• Hypermotion

Cities of Innovation: Rotterdam

Additional information

ICT Infrastructure

Rotterdam lies in the centre of major European, transatlantic and broadband connections. Internet traffic from other major datahubs such as London, Brussels, Paris and Frankfurt passes through the low latency network in Rotterdam. In addition to continental European cable infrastructure, Rotterdam is also directly connected with North America through sea cables. As a digital hub Rotterdam also has its own internet exchange (R-iX) and various data-centres in the region.


The data-centres in the Rotterdam region are medium- sized. Data-centre operators include: British Telecom, I3DNet, SmartDC and Verizon.


The city is investing in fiberglass internet infrastructure upgrades for both residential and commercial (SME) users.


The City of Rotterdam has embraced IoT technology (LoRaWAN) in smart infrastructure projects across the city (from traffic management to air quality measurement). The Rotterdam IoT network (TTN010) is part of the international Things Network community.

Local, national and international transport links

The Rotterdam region has excellent infrastructure with great social connectivity through roads, railways, inland waterways, airports and seaport .


Rotterdam The Hague Airport connects Rotterdam with 40 destinations across Europe. Trains from Rotterdam Central Station reach Antwerp in 30 minutes, Brussels Midi in 1 hour 11 minutes, Frankfurt HBF in 4 hours 35 minutes, Paris Gare du Nord in 2 hours 36 minutes, and London St Pancras in 3 hours and 1 minute.


Rotterdam has an extensive network of separated bike lanes. The public transit system is further complemented by the availability of sharing services for cars (Greenwheels and Amber), e-scooters (Felyx), e-bikes (Gobike) and bikes (OV fiets, Donkey Republic, BimBimBikes).

University links and access to talent

Delft University of Technology is ranked 52nd in the QS ranking. Delft’s Erasmus MC, its medical centre, is the largest health sciences research institute in the Netherlands.


Collaborations between entrepreneurship clusters and education centre programmes includes:

Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (ECE) – part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam – is the leading centre for entrepreneurship in Europe.

Erasmus MC Technology Transfer Office – promotes the valorisation of knowledge and inventions of Erasmus MC.

— Erasmus MC Incubator is the lab and office facility of Erasmus MC where startups will be able to develop rapidly in a business- friendly environment through affordable lab and office space, advice, coaching and access to a network of professionals.

Yes!Delft is the business incubator of the Delft University of Technology and aimed at complex tech startups.

Rotterdam100 is a leading case competition in which the most talented students and young professionals from the Netherlands work with top companies in order to create innovative solutions, focused on the Next Economy challenges.

RDM Rotterdam is home to a range of exciting private-sector, education and research initiatives and here they work on a range of innovations that will contribute to a smarter port.

PlantOne is a fieldlab where companies and research institutions can test their innovative ideas for (more) sustainable technology and produce them on a commercial scale.

SmartPort initiates, stimulates and finances scientific research for and by the companies in the port of Rotterdam in collaboration with knowledge institutes and with the aim to change Rotterdam into the smartest port.

PortXL is a B2B maritime accelerator and aims to create tangible business value for maritime startups.


There is a highly productive and multilingual workforce (93% speak English), with 42.1% working in the tertiary sector and 28.3% in the quaternary sector.


Key employment sectors are: medical (13.6%); maritime (13.1%); and knowledge-based services (11.8%).

Costs and availability of workspace

An average rent is €140 m2/year. One of the strategies for workspaces is to focus on experimentation in new designs for climate change and sustainability.


Innovation centres and workspaces include:
Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC)
Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (ECE) / Rotterdam Science Tower

Het Industriegebouw (HIG)

Van Nelle

City support for start-ups and SMEs

Rotterdam has a strong entrepreneurial climate with a focus on themes including sustainability and circularity, new economy and becoming a smart city.


A network of local government contacts, the Port of Rotterdam companies, knowledge institutions, service providers and financers work actively together in Rotterdam’s innovation ecosystem to develop new products, technologies and services that will bring the Rotterdam economy forward.


The Rotterdam Innovation Ecosystem map provides an overview of how each organisation contributes to the acceleration of innovative companies in the region.

Financial support and access to investors & accelerators

Two municipal initiatives which financially support startups are:


— The GetFunded010 initiative which was launched by the City of Rotterdam to help local businesses win grants from the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument programme. Professional consultants and experts help SMEs to write an SME Instrument proposal.

CityLab010 is a platform, initiated by the municipality of Rotterdam, where people and entrepreneurs with a plan to improve the city can find each other. The municipality of Rotterdam also offers access to its network and funding via this platform.


Seven key accelerators are: Scaleup Delta; Angel Academy; ECE via Get in the Ring; Venture Café ; Port XL; iTanks; InnovationQuarter UNIIQ; and big companies have their own accelerators such as KPN, Eneco, Houthoff Buruma and Deloitte.