rest of continental Europe.’ HAPPY MARRIAGE What started as a small outfit in a temporary office in 1992, has grown to become one of the largest IT-providers in the Netherlands, a major stepping stone to the rest of the continental European markets and a household name in the business and social networks of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. TCS’s big breakthrough was when they managed to land KLM as a prestigious launching customer. The Dutch banks ABN AMRO and ING Group soon followed, as did ASML, the world’s leading manufacturer of semiconductor machines. These and other clients ranked TCS number one in last year’s independent listing on customer satisfaction by Whitelane. ‘That we were able to expand our client list with those global brand names in such a relatively short period of time is partly due to the openness of the Dutch companies involved. They are very internationally-oriented, have an open mind and choose their partners on their ability to aggregate value for them. Because of their willingness to experiment, we were given the chance to prove ourselves.’ This ever-growing strong foothold also fuels the growth of the TCS organisation in Europe. Together (excluding the UK), Europe contributed to a tenth of TCS’s global revenue last year. ‘Our European activities make an important contribution to our company’s net profit,’ says Kapur. THE BUSINESS CLIMATE’S HELPING HAND Reflecting on TCS’s remarkable business success in its 25 years in Amsterdam, Kapur points out that the fast growth of the company’s European operation is also due to the attractiveness of the local business climate. ‘The Netherlands is an extremely attractive location considering the ease of settlement and its talented workforce, costs of living and vibrant multicultural environment,’ he says. ‘When considering locations in Europe, the outcomes are predictable: the Netherlands comes out on top, closely followed by the Nordic countries.’ TCS’s European business leader can say from both his personal and his family’s experience that the high ranking of the Amsterdam metropole is justified. ‘My family and I have lived here now for more than 11 years and over that time, a part of our cultural and social DNA has been somewhat Dutchified. In a good way, of course. We always feel welcome, we love the work-life balance, and we have seen some good initiatives by the government and local authorities to make it work even better.’ One example Kapur cites is IN Amsterdam (International Newcomers Amsterdam, formerly called the Expatcenter Amsterdam). ‘Since this was started, it has significantly simplified the visa-regime by creating a one-window solution. These things make a big difference,’ he says. ‘The sentiment of feeling welcome is often underestimated. If

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. Tata Consultancy Services Limited was founded in 1968 as a subsidiary of the Tata Group, and is considered to be one of India’s most innovative companies. Its global headquarters is in Mumbai (India) and it operates in 46 countries around the world. It is listed in Mumbai and has a current market capitalisation of around US$80 billion. With a revenue of US$16.5 billion (2016), it is the world’s 10th largest IT-services provider.

your family is not happy, it reflects back to you and your ability to focus on your daily tasks. What’s more, without the helping hand of organisations such as IN Amsterdam, it would be hard to attract the top talents that can boost your organisation. So, this aspect is also a major component of our success here.’

MANTRA Even though TCS has created a strong position for itself in the Dutch society and business community, Kapur and his staff realise that, in tomorrow’s digital world, yields from the past offer no guarantee for future performance. ‘We too must be able to reinvent ourselves constantly,’ he says. ‘But we feel that we are capable of doing so. We have the drive, millennials are eager to come and work in Amsterdam, and the environment here makes it easier for us to do so. The awareness that one should adopt a digital way of thinking and working is well-developed here, and there is a start-up scene that is constantly challenging us and introducing new business models that we can learn from. There is still some ground to win on the adoption-side, though. But that offers us an interesting business-opportunity, of course. [Laughs] In today’s business, it’s all about relevance. If you remain relevant to your customers, to your employees and to your environment, you continue to flourish.You could call this our mantra.’ <

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GOOD CITIZENSHIP But it works two ways. As an organisation, TCS feels very strongly about being a good citizen in the communities in which it operates. ‘Our simple belief is that if you contribute to a healthier society, you have healthier and better motivated employees, which ultimately leads to a healthier organisation.’ This company motto has made TCS highly visible in the expanded social, economic and creative networks of the Netherlands. For instance, TCS employees have initiated several IT-business platforms. It is also a benefactor of sporting events, such as the annual TCS Amsterdam Marathon. ‘In 2011, we signed up as the title sponsor and we recently renewed our contract until 2020. This initiative reflects our intentions to be an active part of the Dutch community for a longer period and to actively contribute to the wellness of everyone involved. The initiative’s success, in terms of brand engagement and involvement in community development, inspired our global organisation to follow in our footsteps.’



Beattie switched from renting to home-owning two years ago to join an ‘enthusiastic and growing’ market. Their renovated townhouse in the residential Zuid is one of Amsterdam’s most desirable addresses.

As art lovers, the couple regularly visit the Stedelijk Museum and the Jordaan’s many art galleries. A concert in Paradiso and, for Beattie, an Ajax game complete the mix. The city boasts more than 50 museums.


Grocery shopping is a mostly local affair, with supermarket trips supplemented by their favourite independent sellers, such as Le Fournil bakery, cheese specialist L’Amuse, and Chabrol wines. Wander down Beethovenstraat and you’ll find plenty more galore.


Beattie likes to run twice weekly in the Vondelpark or Olympic Stadium. Former hockey player Wellfare says she may return to one of the country’s most popular recreational sports: there are more than 20 hockey clubs in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.


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Both Beattie and Wellfare say their businesses should benefit from the expected influx of British companies to the city post-Brexit. Some 15,000 British nationals already call Amsterdam home.

Beattie mainly gets around on his quintessentially Dutch bike by WorkCycles, but the couple also travel by car and their small Amsterdam-made Stormer boat. As a city full of canals that is surrounded by water too, boating is as much a part of Amsterdam’s DNA as cycling. In the picture: Mia Wellfare, Alistair Beattie and a visiting niece


How internationals live in Amsterdam: Alistair Beattie and Mia Wellfare

Home for Alistair Beattie (46), coCEO of DDB & text Lauren Comiteau photo Marijn Scheeres/Phenster Tribal Amsterdam advertising agency, and his criminal investigator fiancée Mia Wellfare (35) is the peaceful, green and ‘grown-up’ neighbourhood of Amsterdam-Zuid. Both native Londoners, Beattie was an almost full-time business traveller until five years ago, when he decided to put down roots in the city he calls ‘stunning and happy’, a metropolis where ‘humans are welcome’ and where visual treats can be discovered ‘by just looking up’. As one of the world’s most important advertising hubs, Amsterdam’s international character, global talent pool and English-as-a-second-language designation make for good business. ‘You can really build multinational teams here,’ says Beattie, whose office employs more than 100 people from 14 nationalities. A barrister, Wellfare will be putting her wig in storage for the time being to take up her post as director of compliance forensic intelligence at the Amsterdam branch of the global risk consultancy firm, Control Risks. She arrived in Amsterdam early April to join Beattie full-time and expects to be kept busy as more companies relocate to Amsterdam post-Brexit. ‘I took this role because there’s so much opportunity here,’ she says. Amsterdam-Zuid fits the couple’s lifestyle: it is close to the airport for the still-travelling Beattie, and a short bicycle commute to his Amstelveen office. While Beattie’s workplace, like most creative enterprises, shuns suits and ties, Wellfare’s office is the more formal ‘pencil skirts and heels’ type of place. Still, she finds it a relaxed environment, where the 15 employees – from Senior Partner to receptionist – share daily lunches at noon in what she calls ‘egalitarian, family-style dining’. And while a typical day at the office for Beattie may last longer than the average 9-5, he still praises the work-life balance of a culture that, he explains, recognises the value of work but also realises there is more to life. That attitude, he says, is also good for getting the most out of his creative employees. ‘All work and no play make Jack and Jill dull boys and girls.’ Spoken like a true adman.

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Beatrixpark and the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest) are regular favourites, while boating to the Nieuwe Meer and trips to Bloemendaal and Zandvoort beaches make great seasonal escapes. The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area has plenty of (seaside and urban) beaches.


Banking on Amsterdam

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For Xiang Li, General Manager of China Construction Bank’s Amsterdam branch, setting up new offices in 2015 was as much a business venture as a personal adventure.

Two years ago, when the head office of China Construction Bank (CCB) in Beijing set its sights on Europe, Ms Li packed up her life and made the leap with her family to helm the Amsterdam office. Her challenge? Consolidate the Dutch market of the second-largest commercial bank of the text: Marie-Charlotte Pezé People’s Republic of China, and fifth-largest in the world (by photo: Niels Blekemolen market capitalisation). ‘We have a presence in 30 countries and it was important to provide services to our clients here with a physical office,’ Ms Li explains. In 63 years, CCB has grown from a state-owned bank specialised in construction and infrastructure projects, to a colossal financial institution that is one of the ‘Chinese big four banks’. Catering to the financial needs of large and medium-sized Chinese companies based in Europe, as well as multinational European companies based in China, is a priority, of large corporations and financial institutions that’s a short especially under the national ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. seven-minute train ride from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Ms Li is truly grateful to the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) and to amsterdam inbusiness EEROPEAN GATEWAY for their invaluable assistance from the get-go. ‘Not only did In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, Amsterdam’s place on they go above and beyond to help us find this great location, the European financial scene is only bound to grow more they also assisted in procuring visas for our employees. prominent. As Ms Li emphasises: ‘The Netherlands is known They continue to connect us to local organisations, invite as the European gateway’. The Dutch mastery of the English us to networking events and provide information regarding language makes it a prime location for international dealings, visibility. They are not only incredibly professional and she adds, and ‘Amsterdam has a superior network to the rest of the world. The logistics are just perfect’, which is important efficient, they really made us feel welcome,’ she says. for a country that is China’s second-largest trade partner A CLOSE-KNIT NETWORK in Europe, where the past ten years have seen a dramatic Amsterdam’s relative small size allows for a tight network increase in deals in domains such as telecommunications, and close collaboration, not only with local institutions transportation, insurance and IT services. China Construction Bank (Europe) S.A. Amsterdam Branch such as ING, ABN AMRO and Rabobank but also picked beautiful modern offices on a high floor of the Viñoly with the more than 400 Chinese companies present in the Netherlands, with whom dialogue is facilitated by building in Zuidas, which offers sprawling views over the surrounding business district. The area is strategic – a beehive organisations such as ACIEN (Association of Chinese

GREEN FINANCE Committed to its integration in Dutch culture, CCB is pouring a lot of its talents and energy into social and environmental endeavours. Not only is the company developing a welfare scheme and pension plan for its employees – which isn’t very common in China –, it also inspires staff to participate in charities, such as the Zuidas Run. Keen to take part in fun projects too, CCB is sponsoring a TV series, Wu Wen and Xing Ya, which tells the story of two pandas who are coming to the Netherlands from China as part of an exchange programme. CCB reports on its green activities annually, which include waste elimination and recycling programmes. Employees are encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint by limiting and registering all car usage, and using public transportation instead. Furthermore, aware of the sensitive environmental issues in China, the Amsterdam branch is hard at work creating a collaborative network between its adoptive and home countries, engaging experts in water and air pollution, and agriculture and food safety. CCB in numbers • Founded in 1954 • Second-largest bank of the People’s Republic of China • Fifth-largest bank in the world by market capitalisation • Ranked #2 in Forbes Global 2,000 ranking of the biggest, most powerful and most valuable companies in the world in 2016 • RMB 20,963,705 million in assets (as of 31 December 2016) • 362,482 employees • The bank has 36 tier-one branches and 223 tier-two branches • Five branches interact under CCB EU: Amsterdam, Paris, Milan, Barcelona and Warsaw • Amsterdam Branch opened on 30 June 2015.

GOING DUTCH ‘People here have strong values when it comes to tolerance, welfare and the environment’, admires Ms Li. They’re also famous for their directness, which Ms Li finds efficient: ‘At first it’s surprising, but their frankness allows you to know

what they think and want, which is very practical in business.’ What really helps the nine Chinese staff members of China Construction Bank (Europe) S.A. Amsterdam Branch feel more at home – in addition to dining at the Sea Palace restaurant, which Ms Li says serves authentic Cantonese cuisine – is regularly going out with their Dutch colleagues at the end of the day. ‘The Dutch care about their personal lives very much; it’s funny when suddenly, at 5 p.m., they switch from their professional to their personal face!’ It’s a new life rhythm for Ms Li, who is sometimes worried her daughter may have trouble readapting to a more rigid school schedule when they return to China. ‘I really enjoy my life here. I’ve learned a lot about business but especially about the Dutch lifestyle – they cherish their health, physical activity, their family life. It feels very balanced.’ < 21 AMS

Investment Enterprises in the Netherlands). As for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Ms Li insists that their relationship is one of mutually-beneficial coexistence: ‘We’re very good friends with the people at ICBC. They came to Amsterdam before us, and we have a lot to learn from them. We focus on different products and clients, so we don’t consider each other competition.’ In the coming months, CCB will be implementing a stateof-the-art, global operating system to facilitate its huge amount of deals and transactions. The advanced system will integrate cash management and online banking, a considerable advantage to its local and global clientele.

In terms of global size, Amsterdam may well be small and compact compared to other cities, but that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop it from packing a powerful and enviable punch when it comes to the fields of science and academy.

