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Need a home in the EU? Why the TopDutch region is a good place for Great British business

At the top of the Netherlands, in the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe, is an internationally-orientated business community made up of intertwined ecosystems focusing on green, digital and future industries. There’s no place like home, but the TopDutch region offers a soft landing for innovative companies looking for the best gateway to Europe.

One of the ports in the TopDutch region. Photo: Bas Meelker

It’s a challenging time for many companies across the world at the moment, but the added burden of Brexit to British firms active in the EU has led to reports in UK media of many companies being advised to set up shop on the mainland. Luckily, a mere hour’s flight away from home, in the TopDutch region, is a warm triple-helix community of multi-lingual, internationally-orientated business, government and research institutes, ready to welcome firms looking to springboard into the European market.

What is the TopDutch region?

TopDutch as an economic region is located at the top of the Netherlands, bringing together the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe. And on top of that, TopDutch also represents top ambitions, achievements, solutions and ‘capital’ positions in the game of solving global challenges. We’re home to 1.7 million people, and host many small and medium-sized businesses and intelligent start-ups, alongside large international companies such as Google, IBM and Shell.

Regional partnerships, integrated talent development and the expanding number of strategic international alliances are key to the region’s rapid transition to becoming the green and digital region of the future. With a commitment to developing future-proof economies, we are home to a wide array of green, digital and talented international businesses, and make large-scale investments in green energy, green chemistry, smart factories and materials, AI and new technologies.

Your gateway to Europe

The TopDutch region has a rich history of international trading, which led to the healthy, stable and open economy we enjoy today. The Netherlands - including the TopDutch region - is a full member of the EU, which means all businesses registered here benefit from the international access and trade agreements that comes with EU membership.

Netherlands-based businesses enjoy direct access to the 500 million inhabitant EU market, unimpeded by geopolitical borders. Not just that, but there are also no barriers to employing citizens of any member state. We also have numerous trade agreements with countries from outside the EU, providing ease to our companies when doing business with the rest of the world.

Here in the Netherlands, we’re particularly efficient when it comes to customs processing of goods being imported into the EU. Our country has a number of speedy entry points, many of which are either within or very close to the TopDutch region.

The world’s most connected country

For six years on the trot, the Netherlands has been named DHL’s most logistically connected country in the world. The TopDutch region is nestled in the heart of our country’s world-class infrastructure of seaports, rails, roads, waterways, airports, as well as some of the most important trade routes in Europe. Yet our peaceful countryside areas offer large greenfield locations, at a relatively competitive cost in the otherwise densely-populated Netherlands.

In the TopDutch region, you’ll gain direct access to major logistics centres such as the best cargo airport in the world, Schiphol Airport, the port of Rotterdam, as well as the local Groningen Seaports, Port of Harlingen and Groningen Airport Eelde.

No Dutch? No problem

British businesses locating in the Netherlands have the advantage of a population with 90% fluency in English. Because Dutch is not widely spoken internationally, Dutch children start learning different languages in school from a very young age. The Netherlands has the world’s second most proficient non-native English speakers among non-English-speaking countries.

Regulators accept English documentation and disputes are settled in the English-speaking Netherlands Commercial Court. Many courses at our universities of the University of Groningen and the Hanze and NHL Stenden Universities of Applied Sciences are taught entirely in English, meaning a large proportion of the workforce have complete professional proficiency in English. The culture of multilingualism also means many TopDutch’ers speak other European languages including German, French and Spanish.

The easiest place to do business

The TopDutch region has a no-nonsense attitude to business development. We pride ourselves in consistently offering the fastest business development in Europe, including: Only four days to register your business, one week to open bank accounts and insurance, and two weeks to release your VAT Number. And companies who need to establish their own facilities require only 17 to 26 weeks from application to the start of construction - a process that takes more than 25 weeks in Spain, 40 weeks in the Czech Republic and 30 weeks in Hungary.

The Netherlands is one of the most competitive countries in the world in terms of tax structures. TopDutch businesses benefit from competitive corporate income tax rates, a wide tax treaty network and a number of attractive incentive programs, including special provisions for highly skilled expatriate workers. If you need to relocate workers, we provide sizeable tax breaks for expats and companies who wish to reimburse international school fees, relocation expenses and moving allowances.

Does our can-do mentality and pro-business attitude sound like your cup-of-tea? We offer a dedicated team of industry experts who are here to support international companies thinking about setting up a subsidiary in the TopDutch region. Feel free to reach out to our advisors for anything from questions about finance, funding opportunities, customs regulations, all the way up to scouting possible locations and starting operations. We’re here to help!

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