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Rotterdam Innovation District International hotspot for smart manufacturing Located just west of the city center of

center, a historic port area is becoming the very

Rotterdam and on opposite banks of the

next - complementary - location in Rotterdam with

river the Maas, a unique ecosystem around

great international appeal: the Rotterdam Innova-

smart manufacturing is rapidly emerging:

tion District.


the Rotterdam Innovation District. It is a hybrid zone between the exciting city cen-

November 2015 Stadshavens Rotterdam1 officially

ter of Rotterdam and Europe’s largest port,

launched the Rotterdam Innovation District (RID).

creating unprecedented synergies. Entre-

The RID is a large, raw area that is fully aligned with

preneurs start new businesses here on

the dynamics of the so-called Next Economy, which

a daily basis. They are attracted to the Rot-

is roughly defined as the transition from mass-pro-

terdam Innovation District by its simplified

duction to mass-specialization and from stable to

legislation for experiments, the refurbished

flexible. Within this Next Economy, manufacturing

monumental port industrial heritage and

increasingly returns to the city. This manufactu-

a variety of platforms that supports their

ring utilizes the possibilities the Internet offers: it

scaling-up and connects them to the regi-

is smart manufacturing. Sustainability is a prere-

onal innovation ecosystem. Well-connec-

quisite. It is also strongly aligned with the princi

ted over land, over water and of obviously

ples of the sharing economy. For example, stu-

What makes the RID unique from all other Innova-



dents, engineers and designers come together to

tion Districts in the world3 is that water is elementa-

is emerging with still plenty of room for

experiment with new materials and technologies to

ry; the RID embraces the river Maas. For example,

yuccies (young urban creatives) to break

make things in so-called makerspaces2 where they

high-speed water taxis and water buses connect

existing boundaries: You’re invited to Make

can share facilities such as 3D printers, scanners,

the RID and the rest of Rotterdam. The elemental

It Happen!

lasers and CNC-machines. Innovations in smart

importance of water for the RID is also expressed

manufacturing require substantially more interac-

by the continuing presence of the maritime indus-

Rotterdam is gaining momentum as the Nether-

tion and quicker learning curves than traditional

try, it will form a ‘hybrid’ zone between the city

lands’ most exciting city, alongside Amsterdam.

manufacturing. This is facilitated by co-location,

of Rotterdam and Europe’s largest port. Traditional

Upon the completion of architectural icons such as

creating an ecosystem over time. The RID is a pri-

port activities move away to make place for new

the renewed Central Station and food-walhalla de

or example of such an ecosystem, rapidly growing

port related smart manufacturing activities. As the

Markthal, The New York Times, the Rough Guide

and inviting more entrepreneurs to join.

maritime industry shifts towards digitalization of




and Lonely Planet identified Rotterdam as an inter-

logistics, the use of robotics, sensors, inspection

national must-see city. The city has also become

drones, new materials to build more sustainable

a magnet for entrepreneurial talent, underlined

quay walls or better ships, etc., a cross-pollination

by the recent establishment of the Boston-based

of the maritime industry and smart manufacturing

Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC). The area

creates unprecedented synergies. The strong pres-

A1 3

where CIC chose to locate, the Rotterdam Central District (RCD), has been successfully regenerated banks of the river the Maas, just west of the city

ence of the food, creative, clean-tech and medical industry in the RID creates even more possibilities TRO ME

and now acclaims metropolitan allure. On opposite

Rotterdam THE HAGUE airport

for cross-pollination.



Central district

TU DELFT Yes! Delft

Merwe-Vierhavens (M4H)






- SC






Innovation district


interaction between the two international hotspots through inclusive pro-


gramming, supported by CIC and ECE


Venture Café Rotterdam ensures the


Ambitions for the future development of the RID


are high. The city government and the port autho-

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 25 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 24 26 28 29 32 30 31

rity work together with a network of relevant stakeholders to support these ambitions. Three core visionary principles define their common vision on this future development, and are identified as the main strengths of the RID to build on further: •

Experiments - Simplified regulation combined with world class facilities will continue to attract creative entrepreneurs to experiment in a real-life environment, to chase the extraordinary and explore new territory. Regulation will not limit or hamper innovation and self-control


is actively promoted. Dedicated port basins will be made available for experiments with floating



factories, farms and houses.