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text Sarah Gehrke & Rhys Elliott

photo: AMOLF


A LOT TO OFFER Such diversity in ideas and, crucially, disciplines is still to be found in the Amsterdam of today. A distinctive feature of the city’s academic landscape is the way it brings together what the Dutch call ‘alpha-’, ‘beta-’ and ‘gamma-’ sciences: Humanities and the arts rub shoulders with natural sciences, data, IT and the socalled STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics); those, in turn, are complemented by behavioural and social studies, as well as economics and law. All this happens on a geographically small scale due to the city’s compact size and the region’s excellent connectivity. The Netherlands may be a relatively small country, but its scientific output ranks in the global Top 20 – in absolute terms – and the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area is the nation’s leading region for academic research and education. It is home to the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), as well as two academic medical centres, a university of applied sciences, four (soon to be five) research institutes belonging to the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), several research institutes of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), two biomedical research institutes, the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR), a technology centre and an e-science centre. As a result, the possibilities for mutual inspiration and collaboration are unparalleled. The old distinctions blur; disciplines mingle. And this is extremely good news for businesses, as looking beyond one’s desk, faculty or institute is often what fuels the development of new technologies, products and services. The new chances resulting from collaborations of academia, science and technology with businesses are manifold. Mathematics provides insights into dynamic pricing technologies. Data sciences help to improve e-sales and image recognition.

A distinctive feature of the city’s academic landscape is the way it brings together the humanities and the natural sciences

It’s data sciences, of course, that has been causing the biggest stir on a global scale of late. Applied to existing industries, the discipline has shaken up conventional processes and disrupted markets left, right and centre. The fact that Amsterdam has a well-developed data science community and is home to the world’s largest data transport hub, the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, indicates a healthy base for further innovations. STRENGTH IN PARTNERSHIPS Amsterdam Science Park plays a key role in this growth, with the UvA, VU, the Centrum voor Wiskunde & Informatica (Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science, CWI) and the Netherlands eScience Center (NLeSC) joining forces here to collaborate in the fields of data analytics, visualisation and image recognition, machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence. This joint research has already led to several spin-off projects and numerous public-private partnerships. Through all of this, the City of Amsterdam is not far behind, enthusiastically throwing its weight behind facilitating further collaborations between the worlds of research and business. It has recently appointed a senior manager for knowledge and innovation, Martijn de Boer, who will function as a point of contact for businesses and help them connect directly to the city’s ever-evolving science and technology network.

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Amsterdam has been a haven for scientific and academic advances ever since the Dutch Golden Age. Then an international powerhouse of economic and social development, the country’s tolerant climate meant Amsterdam and the Netherlands became home to many immigrants who had been persecuted on religious grounds in their native countries. The new Amsterdammers contributed not only to the city’s economic lead, but also to its cultural and scientific eminence. One of the luminaries still contributing to this climate of cultural and scientific ambition is Jan Leeghwater, the 17th century architect and hydraulic engineer whose polder techniques have enabled the Dutch to live on dry land, metres below sea level, ever since. Another, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, is known as the father of microbiology. And of course, there’s Baruch Spinoza, the philosopher whose ideas laid the groundwork for the Enlightenment.

Amsterdam Science Park Amsterdam Science Park has one of the largest concentrations in beta sciences in Europe and is a hub for research, innovation and entrepreneurship. It is the home of world class research institutes, universities and more than 130 companies, from science-based start-ups to multinationals. With over 10,000 students, scientists and entrepreneurs, the park offers excellent opportunities for research and businesses in fields such as ICT & Data (infrastructure), Sustainable Chemistry, Physics, and Advanced Instrumentation. With the AMSIX, 80 per cent of Europe can be reached in 50 milliseconds from Amsterdam Science Park. The park is a joint development by the UvA, the City of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

Not that there isn’t plenty going on already. Take the Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography (ARCNL), a public-private initiative partly funded by the City of Amsterdam: its cooperation between ASML and academic researchers is a Dutch first in terms of scale, intensity and long-term outlook in fundamental research dedicated to global semiconductor industry. Elsewhere, several multinational corporates either have their own research facilities in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (such as Shell) or engage in joint research projects with research institutes – examples for the latter are ASML, AkzoNobel, Tata Steel, Bosch, Nikon, Qualcomm and IBM.

A smarter city Smart city initiatives in Amsterdam are flourishing, aiming to make life smoother for residents, businesses and visitors via ingenious IT and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. The city is home to numerous projects focusing on mobility, circular economy, public safety and more, providing ample trade opportunities, too. Amsterdam Smart City is the central hub for the region’s best and brightest smart innovators. Software company Triggi is a member of the network, enabling household smart devices, apps and services to work together, bringing smart technology closer to home. While Dutch company LiveOP is tackling the safety challenges faced by police, fire departments and cities in general through dynamic tech solutions. Amsterdam Health, initiated by the Amsterdam Economic Board, is the community for those who are working on staying as healthy as possible and on preventing diseases. It links organisations that contribute to this ambition and want to collaborate, strengthen and scale up their activities far beyond the metropolitan area.

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CROSS-POLLINATION Amsterdam’s science and academic community has a lot to offer to the business world, with numerous research topics particularly ripe for collaboration and development. These include nanotechnology at the ARCNL and photovoltaic devices (contributing hugely to the further development of solar technology). Then there’s advanced instrumentation, with the Dutch National Institute for Subatomic Physics (Nikhef) developing instruments for experiments at CERN and others, plus the AMOLF institute and the two universities also combining their strengths in the field. Sustainable chemistry is another field where Amsterdam excels. The UvA and VU have partly merged their chemistry departments and have made sustainability a key characteristic of their research. They have an excellent reputation in developing new catalytic solutions, resulting in several spin-offs and public-private partnerships – just one eye-catching example is how they’re developing microbiological techniques to convert sunlight into organic molecules. One of the fields where Amsterdam’s spirit of collaboration and cross-pollination comes to the fore the most is life sciences and health. Both universities, the UvA and VU, have a strong biomedical focus and have affiliated medical centres (AMC and VUmc). Other major institutes include the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), Sanquin (the blood supply foundation) and the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA), a globally-leading dental education and research facility. In total, the sector has more than 3,000 scientific staff active in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Research activities are often commercialised and occur across a broad spectrum, which includes oncology, neurosciences, immunology, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases; there are also joint initiatives for medical imaging techniques. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Of course, it’s not all about the big, long-term solutions. In Amsterdam, temporary or unexpected collaborations result in frequent, newsworthy successes. For example, the Van ’t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, one of the eight UvA research institutes at Amsterdam Science Park, focuses on creating more efficient and sustainable materials and


The possibilities for mutual inspiration and collaboration are unparalleled. The old distinctions blur; disciplines mingle

processes, works with BMW and Volkswagen to develop better batteries for electric vehicles. But it has also partnered with Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum to explore how paintings and sculptures deteriorate and, consequently, how better to clean and protect them. This small example perfectly encapsulates how major, world-changing research can in return have a great impact on the city in which it was conceived – be it in business, culture or the day-to-day life of citizens. And that matters too. In addition to the many ongoing Amsterdam Smart City projects, which bring government and academic parties together with businesses and citizens to tackle urban issues, the young Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute) is a public-private institute focusing on applying technology to urban themes, such as mobility, water, energy, data, waste and food. In the institute – as in Amsterdam in general – science, education, government, business partners and social organisations are collaborating closely to tackle the complex challenges metropolitan regions face today and tomorrow, and to find modern, future-proof solutions that will then be integrated into the city. After all, working together for the greater good is very much in the spirit of Amsterdam.< photo: Ivar Pel

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photo: Paul Deelman

UPDATE: LOGISTICS Via plane, ship, road, train and Internet, Amsterdamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s modernday logistics possibilities have done its forbearers proud.

Going my way?

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text Lauren Comiteau

photo: Gerard-Jan Vlekke

Logistics: not the most glamorous sounding of industries. But everything – from jeans to coal to data – has to get from point A to point B, making this the third largest sector in Amsterdam in terms of employment and turnover. ‘Amsterdam has 400 years of expertise in trade and logistics,’ says Joep Schroeders, Foreign Investments Manager of Logistics and Aerospace for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. ‘What we see today is the logical extension of the Golden Age traders.’ While those Golden Age traders set the logistics bar using Amsterdam’s position at the mouth of Amstel to transport products though the city’s ample waterways and beyond, most of Amsterdam’s logistics operations today centre around Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. It’s the EU’s bestconnected airport, serving 322 destinations worldwide. It also ranks third in Europe in terms of the amount of cargo transported annually: 1.66 million tonnes in 2016.

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A LOGISTICAL WONDER ‘Amsterdam is very important because we can move by air freight to the world,’ says Marco Klaassen, Managing Director for Mainland Europe of logistics company Aramex, whose Dutch headquarters and 10,000-m2 warehouse are ten minutes away from the airport. ‘It keeps transit costs and times down.’ And although logistics-wise Schiphol Airport is to

Amsterdam what the port is to Rotterdam, Amsterdam also has its own port: the world’s largest for shipping cacao and petrol. In addition, there are two other ‘ports’: the dataport Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) and the Greenport Aalsmeer, where the world’s largest flower auction is based. Royal FloraHolland is a cooperative of 4,500 flower and plant growers whose base is roughly the size of Monaco. Some 20 million flowers pass through the auction house daily: 12.5 billion flowers and plants in 2016 alone. Keeping these perishable plants and blooms moving quickly through the facility and the cool supply chain make Royal FloraHolland, despite its emotion-inducing product, a logistical wonder. ‘It’s stone-cold logistics,’ says Royal FloraHolland’s CEO Lucas Vos. In addition to domestic stems, every day eight to ten cargo freights of flowers arrive at Schiphol – from as far afield as Kenya, Israel and Ecuador – and have to be processed for sale at the auction. Although Royal

Photo: Cultura


photo: Ed Seeder

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Nippon Express ‘As a rule of thumb,’ says Robert Schaap, General Manager of Logistics for Nippon Express, ‘the Japanese community in Amstelveen either works for us or for our customers.’ Indeed, Amstelveen is home to one of Europe’s larger Japanese communities, and Amsterdam boasts some 350 Japanese firms, including Yakult and Mitsubishi. For Nippon, which moves close to 25,000 parcels per day in Amsterdam alone, proximity to Schiphol is key. Speed is increasingly important with the rise of e-commerce, which has grown from 0 to 30 per cent of Nippon’s total business over the past three years.

FloraHolland ships by plane overseas, 95 per cent of its flowers stay in Europe and are dispersed mostly via refrigerated trucks to Germany, France and the UK. ‘This is the best logistical setup you can have,’ says Vos. ‘It’s all concentrated in one place. We’re right in the middle of those three main countries so it’s just perfect.’ When the Rijksmuseum was renovated in 2003, Japanese logistics company Nippon Express was the company responsible for moving out many of its treasures, including some of Rembrandt’s masterpieces. The company then kept the priceless artwork safely stored during a 10-year long renovation before moving them all back. And it’s not only fine arts that fall under the company’s logistics rubric: Nippon Express transports humans, too. ‘We first moved our own people to Europe, but then we branched out to include tourists,’ says General Manager of Logistics Robert Schaap. A CHANGING INDUSTRY Logistics in the 21st century also means Internet traffic data management, and the non-profit organisation Amsterdam Internet Exchange is the world’s largest neutral Internet Exchange Point (IXP). Established in 1997, the association promotes peering – or the exchange of Internet traffic – within its 800 plus networks. ‘We keep the Internet fast, robust and open,’ says a company spokesman. It is indeed the rise of the digital world that has led to the biggest upheaval in traditional logistics operations. Logistics Company Aramex’s e-commerce clients include Zara,

FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY Amsterdam’s unique combination of data and traditional infrastructure make it a world leader in logistics. ‘The city is internationally-focused. It’s open and outgoing and English speaking. We can find good people to work for us,’ says Klaassen. There are some 2,000 logistics companies in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, including the Japanese company Yusen Logistics and Crane Worldwide, which is building a state-of-the-art facility at Schiphol airport as ‘a key gateway’ into Europe. In 2016, 157 new foreign companies set up shop in the Amsterdam area, all of them relying on the region’s logistics services. Many are drawn to Amsterdam because of its increasing focus on sustainability. Schiphol is working on environmental solutions including electric transport and renewable energy, while Amsterdam has set itself the goal of becoming emissions-free by 2025. It’s a legacy that would make the city’s Golden Age forefathers proud. <

‘The city is internationallyfocused. We can find good people to work for us’

Port of Amsterdam Logistics hotspot Atlaspark in the Port of Amsterdam is the place to be. Fashion brand G-Star RAW, Renault Trucks and Starbucks have all taken up residence there, profiting from its aggregation of rail-road-sea transport options. Multinational corporations such as the Japanese chemical company Tosoh Corporation and the Indian firm Tata Steel both use the port to store or ship their wares. The Port of Amsterdam is also perfectly placed for transport deep into the heart of Europe, with the IJ river offering inland shipping in addition to the wider shores of the North Sea.

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Nike and Mango. Whereas three years ago e-commerce wasn’t a part of the company’s business equation, today it accounts for 35 per cent of overall revenue. ‘E-commerce is constantly changing our industry,’ says Klaassen of Aramex, which was originally a traditional forwarding company. ‘It was very price-driven then, with customers looking for the best deal and not at service. E-commerce is a different game. The consumer is more important than the customer.’

30 AMS Managing Director of Mitsubishi Nederland, Akira Sakuma


In his time in Amsterdam, Mitsubishi Nederland’s Managing Director Mr Akira Sakuma also contributed a great deal towards strengthening Dutch-Japanese relations, for which he was given the first ‘I Amsterdam Ambassador’ honorary pin.

