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The province of Limburg has a strong manufacturing industry with a good reputation both inside and outside Europe. Manufacturing is one of the most important sectors in the regional economy and it employs a total workforce of around 40 000 people. A large number of companies in this sector are SMEs, and some of these operate as OEM (original equipment manufacturer) suppliers. The manufacturing industry in the region is faced with growing commoditisation and making good products is not just enough, it is a necessity! In order to keep the manufacturing industry competitive, the region is committed to the development of industrial business services to strengthen the added value of this industry in the long term.
So after the closing of the mines in the 70s, another transformation of the regional economy is now necessary. At the heart of this transformation will be added-value services based on advanced technology, smart products, and cutting-edge ICT. These are services in which the partners can learn from each other, instead of competing with each other. Further challenges are a cross-sectoral approach and cross-border cooperation with the Brabant region through Brainport 2020 ) and the North Rhine Westphalia region of Germany including the town of Aachen.
The transition from a high-tech manufacturing industry to industrial business services requires a different culture, a different innovation process and a different development cycle. The incubation of this transformation will be supported by the three campuses of Greenport Venlo, Chemelot and the Maastricht Health Campus. They are the development cores of knowledge-intensive innovations and provide contact points and sites for modern SMEs. The ambition of the region is to connect enterprises within the manufacturing industry in order to be able to collaborate in the field of new industrial business services. The campuses will play a key role in the sharing and distribution of knowledge and expertise in relation to services, and the realisation of a shared infrastructure including ICT facilities, networks and basic services.
However, making connections within the industry is not enough. It is essential that educational programmes are offered in this highly transformational knowledge area, which will then attract the right competences to the region. The region’s ambition is to deploy a series of interrelated policy instruments to set targets for the employment market, commercial enterprise and infrastructure.
“To strengthen the position of Limburg’s manufacturing industry in global competition, there has to be constant innovation in products. At the same time, new profit models have to be developed combining production with smart and intelligent services. The main issue these days is how to support this transformation? What instruments, activities and platforms can contribute to developing a smart and efficient setting of policies to support service innovation? We are ready to take the next steps. We would warmly welcome the input from the experts of the ESIC and are eager to exchange knowledge with other regions which are focusing the same questions.”
Regional Minister of Economic Affairs of the Province of Limburg
Regional case: The emerging ‘Digital Content Management’ Industry in the Province of Limburg
The Province of Limburg in the Netherlands boasts a new concentration of start-ups around office printing, documentation and information services led by Océ-Canon - a global manufacturer of printing and copying machines and related software services. Océ initiated the creation of a ‘Services Valley’ in the region, in 2011, in the belief that open innovation and the incubation of start-ups can provide the innovative solutions that customers need. The Services Valley is today a thriving open innovation centre that is jointly financed by Océ, the Province of Limburg and Rabobank Venlo.
The total area of the region: 2 209 km²
The size of the population: 1 121 891 (April 2013)
Regional GDP: € 35 460 000 000
Per Capita: € 31.59
The share of services in GDP: 68%
Dominant industries: (high tech) manufacturing, chemistry and agro-food
Emerging industries: life sciences and health, materials and the bio-based economy
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (March 2013)
Share of Knowledge Workers in the Economically Active Population: 28% (2012)
Gross Expenditure on R&D per GDP: approximately 5%