Amsterdam & Infrastructure

Amsterdam as a world class hub for a digital economy: Infrastructure/Location/People/Education

Amsterdam is positioned in four key ways as the location Nexus for European tech innovation: infrastructure, location, and access to densely clustered knowledge workers, who are highly educated.  It has the fastest Internet connectivity in Europe, and Europe’s best airport (Schiphol) and rail systems. 

Globally, the Netherlands boasts the world’s highest broadband Internet penetration rate with 40 subscriptions per 100 population, the second-highest percentage of computer ownership (92 percent of households), and third-highest percentage of individuals using the Internet (90.1 per- cent).  (World Economic Forum)

Globally, the Amsterdam region is a global leader in bandwidth provisioning and state of the art data centres.  During the first three quarters of 2011, almost 10,000 m2 of data centre capacity was being utilised in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. This figure gives Amsterdam a European market share of 33%, meaning it is outperforming other key cities such as Frankfurt, London and Paris.

The fact that the average internet speed is so high may be due to the high density of broadband internet connections in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. The Amsterdam Area has one of the world’s highest broadband concentrations. It also boasts the best possible digital foundation thanks to the presence of the Amsterdam Internet Exchange AMS-IX. This is the largest data transport hub in the world.

In CBRE's announcement, Amsterdam's success in the data centre sector is explained by the city's position as a connectivity hub. The Amsterdam Area is not only extremely well connected geographically but also digitally, thanks to innovative projects such as the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX). This is one of the world's largest digital exchange platforms and is renowned for its reliability, quality and low costs. (Source)

The following map depicts the densely concentrated deployment of ultra high bandwidth in the Amsterdam area, rivaling, if not exceeding that of Silicon Valley:

Amsterdam has the fastest internet connection in Europe (Akamai, State of the Internet, 2011)

With AMS-IX, the fact that Amsterdam is the most dense cabled regions in Europe and the trans Atlantic telecom cables coming in, Amsterdam can lay claim on being the most connected cities in Europe.  The Netherlands has the highest average internet connection speed in Europe[2] and the highest fixed broadband penetration in Europe[3]. For companies heavily relying on fast, accessible and reliable internet, Amsterdam is the place to be.


For reference, the following graphic depicts an overlay of the square miles in Silicon Valley,  on a polygon drawn around Amsterdam:

Note its overlay coincides almost perfectly with the proximity of high end gigabit data centers.  Further, a strong case could be made that the world class train system connecting Europe and The Netherlands could easily double or triple the area of the “Silicon polygon” at right, as access to the area is accelerated and has much less travel/commute friction than Silicon Valley.  This would then cut a swath down to the Brussels/Paris area, all the way east to Germany.


The availability of high quality engineers and innovators in the Amsterdam region is as follows:

The Netherlands features one of the most highly educated, multilingual, enterprising and motivated workforces in Europe: 40% of the workforce possess either a college or university degree, 80% speak English, the high number of entrepreneurs (ranked third in terms of number of entrepreneurs) and high motivation (the IMD World Competitiveness survey ranks the Dutch workforce second in the world in terms of motivation). These characteristics enable Dutch employees to successfully operate in companies in any industry throughout the world. (Source)

Quality of life

The Netherlands has a very high standard of living. The costs of living, housing, education and cultural activities are lower than in most Western-European countries. The population of the Netherlands is very diverse: Amsterdam is home to the highest number of different nationalities worldwide. To serve these nationalities the Netherlands has 33 primary and 23 secondary international schools. The Netherlands has various facilities for expat communities.

The high quality of life is also reflected in the number of museums; the Netherlands has the world’s highest density of museums and is home to world renowned museums as the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Mauritshuis in The Hague.


The availability of high quality engineers and innovators in the Amsterdam region is as follows:

ICT workforce in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area:

  1. 180 nationalities

  2. Multilingual: 80% speaks English, 90% speaks 2 languages or more

  3. 155.000 people work in the ICT sector (total workforce 780.000 people), larger region workforce is 1.1 million.

  4. Amsterdam appealing to foreign ICT talent: unrivaled quality of life, low cost of living, multicultural, open minded city2

  5. 30% tax ruling for knowledge workers allows 30% gross on salary tax free.

3 ICT/CI accelerator programs:

- Startupbootcamp Amsterdam: 60 startups in 3 years, started in 2012

- Rockstart: 60 startups in 3 years, started in 2012

- Founders Institute: 45 startups in 3 years, started in 2011


All have received > 400 applications per round, from 35 different countries


•        Amsterdam has a strong academic network structure

  1.        3 important players for public ICT research:

  2.         University of Amsterdam (UvA)

  3.         Vrije Universiteit (Free University, VU

  4.         Centre for Mathematics and Informatics (CWI)

•        UvA and VU: 370 ICT researchers and 35 jobs related (2007)

•        CWI: 97 researchers (2007)

  1.        SARA delivers mathematics capacity and R&D

  2.        cluster universities are excellent, Delft, Erasmus, etc.

Research & Development:

  1. •        Science Park

  2. Centre for scientific research, education and knowledge related business activities. The Science Park hosts organisations like NIKHEF, AMOLF, CWI, SARA, AMS-IX, Netherlight (world’s biggest fibre-optic hub) and 80 national and international companies (mainly science, especially life science and ICT related areas)

  3. •        Center for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI)

  4. With 160 researchers, CWI helps to provide a firm foundation for national and European Innovation. CWI cooperates closely with companies, universities and large technological institutes. CWI also manages the Benelux Office of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

  5. •        The National Supercomputer and Network Center (SARA)

  6. SARA supports research in the Netherlands with advanced ICT infrastructure, services and expertise. SARA provides services in the areas of computing, data storage, visualization, networking, cloud and e-Science

  7. •        The Institute for High Energy Physics and Particle Physics (NIKHEF)

  8. NIKHEF is an institute that carries out research in the area of (astro)particle physics. Research is practised in collision processes using large particle accelerators, including those of CERN near Geneva.

  9. •        The Institute of Informatics (the highest ranked computer science institute in the Netherlands)

  10. The Institute performs curiosity driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. Research concerns complex information systems at large, with a focus on data-driven computational and intelligent systems and with an emphasis on collaboration and interaction.

[1] Economist Intelligence Unit, 2010

[2] Akamai, 2011

[3] Digital Agenda Scoreboard, 2011

[4] Global Venture Capital and Private Equity Country Attractiveness Index, E&Y, 2011

Copyright 2010-2013 by Shamrock Ventures, B.V.  All Rights Reserved