‘The Netherlands is the place to be for Japanese companies’

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text Paul Anstiss photography Mark Horn/Phenster


The outgoing Managing Director of Mitsubishi Nederland has become the first recipient of a special honorary pin from amsterdam inbusiness for his work in furthering cultural and business ties between the city and the Japanese community. In addition to his work as Managing Director for the major Japanese business conglomerate in the Netherlands, Mr Akira Sakuma served as chairman of both the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands and the Japan Festival Foundation. The 58-year-old says working in Amsterdam has been the highlight of his career and he will treasure his award as the first ‘I Amsterdam Ambassador’. ‘I feel greatly privileged to be awarded this honorary pin,’ he says. ‘I was fortunate that I could contribute to several projects over the past three years, and am truly grateful to those who supported me during that time. The fact that this was valued as a strengthening of Dutch-Japanese relations is the highest recognition I have received during my stay in the Netherlands.’ The honorary pin was presented to Mr Sakuma on behalf of the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam by the Mayor of the Municipality of Amstelveen, councillor Mirjam van ’t Veld. During a special banquet that was held in Mr Sakuma’s honour, Van ’t Veld told him, ‘What you have done for Mitsubishi, the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Amstelveen is amazing.You have created so much value for the region and will leave an everlasting impression.’

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‘The Netherlands has a long history of working and trading with foreign companies’

Japan Festival The Japan Festival is an annual celebration of Japanese culture. In 2016, the event – which takes place every October on Stadsplein, Amstelveen – was attended by around 20,000 people.Visitors can sample food from the numerous Japanese restaurants based in Amsterdam, as well as enjoy music and stage performances by Japanese artists, including the talented students from the Japanese School of Amsterdam. The Japan Festival is sponsored by the Municipality of Amstelveen, amsterdam inbusiness, and Dutch and Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi Nederland.

TRUST BETWEEN TWO NATIONS The accolade comes as Mitsubishi Corporation celebrates 50 years in the Netherlands, but commercial ties between the Japanese and the Dutch date as far back as the 17th century when the Dutch East India Company (VOC) enjoyed a privileged position as the only foreign entity with which Japan would do business. That 400-year-old trust between the two nations continues to this day, and now more than 750 Japanese companies and more than 7,000 Japanese people have established bases and homes in the Netherlands. Amsterdam and the nearby municipality of Amstelveen have become a home-away-from-home for the Japanese community. Apart from Mitsubishi Nederland, which manages more than 40 shareholding companies in the Netherlands, Mitsubishi Corporation has four other subsidiaries in this country. Interests include investment and finance, food processing, automobiles, off-shore wind power generation, and life sciences. ‘THE BEST PLACE TO BE’ During Mr Sakuma’s tenure as Chairman of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce (JCC), he worked with other organisations to hold annual seminars in Tokyo and Osaka to encourage Japanese companies to invest in the Netherlands. ‘We show them the reasons why the Amsterdam area is so attractive,’ says Mr Sakuma, ‘and since the seminar was established ten years ago, the number of Japanese companies coming to the Netherlands has increased year by year.’ Mr Sakuma believes that, with Brexit, some Japanese businesses may choose to relocate to the Netherlands. ‘Most Dutch people are very positive towards Japan, the Japanese people, Japanese culture and Japanese companies,’ he says. ‘Compared to other countries, the Netherlands is the best place to be for Japan. It has a long history of working and trading with foreign companies – it’s in the Dutch DNA. The fact that nearly everyone speaks English in Amsterdam also makes it easy to communicate and do business. JAPANESE CULTURE IN AMSTERDAM Prior to his arrival, Amsterdam’s Japanese Festival was organised by local Dutch residents, but it was not long before Mr Sakuma’s talents were harnessed by the amsterdam inbusiness team and the Japan Festival Foundation to give it a more authentic feel. In 2016, around 20,000 people attended the event not just to taste Japanese cuisine, but to experience Japanese stage performances and take part in cultural workshops. What used to take place on a biennial basis has become so popular with Mr Sakuma’s help that it will now take place every October. Mr Sakuma was also responsible for co-sponsoring

‘The fact that this was valued as a strengthening of Dutch-Japanese relations is the highest recognition I received during my stay in the Netherlands’ an important exhibition of Rembrandt’s etchings and Japanese Echizen Paper at the Rembrandt House. Even the Netherlands’ most famous artist knew a good thing when he saw it, and he used the Japanese paper for some of his works, including the famous etching of his son Titus. NO GOODBYE Mr Sakuma says he will be back to visit Amsterdam very soon, not least because his daughter loves the place so much that she decided to stay. So now he has family ties to the country as well. ‘I will miss the atmosphere of this openminded society,’ he says wistfully. ‘But this is not goodbye, it’s merely ‘tot gauw’ (see you soon).’ < photo: Katrien Mulder/Hollandse Hoogte

Japanese Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands Founded in 1976, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce (JCC), now has more than 350 members. Its aim is to foster and promote friendship and economic relations between the Netherlands and Japan, and it holds seminars for Japanese companies seeking to invest in the Netherlands, as well as organising regular trade missions. Furthermore, the JCC has also become the core organisation that covers the whole of the Japanese society in the Netherlands.

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Facts and Figures • More than 350 Japanese companies, including Hitachi, Yakult, Yamaha and Mitsubishi, are based in the Amsterdam area. • More than 7,000 Japanese people live in the Netherlands, of which 3,000 live in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, making it one of the world’s largest Japanese expat communities. • The Japanese School of Amsterdam is supported by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Japanese government.

photo: Harold Versteegh/Hollandse Hoogte


While still searching for a vegetarian restaurant to call home, the avid cook enjoys the city’s increasingly popular brunch scene, especially on a terrace on a Sunday morning for that ‘Amsterdam vibe’.


A casual office with no dress code and a ‘start-up’ feel, Siwiec is treated to communal daily lunches, Friday office drinks and weekly creative breakfasts. Some 170 IT companies are based in Amsterdam.


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‘Challenging!’ is how Siwiec describes trying to find a room in Amsterdam’s superhot real estate market. Plus side? In such a compact city, even its more affordable outskirts are desirable.


How internationals live in Amsterdam: Weronika Siwiec


Siwiec puts her discount I amsterdam City Card to good use by going to the Stedelijk Museum or FOAM every couple of weeks. The illustrator also enjoys Amsterdam’s many private galleries and its summer festivals.


Although Siwiec misses the green of her native Warsaw, she finds refuge in her favourite Flevopark and the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest).

Young, European and creative, Warsaw-native Weronika Siwiec text Lauren Comiteau (28) finds photo Marijn Scheeres/Phenster Amsterdam the perfect place to satisfy her wanderlust. Siwiec moved to the city a year ago and found a position as a graphic designer at WeTransfer, a cloud-based file transfer service based in Amsterdam. She works eight-hour days, five days a week, fully enjoying the Dutch work-life balance. ‘There’s respect,’ she says. ‘At the end of the day, it’s: ‘Let’s go home and think about something else.’ I like that.’ Siwiec appreciates her Amsterdam workplace, which she says is quite typical for a tech start-up. ‘We have standups, meetings; it’s community-like and cool,’ she says. With table tennis, Dutch classes, healthy communal lunches (except for Fat Fridays, where the Dutch stamppot and burgers replace salads and mostly vegetarian fare), ‘creative breakfasts’ and topical presentations for its approximately 80 employees, it’s the perfect place to bond and be inspired. ‘The mission of WeTransfer has always been to support the creative communities,’ Siwiec says of the file-sharing service, whether it’s the artists they feature online or the employees in their IJ riverside office. An architect and designer by trade, Siwiec also illustrates scenes from her Amsterdam life and posts them on Instagram (@ weronikamarianna).

Siwiec exercises several times a week, either in her local gym, by running in the Vondelpark, or taking yoga or modern dance classes. There are around 20 sports halls in Amsterdam, with boundless more private clubs.

Siwiec’s current priority is finding a new room to rent in a competitive real estate market. She plans to live in Amsterdam for at least two years – ‘to feel like a local,’ she says, ‘and then we will see. There are other temptations around the world. But I like it here.’

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When not in the office, Siwiec can most likely be found exploring the city – from its museums and parks to its summer festivals and vintage stores – on her bike, the only way she travels. ‘I love how it’s so easy and safe,’ she says. Although she does advise newcomers to purchase ‘an ugly bike and a good lock – I’m on my fourth already!’

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Amsterdamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s home advantage

COVER STORY: TALENT Amsterdamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s enviable position as one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most competitive economies and business climates relies on a highlyskilled international workforce. To maintain its advantage, the city has set about attracting talent with determination, creativity and a healthy dose of Dutch pragmatism.

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text Alison McGarry

photo: B Building Business


There is a reciprocal relationship between Amsterdam and the talent it attracts. As business continues to thrive, with increasing numbers of multinational companies and adventurous start-ups setting up shop, spurred on by an accelerating shift towards a circular economy, talent is in hot demand. And that’s a fantastic problem to have. By looking at the issue from all sides and working collaboratively to attract employees from overseas, Amsterdam is leading the way by providing an exceptionally high standard of education, engaging in improving the quality of life of its international community, and being a champion of diversity in the workforce. ‘What do you need?’ It’s a simple question, but one that is so rarely posed to a city’s international residents. However, in Amsterdam – where innovation, progressive policies and entrepreneurial thinking prevails – it actively tasks itself with finding out exactly what would entice more international talent to call it home. The Open Amsterdam strategy for international talent is a manifestation of this very question. Representatives from the local government, universities, healthcare providers, companies and community-oriented organisations in Amsterdam have collaborated on devising a plan to address these needs, falling into three broad categories – namely, education, work and quality of life. Involving internationals in the discussion through open meetings and workshops is a way in which Amsterdam and its international citizens work together to make improvements in areas of international schooling, housing and access to the labour market.

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ASSISTANCE FOR NEWCOMERS The driving force behind the Open Amsterdam strategy is IN Amsterdam (International Newcomers Amsterdam). Previously known as Expatcenter Amsterdam, this

Entrepreneurs with a global outlook Inholland University of Applied Sciences turns out graduates with creative and forwardthinking business ideas along with the practical knowledge to launch them. The International Business Innovation Studies (IBIS) programme is an English-taught degree that began in 2014. The programme is designed to produce agents of innovation: business-savvy entrepreneurs that create opportunities for growth in Amsterdam’s already thriving economy. The IBIS programme places emphasis on business innovation within an international context, ensuring that graduates are globally-focused and able to excel among Amsterdam’s start-up scene.

organisation works as a facilitator between companies and international newcomers, helping to arrange necessary visas, work permits and other documentation that comes with relocating to a new country. Through the assistance of IN Amsterdam, companies that are looking to hire talent from abroad can even begin the initial immigration procedures before the employee steps on a plane, meaning all the essential paperwork is done and dusted upon their arrival. In 2016, IN Amsterdam achieved 16 per cent growth and assisted more than 12,000 international newcomers in Amsterdam. Further growth of 15-20 per cent is expected for the coming year, inspiring the organisation to relocate to larger premises to meet the rising demand and provide space to expand their core services as needs arise. As a further part of its rebranding from the Expatcenter Amsterdam, IN Amsterdam is working more closely with amsterdam inbusiness to implement ideas for attracting talent. FOR THE ESTABLISHED AND THE NEW Fortunately, immigration procedures in the Netherlands are frequently shaped with talent acquisition in mind. The highly-skilled migrant scheme is one such initiative that enables employees who are from outside the European Union to work in the Netherlands, providing they meet a certain salary threshold. A tax benefit, known as the 30 per cent reimbursement ruling applies to these migrants, making the move particularly advantageous. Amsterdam’s universities and higher-education providers have been proactive in expanding their international student bodies, and are now seeing an increased number of their students remaining in the country after graduating. To promote these efforts, IN Amsterdam worked closely with national governmental partners to help introduce the orientation year permit, which enables recent international graduates to work or intern for one year in the Netherlands while searching for their dream job. This guarantee of a fixed residence permit for a year removes significant pressure from their job search. They can even apply for this initiative up to three years after graduating, allowing them the chance to return to their home country before coming back to the Dutch capital to pursue their careers. Never a city to rest on its laurels, Amsterdam, one of the world’s top start-up capitals, also implemented welcoming immigration procedures to encourage international entrepreneurs to launch their business ideas in the city. The start-up visa (‘scheme for start-ups’) grants international start-ups a permit to live in the Netherlands while setting their innovative business proposals in motion. As they

photo Jesse Kraal

From top: ???

photo: Jesse Kraal

photo Martins Mazonis

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photo: B Building Business

clockwise from top left: B.Amsterdam coworking offices, the Thinking Hut, B.Startup School Amsterdam, Spaces Herengracht

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photo: Jasper Derksen


A HIGHLY-EDUCATED WORKFORCE Amsterdam’s higher-education offering consistently ranks among the world’s best. The largest education providers – the University of Amsterdam (UvA), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), Inholland University of Applied Sciences and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) – are especially committed to welcoming international students and offer a varied selection of study programmes in English. Bilingual lecturers, Englishlanguage course materials and international student networks make studying in Amsterdam an attractive option, even for international, non-Dutch speaking students. Also, several educational institutes in Amsterdam are working to increase the knowledge base in sectors where it will be most beneficial. These specialised education providers attract international students looking to obtain qualifications in niche industries and areas experiencing a high level of growth. The Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) is one such organisation that strives to find practical solutions to complex urban challenges. The institute instigates cooperation between a diverse range of disciplines to devise innovative approaches to sustainability, food security, water and waste management, and health. In September 2017, AMS launches its new Master of Science programme: Metropolitan Analysis, Design and Engineering (MSc MADE). This study programme will

Coding for Amsterdam is a prime example of the city’s commitment to fostering a new generation of talent

prepare graduates for facilitating collaborations between government departments, companies, investors and citizens to implement ideas. These interdisciplinary engineers could significantly contribute to Amsterdam’s business climate in the years to come. Collaboration is also the ethos behind the recently-opened Amsterdam School of Data Science. This venture shares knowledge and resources between the VU, UvA, AUAS, and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (Centre for Mathematics & Computing Science). Amsterdam’s reputation in the increasingly data-driven world of business will undoubtedly benefit from more graduates in this field. By offering a wide choice of study programmes in what is tipped to be ‘the sexiest job of the 21st century’ by Harvard Business Review, the Amsterdam School of Data Science is set to attract ambitious talent from around the world. Specialised educational opportunities in Amsterdam don’t stop there. B. Startup School Amsterdam (BSSA) saw an opportunity to close the gap between higher-educated 20-somethings in need of experience and the vast number of Amsterdam-based start-ups hunting for skilled staff. The

Developing talent from all cultural backgrounds Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences has developed a programme that recognises that inclusiveness is essential to maintaining Amsterdam’s diverse international talent pool. Students that Matter is a collaboration between the university and the Foundation for Refugee Students. It offers extensive support to students who are refugees, including language courses, counselling services, social activities, peer support and specialised assistance with academic skills. Not only does this enable refugee students to transition more easily into life in Amsterdam, it also promotes diversity and an environment of cultural inclusivity within the wider student body.

