Institutions of higher education in the metropolitan region Amsterdam must improve cooperation with industry. Only then the region can best reap the benefits of innovation in higher education. The region – which extends roughly from Amsterdam to Hilversum, Alkmaar and Almere – employs more than 1.2 million inhabitants and has a gross regional product of more than 61.5 billion euros per year.

The study shows that higher education is an important driver behind the prosperity of the metropolitan region, but there is insufficient exchange of knowledge between higher education and industry. Amsterdam has a great diversity of higher education and the quality of research is high. This position offers many opportunities for the competitiveness of the region. Yet the sound knowledge base translates insufficient in R;D investments in business. The regional investment in R;D is 1.6% of the gross regional product in 2000, about 10% below the national investment rate. The region is threatened to miss the boat when it comes to investing in the knowledge economy.

SEO Economic Research has analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the knowledge economy in the metropolitan region. The emphasis is on the climate for innovation, employment and the contribution of higher education to social, cultural and sustainable development. The main conclusion is that Amsterdam with his diverse background in all these areas has much to offer. The knowledge base is a lot of higher education and a relatively young workforce. This manifests itself in the strong growth in key sectors such as the life sciences and the creative industry that fits well with the cultural profile of Amsterdam.

The downside is that the metropolitan region has to keep in competition with other cities in the world. This puts pressure on the underside of the regional labor market in particular and creates the risk of a divided labor market with lower education (including many immigrants) losing out. This is a development that can put pressure on the social capital in the metropolitan area in the future. In addition, traffic jams and overwrought housing markets ensure that the higher educated increasingly settle outside the city. In time this may mean that employment will develop increasingly outside the city.

In short: the next few years there is a lot at stake. If the Amsterdam metropolitan area continues to play an international role, then more investment in R;D and entrepreneurship in education and research is a must. Regional players have to submit a joint innovation agenda. This requires leadership from regional authorities (including higher education) and the streamlining of the consultative bodies of the parties in the field of knowledge. But also the industry must become more proactive to meet the necessary knowledge for innovation. One of the main conclusions is that Amsterdam can not afford to waste talent. Effective regional education systems are necessary to give all young people a chance to move on to higher education, with an emphasis on talent from socially disadvantaged groups.

This study was commissioned by VU University Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam (UvA), Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA), INHolland, City of Amsterdam, ING and the Chamber of Commerce as a contribution from the Amsterdam area to the OECD program for strengthening the role of higher education in regional and urban development. The results of the self-evaluation are, commissioned by the OECD, reviewed by a committee of independent experts. The judgment of the committee will translate into OECD recommendations for improving the situation of higher education in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.