34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48

C •

Space - The raw, unpolished and diverse at-


mosphere typical for former port areas will be cherished. More monumental industrial

50 51

52 53


heritage is refurbished for new businesses.

(Clean) Tech


The monumental buildings are contrasted with


Creative Financial serv.

state-of-the-art office buildings and experi-


mental housing, creating an interesting juxta-


position. Within the RID, it is mainly the south

Knowledge institute

bank of the Maas that provides ample space


for prototyping and research – most educa-


tional institutions are located here - whilst the much larger northern bank of the Maas provides entrepreneurs with the necessary space

01 Uit je Eigen Stad | 02 ECE | 03 Analyselab | 04 CleanTech Delta | 05 Declaree | 06 Dutch Domotics |

for full-scale production.

07 Erasmus MC Incubators | 08 LabHotel | 09 Omnigen | 10 Symbid | 11 Temporary Works Design | 12 TickID |

Platforms - A wide variety of companies,

20 Robot Printing | 21 S.T.R.S | 22 Susan Bijl | 23 Ultimaker | 24 Windchallenge | 25 Made in 4Havens |

13 Viroclinics | 14 Solid Shapes | 15 Designdock Rotterdam | 16 SuGu | 17 Carola Zee | 18 CEAD | 19 Refil |

research institutes and universities provide platforms for direct access to talent, money and ideas. Leading-edge multinationals such as Ampelmann, Continental Juice, Damen Shipyards,

26 Studio Roosegaarde | 27 De Voedseltuin | 28 Opticool | 29 Santas Koffie | 30 Spark design & innovation | 31 HIWA Cold stores | 32 Continental Juice | 33 Ampelmann | 34 Albeda College | 35 Damen | 36 EICB | 37 IHC Merwede | 38 RH Marine | 39 Innovatiecentrum Kunststoffen | 40 iTanks | 41 Jules Dock | 42 Public Domain Architecten | 43 RDM Centre of Expertise | 44 RDM Makerspace | 45 SkilledIn | 46 TU Delft (Robotics) | 47 Van Gansewinkel | 48 Zadkine (process technology) | 49 HR (automotive construction) | 50 HR (industrial

Studio Roosegaarde and Viroclinics connect to

product design) | 51 Energy Floors | 52 IC Duurzaam Bouwen | 53 Franklin Offshore | 54 RH Marine |

start-ups, incubators and accelerators. Innova-

55-59 Many more | Schiedam (selection) | A Huisman | B Damen | C Mammoet

tion platforms such as the Erasmus Center of Entrepreneurship and the regional overarching

The visionary principles translate to efforts

Venture Café empowers entrepreneurs from

enhancing the freedom to experiment, creating

the RID, catalyzes the development of new

more favorable meeting places and expanding

products and services and connects them to the

the inclusive programming, respectively. A large-

regional innovation ecosystem.

scale investment program for urban management, infrastructure improvements and public space enhancement will kick-start these efforts to transform the RID into an even more inspiring place to work and live. In 2025, the RID is bursting with knowledge in-


tensive innovative activities and one of the most

Simplified regulation,

prominent location for smart manufacturing in

promoting self-control

Space Deploying the archi-cultural heritage for future wealth

North-West Europe. Many of today’s businesses have scaled up activities and new business are still experimenting and innovating. Up to 2,500 residential units have been realized in the RID, creating a 24-hr buzz. The RID is physically more compact, fully (public) transit-accessible and tech-

Platforms Connected to the regional

nically-wired. Also, it is the most prominent area in the city for the World Expo 2025 in Rotterdam.

innovation ecosystem

1 Stadshavens Rotterdam is a cooperation between the City of Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam Authority and is responsible for the transformation of former port areas in Rotterdam in the coming 20 to 40 years. 2

The RID is home to three complementary makerspaces: SuGu, RDM Makerspace and Madein4Havens.

3 Innovation Districts are found in Boston, Barcelona, Stockholm, Medellin, Montreal and many more cities. Urban leaders in these respective cities use their Innovation Districts as impetus for their cities to attain a superstar status.

Join us! Together we can accelerate the Rotterdam Innovation District development. Please contact: Stadshavens Rotterdam, Lekstraat 14, Rotterdam,,

Factsheet Rotterdam Innovation District  
Factsheet Rotterdam Innovation District