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find their feet among Amsterdam’s supportive business community, the new start-ups can work to become eligible to receive an extended residence permit as self-employed people. This not only attracts ambitious innovators to Amsterdam, but gives them reason to remain and contribute to economic growth in what has come to be known as one of the top three countries with the lowest business costs. Of course, the frenzy of business activity taking place in the city has an additional positive impact on internationals who’ve already made the move. Whether they were brought to Amsterdam by an international employer or attracted by the history, lifestyle and opportunities, the increasing number of career opportunities available give internationals-turned-locals more reason than ever to stay. A natural consequence of this influx of international talent, and their accompanying families, is that demand has risen for international schools in the region. The city is addressing this and strives to improve the quality of life for internationals through its Deltaplan, aimed at rapidly expanding existing international schools and opening new ones, while also making Dutch schools more international through bilingual education streams and special bridge classes for children just beginning to learn Dutch.


Space for talent Spaces, the worldwide network of co-working spaces (fifty five locations in nineteen countries and counting) was started in Amsterdam in 2006, by Martijn Roordink and a group of co-founders who believed that ‘the world of working was changing and could be more fun and effective by creating an inspiring social place for people to go to and interact’. It rents out flexible office space to small- and medium-sized businesses. Current office tenants include the Dutch offices of Uber, Paypal, GoPro and Spotify. In its native city the firm now has 50,000m2 of space across five locations: Herengracht and Vijzelstraat in Amsterdam’s UNESCO-listed Canal Belt, the Zuidas business district in the south of the city and The Hague and Rotterdam. The sixth Dutch location will be, yet again in Amsterdam, near the Amstel station, opening this fall. The ethos today remains as it was in the beginning: ‘offer energy and inspiration for entrepreneurs to be successful in what they do best.’

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43 AMS photo: Jesse Kraal


Top level international education The University of Amsterdam (UvA) offers one of the largest selections of English-taught study programmes in continental Europe. Consistently ranked among the top universities in the world, the UvA is gaining momentum as a preferred university for international students. Thanks to these efforts, companies based in Amsterdam are seemingly spoiled for choice when it comes to hiring highly-educated multilingual graduates. In 2016, the UvA launched its own job board to further facilitate opportunities between employers, its diverse student body and recent graduates. Employers can advertise positions and internships directly to the job board where they can be viewed exclusively by the UvA network. • Ranked as the most international university in the Netherlands • 4,000 international students • 160 international degree programmes

44 AMS A new generation of data science and IT professionals With more than 500 international information technology companies based in Amsterdam, IT and data science professionals are in high demand. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) is one of several education providers that recognised this opportunity and actively invested in providing international education in this growing sector through its Bachelor of Computer Science and Bachelor of Business Analytics degrees, both taught in English. The VU was also instrumental in the development of the Amsterdam School of Data Science, a collaborative initiative that shares resources with the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, to present students with all the possibilities of joining one of the most highly ranked professions of the century. • Top ranked research university • 3,000 international students • More than 120 international degree programmes

BSSA equips these job seekers with the tangible skills that start-ups most frequently require, such as coding, growth hacking and content creation, making them valuable assets to daring entrepreneurs. There has even been a drive to introduce a much younger age group to the exciting world of digital technology. Thanks to organisations like Coding for Amsterdam, primary schools are shown how to integrate coding skills into their curriculums. The philosophy behind this project is to give children first-hand experience with digital technologies and allow them to experience how creatively rewarding working with code can be. Coding for Amsterdam is a prime example of the city’s commitment to fostering a new generation of talent. Today, all students can access top-level education in Amsterdam, whatever their passion or skillset may be. United POP, the international arm of Deutsche POP, provides specialised education in music and the media industry. Webster University offers a Master’s degree in cyber security to keep up with one of the country’s fastest growing industries. New York Code & Design Academy has recognised the potential in Amsterdam’s IT sector and selected the city as its only location outside of the United States. House of Denim has not only well and truly cemented Amsterdam as the centre of the denim industry, but has paved the way for a new generation of denim lovers to continue this tradition at the world’s first and only Jean School, which also offers a one-year programme for international students. Aside from arming students with globally-recognised qualifications, Amsterdam goes one step further and assists new graduates in landing their first job. The International Talent Event Amsterdam (ITEA) is a not-for-profit initiative organised in collaboration between amsterdam inbusiness, Amsterdam Economic Board, IN Amsterdam, UvA, VU, HVA and Inholland. ITEA works as a gobetween for students and a broad range of companies: introducing ambitious talent to prospective employers and training students in the art of job seeking. During the event, students can receive personalised advice on their CV and career plans, learn tips for presenting themselves on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, gain experience in interview situations and make direct connections via match-making sessions. CELEBRATING DIVERSITY Positioning Amsterdam as a prime location for internationals to live and work is one thing, but encouraging newcomers to stay for the long term is the next challenge. Allowing for ease of integration and celebrating the city’s cultural diversity is crucial to making internationals feel at

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clockwise from top left: VU Campus, Lecture hall at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Childeren at the British School

photo: The Britisch school of Amsterdam

top: the University of Amsterdam (UvA) bottom: Jean School / House of Denim

photo: Maarten Noordijk


A little help goes a long way To assist new Amsterdammers with the practical aspects of settling into life in the city, IN Amsterdam runs a series of regular seminars to support international residents. These informative events highlight practical topics, such as getting to know the Dutch education system, how to learn Dutch, setting up a small business and filing annual tax returns. IN Amsterdam collaborates with its extensive network of partners to guide newcomers through the most-talked about issues, ensuring international residents come away with free advice, answers to their personal questions and make new connections with other members of the international community. Well aware that relocating to a new country affects spouses and children too, the team at IN Amsterdam also provides support to accompanying partners, such as helping them to settle in and find work that suits their interests and experience.

Encouraging cultural diversity is another way in which Amsterdam has been able to attract and maintain talent from every corner of the world

of Janneke Niessen, aims to inspire girls aged 10 to 14 to consider a career in technology by presenting the exciting world of IT in a more accessible way. The book is part of a campaign by ‘Inspiring Fifty’, a Europeanwide drive to advance women in leadership positions in the field of IT. Another initiative with a similar goal is ‘Smart City Challenges for Girls’. This competition is held in five cities throughout the Netherlands, putting primary-school girls to the test as it combines creative challenges with digital technology. Encouraging cultural diversity is another way in which Amsterdam has been able to attract and maintain talent from every corner of the world. It comes as no surprise then, that the city recognises international refugees as valuable assets to both society and economy. The Amsterdam Approach to Asylum Status Holders is a joint venture between several departments within the city. The programme provides customised support that enables refugees to enter or re-enter the workforce as early as possible. Dedicated case managers offer guidance and assistance, tailoring career opportunities to the individual’s professional and educational experience. By organising language courses, orientation programmes, assistance with finding employment, and secondary or higher education, the project helps refugees to acclimatise to life in Amsterdam.

READY FOR THE FUTURE With so much in motion, Amsterdam’s international appeal is unmistakable. Part of its charm lies in the fact that its 17th-century grandeur, canals and even historic windmills sit harmoniously alongside daring architectural development, modern sustainability initiatives and global business brands. This balance holds due to continuous collaborations between governmental, business and academic parties, while treating citizens as stakeholders. And when it comes to tackling issues honestly, a solid dash of that aforementioned Dutch pragmatism is essential, too. All initiatives put in place to attract and retain international talent in Amsterdam have been driven by getting to the very bottom of problems and working collaboratively to devise solutions. The same can surely be said for the issues and solutions of tomorrow. Be it in schools, higher education, work, quality of life or beyond, Amsterdam is taking every necessary step to remain a fantastic home to international students, employees, entrepreneurs and families. <

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home. With an economy built on trade, the Netherlands has traditionally had an international outlook. Today, this is more the case than ever, as the nation can attest to having one of the highest levels of English proficiency in the world. By their very nature, cities represent a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, however Amsterdam is unique in that its multiculturalism goes back as far as the 17th century. The 180 Nationalities Project demonstrates just how diverse the city is. Representatives from 180 different national backgrounds shared their stories about what it’s like to live in Amsterdam and how they came to call the city home. Having so many nationalities in a comparatively small European city means that workplaces are multicultural, multilingual and better equipped to compete on a world stage. Of course, Amsterdam’s diverse workforce also extends to gender balance. The Netherlands has a long-standing reputation for its progressive policies and egalitarian attitude in business and in life. Many initiatives are currently in place to promote gender balance within industries where women are under-represented. This year, the prestigious Abbey Road Institute Amsterdam music academy introduced the Darcy Proper Scholarship, which grants a full year’s tuition to one deserving recipient. Although anyone who meets the criteria can apply, the scholarship is designed to promote women in the largely male-dominated music industry. Amsterdam has also quickly responded to the gender gap within the IT sector, one of the city’s most profitable and buzz-worthy industries. Initiatives such as Project Prep, a novel written by Niki Smit and the brainchild

Global companies find Almere

In the fastgrowing Dutch city of Almere, just a brief train ride from Amsterdamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s city centre, the global cruise company Carnival Corporation has opened its gleaming new CSMART Academy.

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text Douglas Heingartner photography: Erwin Beenhakker


REALISTIC TRAINING The centrepieces of the CSMART Academy are undoubtedly the full-size bridge and engine simulators, whose massive screens allow Carnival officers to virtually operate cruise ships around 60 ports around the world, like New York, Copenhagen and Singapore. The centre features technologies never before used in the maritime industry, creating an experience that gives trainees an immersive, real-world environment where they can interact in real time, just as they would on a real vessel. The bridge simulators achieve this realism by using lifesized mock-ups of a Carnival vessel’s actual bridge and control consoles. A huge array of screens wrap around the bridge to provide a 220-degree virtual view of the ship’s surroundings. These simulators are similar to the flight sims used in the aviation industry, except that they don’t move up and down on hydraulic jacks. Instead, the screens convincingly recreate the effect of motion, emulating the sense of what it would be like on board without actually moving at all. The CSMART bridge sims recreate all manner of real-world maritime scenarios and sea conditions, like stormy seas, thick fog, hectic port traffic and even schools of jumping dolphins. This realism provides an authentic experience that lets crew members hone their skills in navigating complex situations. The CSMART Academy

One of Europe’s newest and fastest-growing cities, Almere was designed from scratch in 1976 based on a plan that incorporated as much of the surrounding water and nature as possible

also features simulators for the engine and voltage rooms, which are based on actual ship layouts. They replicate the sights, sounds and environmental conditions that the crew would actually encounter, replete with blaring alarms, mammoth floor vibrations and simulated smoke for practicing emergency scenarios. Each simulator is run by an instructor who directs it from afar, while cameras record everything so that the training can be reviewed later. In addition to their technical skills, trainees also learn to work as a coordinated team, based on roles rather than ranks. All Carnival Corporation’s officers are encouraged to speak up if they question a decision. A FEATHER IN ALMERE’S HAT The arrival of the Arison Maritime Center and CSMART Academy is a big win for Almere, as it forms a powerful testimonial from one of the world’s most recognised brands. Carnival Corporation is the biggest leisure travel company in the world, with about 120,000 employees working on the company’s ten cruise brands, which include Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and P&O. With a combined fleet of 102 cruise ships, they sail 11 million guests annually to more than 700 ports around the world. That’s why the centre represents a major economic boost to Almere and the greater Amsterdam region, generating an estimated economic impact of about €17.5 million per

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Representing a €75 million investment in Almere, Carnival Corporation’s new Arison Maritime Center is home to the CSMART Academy, which features the industry’s most advanced simulators and provides training to up to 6,500 of Carnival’s bridge and engineering officers every year. At 10,750 m2, the environmentallyfriendly CSMART – which stands for ‘Center for Simulator Maritime Training’ – is more than double the size of Carnival Corporation’s previous training site in Almere, which opened in 2009. What’s more, the Arison Maritime Center also has an onsite hotel exclusively for all its trainees. The campus’s buildings were designed by Dutch architect Paul de Ruiter, with construction carried out by Dutch firm Dura Vermeer. Sustainability was a key consideration at every stage: the buildings were constructed to LEED Gold environmental standards, and the simulator team even managed to reduce the power consumption and heat emission by 70 per cent due to virtualization.

