In order to highlight the RTDI profile of Zuid-Holland, indicators related to research & development (R&D), high-tech employment and tertiary education are used. For instance, Zuid-Holland has a strong innovation potential because of its high business activity. The province is changing from a classic harbour area into a knowledge intensive area. The knowledge infrastructure and business services increasingly play a role in the development of innovation. Total R&D expenditures in 2017 were the highest of all provinces, totalling €3.1bn, which is 21.0 per cent of total national R&D expenditures in the same year and 2.66 per cent of their regional GDP (Eurostat, 2020). However, the province Noord-Brabant has surpassed Zuid-Holland’s figure in 2017, spending a total of €3.3bn on R&D.
The total number of people employed in high-technology sectors was 77,300 in 2018, which is again the second highest of all provinces, after Noord-Holland. The province has more scale-ups than any other region in the country, testifying to the attractive business climate in the region (Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship). The province is slightly above the national average (51.4 per cent) and considerably above EU average (41.6 per cent) when it comes to the number of people between 30 and 34 years old who completed some form of tertiary education, which is 51.6 per cent of people in Zuid-Holland (Eurostat, 2020). In 2018, Zuid-Holland had 3,908 PhD students, which is three times the Dutch average of 1,304 and equals 25.0 per cent of total PhD students in the Netherlands.
The province boasts various centres of knowledge and expertise, including three research universities in the cities Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam. In 2019, Leiden University had 30,869 students (bachelor and master) and 1,692 fte academic staff members. In 2019, it produced 6,438 scientific publications. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Leiden University is listed on the 67th place (2020), and on spot 118 of the QS World University Ranking. Delft University of Technology had 24,703 students in 2018 (bachelor and master) and 3,186 scientific staff members. In 2018, 5,999 scientific publications were produced by the university. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Delft University occupies the 67th place together with Leiden University, which is the highest place of all Dutch universities. At place 50, Delft University also is the highest ranked Dutch university according to the QS World University Rankings 2019. Erasmus University Rotterdam had 31,149 students (bachelor and master) in 2018 and 3,225 staff members, of which 1,654 academic. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Erasmus University Rotterdam is listed 69th. Furthermore, the Erasmus University Rotterdam ranked 183rd of the QS World University Ranking 2020.
Overall, 823,500 people in Zuid-Holland are working in science and technology. Recent years have seen increasing cooperation between the three universities, including the establishment of shared study programs, public-private consortiums and eight multidisciplinary centres (e.g. Centre for Education and Learning, Centre for Metropolis and Mainport, and others). In June 2019, the universities signed a renewed, six-year strategic Leiden-Delft-Erasmus (LDE) alliance (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, 2019). The triangle offers joint educational programs, performs multidisciplinary research and is involved in societal projects, with a specific focus on health technology, sustainability and security & safety. The region furthermore hosts several incubators, including Yes!Delft, which is connected to the Delft University and the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship. There are also various universities of applied sciences, such as the Haagse Hogeschool, Hogeschool Leiden, Hogeschool Rotterdam, Inholland, Codarts, Driestar, Da Vinci and the University of the Arts The Hague.
Non-university public research institutes in the region are e.g. the TNO research laboratories (Delft, Leiden), Estec (European Space research jn Noordwijkerhout) and UNESCO-IHE (Hydrology, Delft). There are also a number of private research centres including DSM Delft, Hardt Hyperloop, and a large number of smaller research intensive companies. Life Sciences is a specific strength of the universities of Leiden and Delft. The province is increasingly stimulating innovation through the use of real-life testing grounds, using field labs to let companies and organisations test out new innovations in an early stage.
InnovationQuarter is the regional development agency for Zuid-Holland. Different from the majority of regional development agencies, the shareholders of Innovation Quarter are not only the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, but also regional governments, knowledge institutes and medical centres. It provides funding for start-ups and SMEs in the sectors Cleantech, High Tech & Smart Industry, Safety & Security, Horticulture, Life Sciences & Health and Water & Maritime. Furthermore, it assists foreign investors who want to settle in the province and organises cooperation between innovative entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes and the government. Together with the Erasmus Medical Centre, Delft University and Leiden Univeristy, the InnovationQuarter founded UNIIQ, an investment fund of €22m, focused on stimulating investments in the proof-of-concept phase. The fund is supported under the European EFRO program.
Other important regional organisations are Medical Delta, a consortium of life sciences, health and technology partners in the Netherlands and Knowledge Alliance Rhine – Waal, a German – Dutch collaboration between different research and educational institutions from the Euregion Rhine – Waal.