PROFILE: CSMART ‘The city is centrally located in Europe, has an efficient airport close by (Schiphol) and a business-friendly environment with predominantly English speaking residents’

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year for the local community and region. Almere’s ideal location played a key role in Carnival’s decision to build the centre there, as did the Netherlands’ long and rich tradition of maritime excellence and its reputation as a welcoming place to do business. ‘Before locating our training centre, we considered different locations, but Almere really stood out. The city is centrally located in Europe, has an efficient airport close by (Schiphol) and a business-friendly environment with predominantly English speaking residents’, says CSMART’s Managing Director Hans Hederström. In fact, Carnival is among the many global companies that have recently chosen to invest in the region. Other international companies based in Almere and its surrounding province of Flevoland include Giant,Yakult, Mitsubishi Caterpillar, IBM and Staples. The roughly 250 international companies based here mainly hail from the US, the UK, Japan, Germany, France, Taiwan and South Korea, and specialise in industries such as engineering, aerospace, life sciences, renewable energy and IT. Almere offers an abundance of space to accommodate both residential and commercial investments, from business parks to campuses. It also has excellent procedures in place to facilitate the licensing or sale of land to set up a new business, or expand an existing one.

A CITY ON THE RISE One of Europe’s newest and fastest-growing cities, Almere was designed from scratch in 1976 based on a plan that incorporated as much of the surrounding water and nature as possible. Currently the eighth-largest city in the Netherlands, Almere now has about 200,000 citizens. As part of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, Almere is ideally situated, with transport links to numerous motorways, railways and waterways, and with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the Port of Amsterdam within easy reach. This nexus of connections will improve even more when the expansion of Lelystad Airport is completed in 2018, with a new focus on business passengers. With its many green spaces and a vibrant downtown area, Almere offers an exceptionally high quality of life. Offering plenty of healthcare and leisure facilities, the city is home to one of the biggest shipping districts in the Netherlands, and its comfortable, spacious and affordable homes make it an increasingly popular place to live. HIGH TECH IN THE DUNES The teamwork skills that are taught at the CSMART Academy also reflect the way its Almere location has been taking shape. Carnival Corporation partnered with the Dutch property group AMVEST Vastgoed to purchase a seven-acre plot of land in Almere Poort, called Duin. It is here, in this business and residential community, that they built the Arison Maritime Center, and through their collaborations with top Dutch companies, were able to ensure the centre met with the Carnival Corporation’s standards for excellence. Located right on the beautiful IJmeer lake, Duin forms a completely new part of the city in a unique landscape. With real dunes of up to 10-metres high, plus forests, beaches, a marina and a lively boulevard with apartments, shops and restaurants, Duin offers plenty of room for living and working. Its winding residential streets will eventually host about 3,000 homes, and an innovative water system uses the natural purifying process of the dunes. The International School Almere, for students aged 11 to 19 years, is just three kilometres away, and finding a parking space in Duin is easy. Likewise, the fibre-optic cabling here allows for some of the fastest data connections in the country, and transport is just as fast: with direct access to the newly-expanded A6 motorway and the Almere Poort train station, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is just over 30 minutes away, and Amsterdam’s city centre is even closer. Trains to Amsterdam leave every 12 minutes, and there’s even a seasonal ferry from Duin to Amsterdam. Perhaps best of all from a business perspective, Duin’s newness means that companies like Carnival have a lot of freedom in designing and building their new office or campus site, just the way they want it to be. <

Keeping Almere’s businesses in business Another leading international company that has chosen Almere is Staples, the American supplier of office supplies and business services. Its Benelux HQ and warehouse are located in a modern 25,000-metre site in the city, and the company also operates a Staples store downtown. In total, there are 300 full-time employees working for Staples in Almere. According to Conrad Hunneman, the head of Global Accounts for Staples Europe, there are several reasons that convinced Staples to settle here. Of course, the city has good connections, both by car and public transport, and is located close to a major airport (Schiphol). It is also centrally located in the Netherlands, as well as the wider Benelux region. But Almere’s businessfriendly attitude was also a crucial factor. ‘The local government was very cooperative during the process of building our offices and warehouse in Almere,’ says Hunneman. ‘Procedures didn’t take too long, and they were very helpful, thinking along with Staples at every stage. During the talks about building our offices, it felt like being at the table with business owners. And that hasn’t changed over the years.’

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CSMART Hotel Though only open to Carnival Corporation personnel, the CSMART Hotel is also a green technological feat. The 11-storey building has 176 luxury rooms, as well as a restaurant, gym, lounge area and even a small strip of beach with a volleyball court. To match the high-tech environment of the training centre, the hotel features smart TVs in every room, plus super-fast Wi-Fi. The hotel offers grand views of the water, with ceiling-to-floor glass spanning the whole length of every room: hotel guests get to behold the dunes, the marina, the former fort island of Pampus and even the City of Amsterdam in the distance. All that glass also reduces noise from the outside, and saves energy by keeping out excessive warmth from the sun, reducing the need for expensive and polluting airconditioning. Even better, the hotel is cleaned with ozoned water instead of chemicals. This water, which has been zapped at 40,000 volts, is much more effective than bleach, has no odour and leaves no residue. And the healthy menu in the hotel’s restaurant is rich with fresh seasonal food meeting the standard of excellence for the trainees.

The cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s success in attracting investors is creating a new challenge. The city is growing fast, and demand in the property market keeps rising. Cooperation within the larger metropolitan region is providing the solution.

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Embracing growth and avoiding sprawl

text Paul Anstiss


Town planners feel a sense of urgency in finding smart solutions if Amsterdam is to retain its charm and attractiveness as a place to live and do business. The answer, according to Lisette Van Doorn, CEO of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Europe, is to encourage people to look beyond the city centre to the 33 municipalities that form the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area and even beyond to the Holland Metropole region. Van Doorn believes that Amsterdam can open up and find the space it needs by creating interesting environments within striking distance of the city by car or public transport. ‘The city has transformed itself successfully over the last ten to 20 years, but it has almost become a victim of its own success,’ she says. ‘Where do you put everybody? We know that you can’t build high-rises in Amsterdam’s inner city, and no one wants that anyway. It would destroy the character of Amsterdam. But on its own, the city won’t be big enough to house everyone.’

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY The bureau for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area was recently established to coordinate development between municipalities and to speed up housing production. As Amsterdam’s population is growing by 15,000 inhabitants each year, immediate decisions are needed. According to the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area’s Director of Marketing Real Estate, Lex Brans, demographic and economic indicators foresee

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‘GOOD DENSITY’ Of course, urbanisation is not only a Dutch phenomenon. According to the United Nations Population Division, six out of ten people worldwide will live in a city by 2030. By 2050, the proportion will rise to seven out of ten. How to embrace this growth while avoiding urban sprawl is the question everyone is asking. Van Doorn says the answer lies in going back to the idea of neighbourhoods. ‘Before the car existed we had everything we needed to live, work and play close by. We’ve learned that this model is not so bad, but there needs to be access to other places as well. Connectivity is key, and to achieve that we need critical mass and denser cities. We call that ‘good density’.’ Yet Van Doorn also acknowledges that densification has not always been successful, and that there has often been insufficient mixed use and connectivity to make urban projects nice places to live and work. ‘We must create interesting neighbourhoods and provide amenities, public transport and necessary infrastructure like schools, hospitals and social centres in order to combine work, life and play within a short distance,’ she says.


Gershwin Brothers, Zuidas

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Zuidas Dok Zuidas Dok is the most important infrastructure project in the entire Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. It involves widening 10 kilometres of the busy A10 motorway to up to four lanes and will transform the heart of Amsterdam’s international business district. The project will vastly improve access to what is fast becoming a fully-fledged urban hub where people can live, work and play. Zuidas is already known as a top-level international knowledge and business district with more than 700 companies established there. By placing part of the A10 motorway underground there will be space for a major expansion of Metro, bus, tram, and rail services to Amsterdam and the rest of the country. Zuid Station, which is already one of the busiest in the country, will be enlarged to cater for the growing number of people who use it. Currently, 3,000 people live and work in Zuidas, but within the next 15 years that figure is expected to more than quadruple. To keep pace with demand from companies and their employees, 5,000 more homes will be built in addition to the 2,000 already there, along with new schools, shops, and medical centres. ‘More companies than ever before are asking not only what’s it like to do business in Zuidas, but what facilities we can offer their employees,’ says Zuidas spokesperson Miranda Post. ‘It is all part of a growing trend where people want to live close to their place of work.’

photo: Flying Holland

LITTLE PEARLS Brans says it makes sense for those seeking cheaper rents, more space and lower prices – whether for business or residence – to look beyond the direct orbit of Amsterdam. ‘Everywhere you go, there are little pearls,’ he says. ‘And you don’t have to go far to find them.’ The rental price of a typical two-bedroom apartment in central Amsterdam can cost upwards of �1,500 per month. However, a five-minute ferry ride across the IJ river behind Amsterdam’s Central Station will bring you to Overhoeks, a new residential hotspot where purchase and rental prices can be up to 40 per cent cheaper than in the city. Furthermore, the Amsterdam-Noord area has nearly twice as much green space as the city south of the IJ, and its new Shoreline Park has been described as a utopia for skaters, walkers, dreamers and poets. And if it’s culture you’re after, or the buzz of restaurants and nightlife, you need look no further than the Eye Filmmuseum or the nearby A’DAM Tower. SUSTAINABILITY AND CONNECTIVITY Building sustainable local economies with attractive public spaces is at the heart of Amsterdam’s urbanisation. Good connectivity is seen as essential. But turning plans into reality requires determination and joined-up thinking from the national government and local authorities. An example of such cooperation can be found just outside of Amsterdam in the municipality of Amstelveen. This suburb is one of the prime business locations in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, and is home to many big businesses across different sectors.

ReGen Villages, Oosterwold, Almere Almere, just 20-30 minutes by train from Amsterdam, is home to some innovative new housing projects. When plans to build a new ecovillage in nearby Oosterwold were first announced in 2016, little did the designers imagine that so much interest would be generated worldwide. The showcase project of ReGen Villages comprises 200 new homes, and has been designed with input from the community. The plan is to create a shared local ecosystem that reconnects people with nature, and links consumption with production. The concept combines a variety of innovative technologies, such as positive energy homes, renewable energy, energy storage, high-yield organic food production, vertical aquaponic and aeroponic farming, water management and waste-to-resource systems. Although Oosterwold ultimately has space for 15,000 homes, the designers aim to create a rich variety of low-density living and working environments and facilities rather than a highly urbanised development.

Schiphol 2 in Lelystad It’s official: Lelystad Airport is to undergo a phased expansion that will see it handle 45,000 short- and medium-haul flights per year in 2018. The extra capacity at Lelystad will take the pressure off Schiphol, enabling it to remain competitive as a main port and international hub. It is hoped that Lelystad will become an attractive alternative for airlines, despite its distance from Amsterdam. More than �900 million is being invested in rail improvements between Schiphol, Amsterdam, Almere and Lelystad, making it possible to run trains every ten minutes. The growth of Lelystad Airport will also open up opportunities for companies to establish themselves in a spacious region with good links to the rest of the Netherlands for a fraction of the price.

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increased growth in both residential and commercial development, as well as accommodation for businesses, start-ups and knowledge institutes. It’s his job to keep things on track. Brans refers to the fact that 2016 saw Amsterdam double its production of homes from the previous year to reach a total of 6,700. Over the coming five years, 60,000 houses will be developed in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. This will involve building on new land such as the island of IJburg, as well as transforming vacant offices and redeveloping industrial areas to create new mixed-use districts. Brans says the urbanisation of Amsterdam is a golden opportunity, not just for those who want to live here but also for investors. ‘During the economic crisis, there were only a handful of Dutch companies and housing corporations looking to invest in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Now there are more than 240 international investors attracted by returns of 3.7 per cent on housing, retail and offices. In fact, there is so much interest that for every square metre of real estate there is 15 times the amount of investment capital available.’

‘For every square metre of real estate, there is 15 times the amount of investment capital available’


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Building sustainable local economies with attractive public spaces is at the heart of Amsterdam’s urbanisation

Houthavens You don’t have to go very far in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area before you come across water. And lots of it. Living with water is second nature to the Dutch, and investors from around the world are now discovering why. Just ten minutes from the city centre, a new housing development on the IJ river is metamorphosing the Houthavens – a former lumber port where cargo ships from all over Europe used to dock – into a much soughtafter neighbourhood. The area is being radically transformed into a residential development built on seven carfree artificial islands. Each island will have its own character, with plenty of green space and themes ranging from ‘genteel ladies’ to ‘tough guys’ according to the architects, Soeters Van Eldonk. There is room for approximately 2,700 homes: 20 per cent as social housing and the rest for rent or sale. Houthavens has been designated as a 100 per cent carbon neutral district, and energy will be generated entirely from renewable sources. The project will be completed in 2020.

A €160 million plan to widen and submerge the A9 motorway that connects Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Schiphol Airport and Almere is about to give a new meaning to the word ‘sustainability’. It will be covered with a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly open green space that will also serve as a location for neighbourhood festivities. At a stroke, this cut-and-cover project will reduce noise and pollution levels from cars and create a more pleasant place to live and work. ‘We talk a lot about the quality of life in Amstelveen,’ says Jelle Westra, Amstelveen’s Programme Manager for Urban Development. ‘It’s recently been ranked among the best three cities to live in the Netherlands. People enjoy good incomes, crime is low and it’s a green city. This is a good example of how cooperation on a national and local level can improve the environment.’ RETAINING IDENTITY Haarlemmermeer is one of the largest municipalities in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, with a population of just over 140,000. It is strategically situated just 23 kilometres from Amsterdam in the commercial heartland of the Randstad conurbation, and is made up of 26 villages dotted across an area of 18,500 hectares. The municipality is home to Schiphol airport, which is only 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station. Many leading international corporations have established their European headquarters in Haarlemmermeer. It has become popular with both singles and families due to its prime location, low property and rental prices, good schools, and culture and leisure facilities. Jeroen van der Ven, Senior Manager of Foreign Investments for the City of Haarlemmermeer and amsterdam inbusiness, does not see urbanisation as a threat and welcomes the growing interest from home and abroad. ‘Each village has its own DNA and will always maintain its distinctiveness,’ he says. ‘We won’t lose our identity; our differences are complementary.’ EVERYBODY WINS In the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, quality of life is at the heart of densification. From 2019, all new buildings and homes in the area are required to be carbon and energy neutral. A focus on creating a sense of community and belonging will make neighbourhoods inspiring places to live. Towns and villages will have fast and reliable connections to elsewhere, yet will retain their identities. In order to ensure this holistic approach, cooperation between decision makers is essential. In the words of Lisette Van Doorn: ‘Forget about your ego and look at the bigger picture. If you get future urban development right, there will be no losers.’ <

Colleen Geske

How the Dutch work

They work hard but play harder The Dutch are known for their culture of part-time work. It’s not unusual in the Netherlands to work a reduced workweek, or work a full week condensed into four days. The Dutch, in fact, work the fewest total hours collectively of any other nation in the EU, yet manage to consistently top the productivity charts. But don’t be mistaken in thinking your new colleagues aren’t working as hard as you – they’re just experts in the art of timemanagement. The Dutch know how to work hard – and play even harder. Spring treat Each spring, all employees in the Netherlands are blessed with a special treat: a bonus eight per cent pay-out of their gross incomes, known as ‘holiday pay’. Most companies dish out this allowance just prior to the start of summer. So, once it drops into your account, hop on and find a way to make use of your extremely generous Dutch vacation days (20 days per year for every full-timer). ‘Daddy day’ A strictly Dutch phenomenon, papadag is an informal term for a designated day that Dutch fathers care for their kids during the week. According to national statistics, over a third of men in the Netherlands enjoy a reduced work week, including some 15 per cent of fathers.

And in a recent poll, 66 per cent of young Dutch men said they planned to downscale their working hours when they became a father, so this is clearly no passing trend. For the love of meetings In the workforce and political arena, the Dutch are known for their consensus-driven decisionmaking. Nicknamed the polder model, the Dutch are big into letting everyone have their say. This makes for a very democratic and inclusive work culture, but also for some very long meetings, so be prepared to sit through a lot of Dutch-style discussions and debates. Pull out those agendas The Dutch have a propensity for planning, and when it comes to the working world the name of the game is: schedule, schedule, schedule. When living in the Netherlands you need to get used to checking your (digital) agenda. Be prepared for what some would call a ‘serious lack of spontaneity’, but it’s definitely a fair trade for a lot more free time. Beer, bitterballen and borrels Have no fear, the Dutch workplace also involves a fair amount of fun.You can count on plenty of after-work social activities. Borrel is the Dutch word for an informal social gathering (outside of the office). Most borrels include drinks (beer) and snacks (bitterballen). It’s been said that the Dutch love a good excuse to host a borrel and the excuses tend to multiply as the days get warmer. Proost (Cheers)!

Going Dutch Colleen Geske is the blogger and bestselling author behind the brand Kðù™ ™* ùðt © H‰ÀÏ ³‰; ¬² ‰. Described as ‘blunt, provacative and wickedly funny’, her blog and books offer a satirical look at Dutch culture as seen through the eyes of an outsider. The Kðù™ ™* ùðt © H‰ÀÏ ³‰; ¬² ‰social community now numbers over 500,000 followers. Originally from Winnipeg, Canada, Geske has called Amsterdam home since 2004. When not writing, she is a communications and social media consultant. Ï ©ÀðÀ¡ ä\ Ï ©āîH¬· îJ \ ç

A strictly Dutch phenomenon, papadag is an informal term for a designated day that Dutch fathers care for their kids during the week 57 AMS

So, you’ve come to work in the Netherlands. The landscape is flat, the cheese is plentiful and the people are welcoming and honest. However, not everything is as straightforward as it seems. The Dutch, you see, have a pretty unique work culture. One which can leave many a newcomer scratching their heads. So, here’s a handy little ‘cheat-sheet’ to help you get to grips with the way they work.


Satarupa cooks mostly Indian food for family dinners, but when they go out, the family prefers Greek or Turkish cuisine. With some 180 nationalities represented in Amsterdam, ethnic food options abound.


The family bought their first home outside Almere’s centre last year, calling it an ‘affordable and favourable’ option. Interest rate deduction makes homeowning attractive, and Almere offers more for less while still being only 26 km east of Amsterdam.


The two-car family travels mostly by automobile. Excellent railway connections see them sometimes commuting by train, too. The ongoing expansion of the Schiphol–Amsterdam– Almere highway system benefits commuters and businesses alike.


Tanushka goes to karate and swimming lessons, Satarupa attends a local gym and the ‘idle’ Tapabrata is gearing up for badminton lessons at a local club. The familyfriendly annual India Cricket Day takes place in June.

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Tapabrata says benefits for internationals, such as the 30 per cent tax ruling, were encouragements when he thought about relocating. Highly-skilled migrants who meet certain criteria are entitled to this.

A DAY IN THE LIFE How internationals live in Amsterdam: Tapabrata Roy, Satarupa Bose Roy

Management and IT consultant Tapabrata Roy (40, not in the picture) first moved to the Netherlands from text Lauren Comiteau Calcutta in 2007 photo Marijn Scheeres/Phenster for a six-month project with Dutch electronics company Philips. His wife Satarupa Bose Roy (37), an editor, writer and teacher, and their daughter Tanushka (8) followed shortly after. In the picture you see them, with Satarupa’s parents, Subhash and Chitrita. But like so many internationals who came to the Netherlands for short-term assignments, they stayed. After living in Utrecht and Eindhoven, they settled in the Amsterdam suburb of Almere six years ago. ‘For the international community, this is the best place to live,’ says Satarupa. ‘Fifty per cent of the people are native-English speakers, it’s a new, well-built city, and both Amsterdam and Schiphol airport are close by. I feel comfortable here.’

Satarupa enjoys taking Tanushka to the beaches of the Weerwater lake on the outskirts of town. They also peruse the ample Englishlanguage book section at the architecturally awardwinning new library. Almere scores high marks for its cutting-edge architecture.


Eight-year-old Tanushka attends Almere’s Letterland International Primary School. The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area has several international schools, including those specifically catering to British, Chinese, French and Japanese nationals.

As so-called knowledge migrants, Tapabrata says the support they receive – such as the 30 per cent tax ruling and mortgage relief – make the Netherlands an attractive home-away-from-home. ‘The Dutch know how to create business,’ he says. Although Tapabrata mostly drives to his Amersfoort office for his nine-hour shifts, and Satarupa takes her car to Den Helder to teach English to the Royal Navy a few days a week, they sometimes make use of the good public transport Almere offers and enjoy the city’s connectivity to the rest of Europe. As an editor of Indian expat magazine Indyana, Satarupa is tuned into Amsterdam’s 8,000-strong Indian community and its many happenings, including the annual Diwali Festival in Amstelveen. Her advice to other nationals thinking of joining Amsterdam’s community? Learn Dutch and the local culture. ‘It helps,’ she says. ‘You don’t have to eat boterham (sandwiches) everyday, but you need to integrate because that’s where you find the balance.’

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The country’s youngest city, a so-called ‘New Town’, Almere sits on land that was reclaimed from the Ijsselmeer lake, and its first house was built in 1976. Now home to 200,000 people and 13,000 businesses, Almere has proved especially popular with internationals.

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photo: Jordi Huisman

clockwise from top : New headoffice buggy specialist Joolz, Plastic Whale, Park 20/20 ANWB reizen exterieur, Hotel Zokuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rooftop subtropical greenhouses

photo: van der Torren Fotografie

photo: in-lite

photo: Sander van Torren


Amsterdam has taken up the circularity challenge, with heartening results. Loops are closing around the Metropolitan Area: from the lighting at Schiphol Airport and the design of ABN AMROâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Circular Pavilion; to the local recycling and reuse of plastic and goods.

Amsterdam: a circular hotspot

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text Catalina Iorga


‘Although the Westergasfabriek area was once an icon of a dirty energy past, it is now an icon of our green, clean energy future’

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The Waste Transformers As the pioneers of waste-to-value circular hubs for green energy production through the recovery and reuse of water and nutrients from organic waste, The Waste Transformers plan to scale up globally from their Amsterdam base. ‘We embedded entrepreneurship in our Business in a Box devel-opment programme for young entrepreneurs in emerging economies, so that we can help people provide clean energy and reduce waste in their own neighbourhoods,’ says founder and Managing Director Lara van Druten. Its flagship Amsterdam installation – there are others in Durban, Free-town and Hong Kong – consistently attracts delegations from all over the world, including a recent visit of 15 mayors from as many Latin American countries who would like to bring The Waste Transformers to their cities.

The Waste Transformers

As a testament to the power of Amsterdam’s collaborative spirit, the city’s contribution to transforming the Netherlands into a ‘circular hotspot’ has made its mark. Initiated by the Amsterdam-based Circle Economy platform, the initiative showcases the significant strides the Dutch capital has already made in the area of circular progress. CIRCULAR TRANSFORMATION An example of his Dutch circular success can be seen at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which has been collaborating with Philips Lighting on providing ‘light as a service’ in its terminal buildings. Philips owns and maintains the 3,700 highly energy-efficient LED installations in the terminals, while the airport simply pays for the light it uses. Or Park 20/20, the first business park to be created according to ‘cradle to cradle’ design principles with buildings that can be disassembled for recycling and reuse. And then there’s ABN AMRO’s Circular Pavilion, which opens this year in Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district. Located directly across from the bank’s headquarters, this easy-to-dismantle wood and glass pavilion is intended as an icon of the institution’s sustainable efforts. It will be an inspiring meeting place for clients and employees, as well as neighbours and visitors interested in the circular economy. Meanwhile, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area vision for a circular city has identified nine urban material streams, including for example construction waste and e-waste, that show immense potential for circular transformation. And in early 2017, the Amsterdam Economic Board and 179 companies, local authorities, knowledge institutions and civil society players co-signed a Raw Materials Agreement that aims to accelerate the city’s transition to a circular economy by closing loops in the food and biomass, plastics, manufacturing, construction and consumer goods sectors. CLOSING THE PLASTIC LOOP Plastic Whale is a social enterprise whose mission is to make the world’s waters plastic-free and to create value from the recovered waste, and whose approach is as circular as they come. ‘When I returned to Amsterdam after travelling around the world, I decided to do something to fight ‘plastic soup’, which is often portrayed as a faraway problem,’

TRANSFORMING ORGANIC WASTE Lara van Druten is the founder and Managing Director of The Waste Transformers, which has pioneered circular waste-to-value hubs for processing organic food waste. She is also no stranger to gaining the support of a large bank: ‘The Rabobank believed in us from the beginning. We started by showing that we had a good business case and that we wanted to make circularity – which is one of the bank’s core strategy pillars – very tangible.’ Four years ago, while working at a French sustainable energy corporate, the South African entrepreneur decided to start The Waste Transformers after witnessing a client’s struggle with the high operational costs and impact of food waste. She felt that Amsterdam was the perfect place to carry out her ambitions, and now calls herself ‘Dutch by choice’. ‘Although the Westergasfabriek area was once an icon of a dirty energy past, it is now an icon of our green, clean energy future,’ explains Van Druten. The Waste Transformers partnered with 12 restaurants, two theatres and several shops housed in this leafy cultural park, all of which now separate their food waste. This green garbage is picked up twice a day and it is brought to an on-site, fully self-sufficient processing installation that generates biogas energy. The energy is available to the clients of sustainable energy supplier Vandebron, and the recovered water and nutrients are used to fertilise the surrounding park’s lush grounds.

ABN AMRO’s Circular Pavilion As part of the joint commitment it made together with banking giants ING and Rabobank at the end of 2015, ABN AMRO wants to help companies transition to circular economic models. And the Circular Pavilion being inaugurated this year just across the road from its headquarters in Amsterdam’s business district will be a showcase for circular construction, an innovation laboratory and an inspiring meeting place. Cie. Architects masterminded the building’s open, airy design, which in-cludes a glass façade and a roof garden. Furthermore, the Pavilion is made entirely of recyclable or recovered materials, including wooden constructions that can be taken apart and reused and cement made from landfill waste.

architecture agency Rooflife, has a strong business background in consumer goods multinationals such as Unilever, joined GrownDownTown over a year ago, drawn by founder Philip van Traa’s infectious enthusiasm for protecting the city from climate change through urban green design. ‘I really wanted to have an impact and use my business knowledge for the good. And thanks to customers willing to put their trust in Philip’s vision, we have developed some amazing projects including a total greening of Hotel Zoku’s rooftop and awardwinning subtropical greenhouses for the headquarters of family products designer Joolz,’ she adds.

CLOSING THE ELECTRONICS LOOP Developing partnerships with businesses that support the circular economy has also been key in the growth of Closing the Loop, an award-winning company that has already collected over a million end-of-life mobile phones in emerging markets. It also offers solutions for the circular procurement and life cycle extension of mobile phones. ‘We want to make the whole electronics industry more circular, and show that electronic reuse and recycling make social and business sense,’ says founder Joost de Kluijver. By collecting scrap phones on behalf of Amsterdam-based corporates such as Ahold, ROOF FOOD Delta Lloyd and ING, Closing the Loop offsets the Amsterdam is committed to making the city climate footprint caused by each company’s telecommunications resilient and rainproof, as well as healthier and more policy. What’s more, the organisation recently launched liveable. Circular design also informs initiatives such as GrownDownTown, which develops advanced solutions for the Rethink programme in collaboration with Sims Recycling Solutions to ensure the proper repurposing of growing living and edible greenery on the city’s rooftops both retrieved phones and new ones that have reached and inside its buildings. ‘With our circular ‘Rooffood’ their end-of-life. ‘Although it’s not easy to make phones system, vegetable and herb crates can be placed on roofs, sustainable,’ says De Kluijver, ‘thanks to our joined on top of a special layer that retains rainwater and makes forces with the world’s largest electronics recycler and it available for crops to absorb as much of it as needed. partners like Fairphone, we will keep making our circular After harvest, the crates are reused in the nursery and proposition more accessible.’ < the leftover greenery is composted,’ explains Managing Director Hotske Wesselius. Wesselius, who recently merged his company with green

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says founder Marius Smit. ‘But what is floating around in oceans usually comes from our cities. So I wanted to start from my own backyard. In 2011, I published a social media challenge to build a plastic boat. Right off the bat, my network exploded. Designers, PR agencies and recyclers wanted to donate either their skills or money to get the project off the ground. It was great to see so many people using their individual talents to contribute,’ says Smit. ASN, the largest sustainable banking institution in the Netherlands, saw Plastic Whale’s potential and supported the company both financially and by communicating the cause on its online project and crowdfunding platform for innovative, eco-minded ideas. ‘Right now Plastic Whale has 8 boats made from plastic gathered from Amsterdam’s canals. These boats are used for ‘plastic fishing’ expeditions, which help further clean up our waters.


Cate Blanchett in Manifesto

photo: Julian Rosefelt

Holland Festival This leading performing arts festival is one of the biggest in the world, taking over Amsterdam every June with a month of cutting-edge productions and premieres from the world’s top talents in opera, classical and world music, theatre, dance, ballet, art and multimedia performance. 3-25 June 2017 / Various locations /

text Jayne Robinson

Amsterdam Dance Event

King’s Day

For five days every October, Amsterdam transforms into a global hub of electronic dance music. ADE sees the world’s biggest DJs, producers and industry professionals descend on the city to guide more than 200,000 clubbers through a programme of over 450 events, ranging from hedonistic raves to talks, debates and workshops. 18-22 October 2017 / Various locations /

You haven’t seen Amsterdam at its best and brightest until you’ve experienced the annual King’s Day festivities in the city. On King Willem-Alexander’s birthday, Amsterdam becomes an orange playground of parties and festivals, with thousands of boats in the canals, street markets and fun activities at every turn.

TNW Conference This immense European tech conference is hosted by The Next Web and brings together 15,000 leading tech entrepreneurs, developers, marketing managers, CEOs and policymakers for a twoday festival of business development, game-changing content and fun networking opportunities in the pleasant surroundings of Amsterdam’s Westerpark. May 2018 / Westerpark /

27 April 2018 / Citywide /




Pride Amsterdam


29 July 06 Aug.

Holland Festival

June 3-25


Until 17 Sept.

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IamExpat Fair

Open to everyone from media professionals to creative hobbyists, this bustling conference and exhibition brings together some 35,000 visitors with 22,000 exhibitors for a showcase of cutting-edge media technology amid endless networking opportunities.

Connecting and supporting the international community living in the Netherlands is what the IamExpat Fair is all about. Designed to bring together expats with local services and businesses, the annual fair hosts stands from companies and organisations specialising in housing, careers, education, expat services, health, leisure and family needs.

14-18 September 2017 / RAI Amsterdam /

March 2018 / Westergasfabriek /

ARTZUID International sculpture biennial ARTZUID returns in 2017, winding its way through the southern neighbourhoods of Amsterdam with a 2.5km outdoor sculpture route. This year’s event is curated by former Stedelijk Museum director Rudi Fuchs, and takes inspiration from the national theme of ‘Mondrian to Dutch Design – 100 Years of De Stijl’.

Pride Amsterdam Amsterdam’s annual celebration of LGBTI culture transforms the city into a rainbow of parties and events in what remains one of the biggest and best celebrations of its kind around the globe. A guaranteed highlight is the world-famous canal parade, held on the last Saturday of the festival.

19 May-17 September 2017 / Various locations in Amsterdam-Zuid /

Amsterdam Light Festival Now in its sixth year, this much-loved annual event transforms Amsterdam into an other-worldly landscape of illuminated art, brightening the dark winter nights with spectacular light sculptures from a range of international artists. The festival is best viewed by boat tour or special walking route. 30 November 2017-21 January 2018 / Various locations /

29 July-6 August 2017 / Various locations / /

Dutch Masters from the Hermitage This major exhibition at the Hermitage Amsterdam offers the chance to see Dutch masterpieces from the museum’s collection in St. Petersburg displayed in Europe for the first time. The exhibition features over 60 works by 50 Golden Age painters, including six important Rembrandts, back on home turf for eight months. For a complete guide to what’s on in Amsterdam, visit

7 October 2017-27 May 2018 / Hermitage Amsterdam /

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TNW Conference



King’s Day


March IamExpat Fair

Amsterdam Light Festival


30 Nov - 21 Jan 2018

Amsterdam Dance Event


7 Oct 27 May 2018


Dutch Masters from the Hermitage


Doing good for people and the planet

Social enterprises thrive in Amsterdam, due to the city’s history of entrepreneurship, its commitment to solving societal problems, and flourishing local and international talent. Now several key initiatives are bringing social entrepreneurs together in order to heighten their impact.

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text Catalina Iorga

House of Eléonore photo: Jasper Abels


A MAGNET FOR INTERNATIONAL AND LOCAL TALENT ‘The Netherlands was a natural next step after we established ourselves in Oslo,’ says Karen Dolva, co-founder and CEO of the Norwegian initiative No Isolation. ‘We needed a central European hub and Amsterdam seemed perfect. The fact that everyone speaks English helped a lot, as did the straightforward rules and regulations for establishing a private limited company,’. No Isolation has created the world’s first telepresence robot, which enables children and young adults with long-term illness to join school classes and stay in touch with friends. ‘The municipality was very welcoming, and we have already met several entities from the municipality of Amsterdam since our arrival,’ Dolva adds. Another company that felt immediately at home in the Dutch capital was the family-owned business African Clean Energy, which produces biomass-fuelled, high-tech cookstoves that enable smoke-free cooking and provide solar power in Sub-Saharan Africa. ‘People often ask us why we run our business from here instead of Lesotho, where we have our main operations and flagship factory. And part of the answer is that you need to be in the place that helps you best. Amsterdam is forwardthinking, inspiring and full of like-minded enterprises. And it has fast Internet, for when we need to Skype with our team in Uganda for instance,’ explains Director of Operations, Judith Joan Walker.

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‘Amsterdam is the place to be for social entrepreneurship,’ says Willemijn Verloop. Before co-founding Social Enterprise NL, a national membership body that connects and supports the growing Dutch social enterprise community, Verloop learned that ‘Amsterdam has a rich history of entrepreneurship and private initiative focused on people’s talents instead of their perceived disabilities.’ The feeling is shared by Tatiana Glad, co-founder and Director of Impact Hub Amsterdam – which is part of a mature entrepreneurial ecosystem of more than 15,000 social innovators in almost 90 cities worldwide. ‘Doing good business and improving society is part of Amsterdam’s DNA,’ she says. To ensure that innovative businesses continue to make Amsterdam a better place to live and work while getting more visibility and prominence, the Social Entrepreneurship Action Programme will help strengthen the collaboration between the city’s diverse impact players, including networking platforms, knowledge institutes, incubators, accelerators, corporates and investors. ‘We are excited to invite entrepreneurs to innovate with the city and to help tackle Amsterdam’s health challenges,’ says Ellen Oetelmans, the city’s public lead on social entrepreneurship. To that end, the municipality recently joined forces with Impact Hub Amsterdam to develop the Amsterdam City Fellowship, an accelerator running until December 2017 that aims to co-create and implement solutions to health-related urban challenges such as clean air and mobility.

‘It is my obligation to support sustainability and change, and to leave the planet in a better state’


Judith Walker and African Clean Energy African Clean Energy (ACE) was co-founded by father and son Stephen and Ruben Walker in 2011. Stephen’s daughter Judith joined the company in 2014 to lead operations and help launch ACE 1, a cookstove that provides solar power and ensures smoke-free cooking. Run from Amsterdam, ACE also has team members in Uganda, Cambodia and Lesotho, where their flagship factory is located. ‘Our ultimate mission is to unlock human potential, by stopping this waste of time, energy and money that occurs from mundane hours of gathering fuel, or chronic illness from inhaling cook smoke,’ says Walker. As winners of the Dutch edition of The Chivas Venture competition, ACE will pitch alongside 29 other social start-ups from as many countries in the competition’s grand finale in Los Angeles. The top prize is US$1 million in funding.

Warner Philips and Social Impact Ventures NL Warner Philips has nearly 20 years of experience as a cleantech entrepreneur and impact investor. In addition to serving on the board of nonprofits such as Empowered By Light and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, he is a partner and co-founder of Social Impact Ventures NL, which provides growth capital and hands-on support to Dutch social enterprises. Philips’s most recent investment is in the Amsterdam-bred Bomberbot, which plans to innovate education by helping schools teach programming concepts to children in a fun and accessible way. Other impact areas Philips wants to ‘deep dive’ into are elderly care, labour participation, plastic waste and circular fashion. ‘Before deciding to invest, I look at the team. A founder’s passion and drive are crucial to scaling impact with a commercial business model.’

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But it’s not just young entrepreneurs from abroad that make up the city’s impact talent pool. Budding changemakers can enrol in the Social Entrepreneurship Honours course developed by the Amsterdam Business School at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in collaboration with multiple partners such as the Vrije Universiteit (VU) and ENACTUS, an international not-for-profit that invests in students who improve the world through entrepreneurial action. ‘As a city university, our mission includes contributing to Amsterdam and its communities,’ says Dr. Machiel Keestra, Assistant Professor at the UvA’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. Keestra is also one of the coordinators of the course, which includes developing a social enterprise business plan and engaging in a minimum of 80 hours of community service. ‘Students in Amsterdam are usually well aware of sustainability and social issues, and become more motivated when they apply their academic skills to advancing social causes,’ Keestra says. And that motivation brings results, as shown for example by a recent assignment in which students advised the Amsterdam electric taxi company Taxi Electric how to improve the lives of their drivers, many of whom had not worked in years. THE PERFECT PLACE FOR SCALING IMPACT ‘Taxi Electric is about changing mindsets: showing that you can get people off the couch and into car seats while offering a great customer experience and competing in a not-so-social industry,’ says Warner Philips, a partner at Social Impact Ventures NL whose first investment was Taxi Electric. ‘When I moved back from the US two years ago I felt I could contribute by investing in social enterprises with healthy business cases, in order to prove that positive impact can go hand-inhand with financial returns,’ explains Philips, who has nearly 20 years of experience as an international cleantech entrepreneur and impact investor. ‘We found that many of the entrepreneurs we want to support are based in Amsterdam, which has always been a great centre of entrepreneurship.’ House of Eléonore is a social enterprise that recently won the 2017 edition of Impact Hub Amsterdam’s Investment Ready accelerator programme with its luxury jewellery made from laboratory-created diamonds and 18k FairTrade gold. ‘Amsterdam is the only place we could have done this, as the roots of our industry are here,’ says its co-founder, Bernd Damme. ‘We really want to lead the transition from natural diamonds to conflict-free, laboratory-created diamonds, and bring production back to Amsterdam, which was the capital of diamonds before World War II.’ Thanks to backing from established players such as the Royal Asscher Diamond Company, an upcoming new office and production centre at the heart of Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter, and ambitious plans to expand to the US market, Damme is well on his way to fulfilling his personal mission: ‘It is my obligation to support sustainability and change, and to leave the planet in a better state.’ <

clockwise from top left: African Clean Energy, Taxi Electric, Coding for kids Bomberbot, House of ElĂŠonore photo: Jasper Abels

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photo: taxi electric


Driving Africaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s solar revolution 70 AMS

After a long search for their dream headquarters in cities around the world, the groundbreaking Off Grid Electric company that is bringing solar power to underserved communities in Africa has chosen to settle in Amsterdam. Text Douglas Heingartner Photography Mark Horn/Phenster

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‘Immigration was probably the most important factor for us because we were bringing in people from all over the world’

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Financial Inclusion In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 34% of the population have a financial account, leaving the majority of Off Grid Electric’s potential customers unbanked. By collecting payments via mobile money, the company is signing up customers for their first formal financial service and giving them a tangible reason for regular use. Payment history collected through their software accumulates a credit profile for customers, which can help unlock access to other financial services as well. Rural mobile money agent liquidity is also improved by customers ‘topping-up’ their mobile accounts in frontier areas instead of cashing out.

In the sunny lounge area of business incubator TQ in Amsterdam, entrepreneur Xavier Helgesen discusses why his company Off Grid Electric chose this new space. ‘There’s great energy in this building,’ he says. ‘We didn’t want the hassle of trying to find a perfect office for three months and then signing a long-term lease. We just wanted to get into the space and get to work.’ And that is exactly what they did. Helgesen and two colleagues founded Off Grid Electric in Tanzania in 2012, with the vision of making solar power accessible and affordable to the mass markets in Africa. There are currently about 150 million homes in Africa without electricity, and many of them rely on dangerous and toxic kerosene for their lighting needs. But Off Grid Electric is working to change that: its plug-andplay solar system eliminates the need for fixed subscriptions, meters and wiring, and takes advantage of the fact that more people in Africa have mobile phones than access to electricity. Off Grid Electric’s mobile micropayment platform allows customers to purchase tiny amounts of solar energy as needed: enough to power the lights, or charge a phone or television. Users can pay as they go for solar power even without a credit card or bank account – the same way they might top up their phone minutes – for less than what they were spending on kerosene. ‘The idea was to take all the risk out of adopting solar for people without electricity. We want to mass market solar so that it is as common as Coca-Cola,’ says Helgesen. HEAD OFFICE IN AMSTERDAM In addition to its recently-opened head office in Amsterdam, the company also employs about 25 people in its San Francisco office and about 500 more worldwide. Off Grid Electric is growing fast; it now provides electricity to more than 100,000 households (about 500,000 people) in Tanzania, Rwanda and the Ivory Coast, with plans to add two more countries this year. ‘As we grew to five and then ten and then 20 countries, we found it very important to have a group head office location from which we could easily access countries in East and West Africa,’ says Helgesen, who began his career co-founding Better World Books, an online distributor of secondhand textbooks for countries in the developing world. The Amsterdam office fulfils the functions that are not done in the individual country offices; for example the heads of commercial, human resources and accounting are located here. As CEO, Helgesen will also be based in the Dutch capital. ‘I just got an apartment on a canal. I’m very happy to be here.’

Off Grid Electric decided upon Amsterdam after weighing many crucial factors. The team had often travelled through Amsterdam en route to Africa from San Francisco. ‘KLM has long been our main connection to Tanzania,’ Helgesen says ‘You can fly one-stop to Kilimanjaro Airport from San Francisco.’

AMSTERDAM: THE SAFE CHOICE FOR GROWTH ‘It was between London and Amsterdam in the end,’ says Helgesen. ‘I know the UK well, having studied at Oxford, but there’s too much risk now with Brexit. Europeans living in the UK don’t know if they’re going to be allowed to stay. We needed access to the full pool of European talent. And frankly, the culture of Amsterdam is more alligned with our entrepreneurial Silicon Valley culture. I think that, deep down, everybody wanted Amsterdam to win. And in the end it did, on the full package: Schiphol, immigration, incentives, talent pool, quality of life, schools and more.’ The new office in the TQ space currently employs about five people, but that’s just the beginning. ‘We’ll hire a lot of people here,’ Helgesen says. ‘Over the next three years I expect to grow to 40 or 50 people, and maybe more if we grow faster than expected.’ <

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HELPFUL ADVICE There were many possible locations in the running. ‘Amsterdam was a favourite, but we also looked at African centres like Nairobi, Kigali and Dakar. And we looked at Dubai, London, Paris and even a few US cities,’ says Helgesen. ‘The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency and amsterdam inbusiness helped to make the case for Amsterdam. Their people in San Francisco came over the very next day after we called. They were very helpful; they walked us through all of the available support, as well as the competitive tax climate for internationals.’ The supple Dutch immigration laws played a role as well. ‘Immigration was probably the most important factor for us because we were bringing in people from all over the world: for example a South African head of HR, an Indian head of commercial, and a number of Americans. So we needed a quick immigration process that recognizes that business today is inherently global.’


AMS text Douglas Heingartner


Amsterdam ranks 3rd in the European Union when it comes to attracting new businesses and talent. This is based on factors such as research and development, cultural interaction, liveability, environment and accessibility. (Source: The Mori Memorial Foundation, Global Power City Index 2016)



The English proficiency levels of the Netherlandsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s workforce are the highest in the world, which means Amsterdam really is the ideal city for companies to set up their European headquarters. (Source: EF, English Proficiency Index for Companies Report 2016)


in sustainability in Cities in Motion Index (CIMI) of 90 key world cities.

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(Source: Forbes)

The Netherlands takes the top spot in the Global Intellectual Property Index, which gives a full, comparative assessment of the handling of IP in 43 regions across the globe. (Source: Taylor Wessing, Global Intellectual Property Index 2016)

52,000 The number of annual transfer flights from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, making it the 2nd largest hub airport in the world and solidifying the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s position as the gateway to Europe. (Source: ACI EUROPE Airport Industry Connectivity Report 2016)

Transparency The perceived level of public-sector corruption in the Netherlands is lower than in Germany, France and the UK. (Source: Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2016)

in work-life balance The Netherlands has the best work-life balance in the world, and its housing, education and skills, environmental quality and health status are well above average.

Odilo Girod / SaltyStock


Quality of life The high quality of Amsterdam’s living conditions surpasses those of Paris, London, Berlin and New York City.

(Source: OECD, Better Life Index 2016)

(Source: Mercer, Quality of Living Survey 2017)

for internationals

In 2016, Amsterdam received an fDi Strategy Award in the Expat Support category for the invaluable and comprehensive services of IN Amsterdam (formerly the Expatcenter), the city’s go-to service for international companies and employees. (Source:

AFFORDABLE HOUSING Nested’s Rental Affordability Index found that Amsterdam’s rental prices were more affordable than those of London, Zurich and Copenhagen. (Source: Nested, Rental Affordability Index 2017)

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Odilo Girod / SaltyStock



(Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, Safe Cities Index 2016)

High-flying aerospace sector Amsterdam’s aerospace industry is in the global Top 15 and is ranked in 4th place within the European Union.

HAPPINESS The Netherlands is the world’s 6th happiest country, based on factors such as social support, health, income, trust in government and freedom to make life decisions. (Source: United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, World Happiness Report 2017)

(Source: fDi, Aerospace Cities of the Future 2016/2017)

A global city of the future

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Amsterdam ranks 7th in fDi’s Global Cities of the Future – a study that analyses the competitiveness and attractiveness of the world’s cities and regions. (Source: fDi, Global Cities of the Future 2016/17)

3rd for start-ups




















(Source: ESI, Startup Heatmap Europe 2016)

Support for digital start-ups and scale-ups


Odilo Girod / SaltyStock


Thanks to its flourishing start-up ecosystem â&#x20AC;&#x201C; including accelerators and incubators, investors, universities, event organisers and co-working spaces â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Amsterdam is the 3rd most attractive city in Europe for start-ups.

10 (Source: Nesta, European Digital City Index 2016)

How Amsterdam scored on the Numbeo Cost of Living Index, which compares the cost of living of cities to that of New York. The ranking indicates that Amsterdam is a more cost-effective city to live in compared to London (81.63), Paris (83.20) and Dusseldorf (87.50). (Source: Numbeo, Cost of Living Index 2017)

Amsterdam is the best city in the world for millennials, according to the 2017 Millennial City Ranking by Nestpick. Amsterdam scores high marks for LGBTI-friendliness, its start-up ecosystem, transport, gender equality and Internet speed. (Source: Nestpick)

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#1 for millennials


3,000+ Number of foreign companies established in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. In 2016, the number grew by 157 new offices, which will have created 3312 new jobs in three year’s time. (Source: amsterdam inbusiness)


Second smartest European city Amsterdam has stepped up its pace to be a leading smart city. Amsterdam Smart City is a public private partnership focused on using the city as an urban laboratory for the use of open data, new mobility solutions and ultimately improved quality of life for all residents and visitors.

Amsterdam sits in 3rd place in IBM’s 2016 Global Location Trends report, which measures the latest patterns in corporatelocation selection and the successfulness of the world’s cities in attracting new business. (Source: IBM, Global Location Trends Annual Report 2016)

(Source: Fast Company 2017)

6th best in the world

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Information and communications tech The Global Information Technology Report, which measures the drivers of the global ICT revolution, found that the Netherlands’s networked readiness is the 6th best in the world. (Source: World Economic Forum, Global Information Technology Report 2016)


Attractive countries for talent Country Switzerland Denmark Belgium Sweden THE NETHERLANDS Finland Norway Austria Luxembourg Hong Kong (Source: IMD, World Talent Report 2016)

Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

COMPETITIVE AND SUSTAINABLE When it comes to sustainable urban development and competitiveness on the worldwide business stage, Amsterdam ranks 5th globally and 3rd in Europe.


connected country Measured by cross-border flows of trade, capital, information and people.

(Source: DHL, Global Connectedness Index 2016

Affordable for businesses The Netherlands has the 3rd lowest business costs in the world, making it a great place to relocate your company to or establish your start-up. (Source: KPMGâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Competitive Alternatives 2016)

More facts and ďŹ gures on

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Odilo Girod / SaltyStock

(Source: PwC, Cities of Opportunity 2016)


As the official foreign investment agency of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (AMA), amsterdam inbusiness assists foreign companies with the establishment and expansion of their activities in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. We offer practical advice and relevant information that is free, strictly confidential and with no hidden agenda. And our commitment doesn’t stop once companies have set up in the AMA, as we strive to build a longterm relationship and offer support in any phase of the company’s development.

Contact info amsterdam inbusiness is a co-operation between the city of Amsterdam, Almere, Amstelveen, and Haarlemmermeer. • Amsterdam +31 (0)20 254 5045 • Almere+31 (0)36 539 9487 • Amstelveen+31 (0)20 540 4423 • Haarlemmermeer+31 (0)23 567 6135

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Visiting address WTC Amsterdam I-tower, ground floor Strawinskylaan 1767 1077 XX Amsterdam Find out more @Iamsterdam Iamsterdam iamsterdam @iamsterdam

The NFIA (Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency) is an operational unit of the ministry of Economic Affairs. The NFIA helps and advises foreign companies on the establishment, rolling out and/or expansion of their international activities in the Netherlands. The NFIA does this by, amongst other things, rapidly providing foreign investors with confidential and free support, information and advice, and offering them direct access to a broad network of business partners, regional economic development organisations and government institutions. Furthermore, the NFIA focuses on the promotion of the Netherlands abroad as a country with an attractive investment and business climate, and it plays an active role in maintaining that.

Contact info +31 (0)88 602 1142

Visiting address NFIA HQ Prinses Beatrixlaan 2 2595 AL The Hague Find out more @nfiaholland Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency NFIAtube

Amsterdam Marketing is the city marketing organisation of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, presenting the region as a dynamic place to live and work, an attractive travel destination and an innovative business location. With its wide variety of venues and high-quality accommodation options, Amsterdam is a city of endless possibilities for meetings, conferences, conventions and trade fairs â&#x20AC;&#x201C; from major events to precision-planned board meetings. With dedicated tools such as the Venue and Service Finder, and numerous professional services to help organise your event, Amsterdam Marketing can help guide you through your planning process.

International Newcomers Amsterdam (IN Amsterdam) provides a one-stop-shop service for international companies and their highly-skilled migrant employees, scientific researchers, international entrepreneurs and international graduates. IN Amsterdam helps this talent with residence- and work-permits (including the start-up visa), registration with the municipality, the 30 per cent tax ruling, and many other official matters. The IN Amsterdam website contains a wealth of essential information for internationals living, working and/or studying in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.

Contact info +31(0)207026100 Visiting address De Ruyterkade 5 1013 AA Amsterdam Find out more @Iamsterdam Amsterdam Economic Board Amsterdam Economic Board JOB SEARCH TOOL: VENUE FINDER TOOL: business/meetings/plan-your-event/venuefinder


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Contact info

Visiting address WTC Amsterdam I-tower, ground floor Strawinskylaan 1767 1077 XX Amsterdam


The Amsterdam Economic Board works with businesses, local governments and knowledge institutes to sustainably enhance the prosperity and well-being of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. By focusing on collaboration, innovation and growth, they create solutions for five urban challenges – Circular Economy, Digital Connectivity, Health, Mobility, and Jobs of the Future – that will ultimately contribute to the liveability of the Amsterdam region and secure a position among Europe’s top three innovative regions by 2025.

Aiming to help social entrepreneurs find their way, Amsterdam Impact is a guide to accelerators, incubators, events, investors and more. We connect for impact!

Contact info Find out more @AmsterdamImpact

Amsterdam Trade promotes the interests of Dutch SMEs by opening doors for Dutch trade and industry abroad and supplementing the existing support provided by organisations such as amsterdam inbusiness, StartupAmsterdam and the Amsterdam Economic Board. Acting as a neutral partner, the organisation’s work is especially helpful when it comes to generating status and momentum during international visits.

Contact info +31 (0)20 524 1120

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Visiting address Jodenbreestraat 25 1011 NH Amsterdam Find out more @AmEcBoard Amsterdam Economic Board Amsterdam Economic Board

Contact info +31 (0) 651505812 Visiting address Jodenbreestraat 25 1011 NH Amsterdam Find out more @Iamsterdam

Amsterdam is a hyper-connected hub for start-ups in the European tech scene. To realise its full potential, the city launched StartupAmsterdam, a public/private action programme that aims to grow and improve the start-up environment in Amsterdam. Working together with the start-up ecosystem and utilising assets that are already in place, StartupAmsterdam kick-starts multiple projects and nurtures start-ups to enable them to reach their full potential.

Amsterdam Smart City is the innovation network for a future-proof and liveable city. ASC challenges businesses, citizens, the municipality and knowledge institutions to submit and apply innovative ideas & solutions for urban issues. Visit our website to find out all about the innovative projects being executed in Amsterdam, the latest news on innovation, and questions that arise in the network. As a member, you can share posts and events in the news section, post requests, upload smart city projects, manage an organisation page and connect with a large network of Amsterdamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Smart City innovators.

Contact info Visiting address Jodenbreestraat 25 1011 NH Amsterdam Find out more @startup_adam StartupAmsterdam Amsterdam Startups StartupAmsterdam Startup Amsterdam

Contact info

STARTUPAMSTERDAM PROJECTS Startup in Residence: Corporate Network: Coding for Amsterdam: Scale:

Find out more @adamsmartcity AmsterdamSmartCity Amsterdam Smart City amsterdamsmartcity

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Profile for amsterdam&partners

Ams 7 2017-2018  

AMS magazine gives you the facts of doing business in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, but also the feelings. It gives a voice to the entrep...

Ams 7 2017-2018  

AMS magazine gives you the facts of doing business in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, but also the feelings. It gives a voice to the entrep...