A new analytical report shows that the Dutch capital is at the top of its game as a science city while maintaining a strong focus on social issues.
In collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam), Elsevier investigated the state of science, technology and innovation in Amsterdam compared to other Dutch and European cities. The outcome is a unique analysis titled Understanding Amsterdam's Competitive Advantage, released on August 26; it is a follow-up to a report from 2015.
The new report presents updated data while shedding light on Europe’s changing research landscape.
Amsterdam has benefited greatly in recent years from Brexit and the associated relocation of highly skilled workers, companies and institutions, including the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to the city. Prof Dr Mirjam van Praag, President of the Executive Board of VU Amsterdam, said the report will be a valuable asset for strategic planning. "The data in this report are extremely valuable for the city of Amsterdam and our university. It is crucial to be able to support our strategy with data. The figures presented here fill me with pride: as a city we are on the right track".
Here are some key findings of the report, along with responses from leading Amsterdam-based stakeholders.
Large research output, strong international orientation
Amsterdam's research output, measured by the number of scientific publications, is large. But Amsterdam scientists not only publish a lot — they also have a significant impact. Amsterdam research is relatively widely cited by other scientists, with figures comparable to scientific powerhouses like Cambridge and Copenhagen.
Medicine and life sciences are the dominant research areas within Amsterdam science, both with strong global reputations, but information science and AI research are growing fast.
There is a lot of international collaboration in Amsterdam science, more than three times the European average. Almost 60% of Amsterdam research has an international co-author.
Top-notch AI research
In the field of artificial intelligence, Amsterdam science is of very high quality. Amsterdam AI research has tripled in recent years in terms of the number of articles published. In addition, this type of research has a great impact on other scientists — it is cited on average twice as often as the global average.
Strong knowledge transfer but innovation growth potential
7% of Amsterdam's research comes about through collaboration between universities and private corporations. This research also has a high impact, measured in the number of citations by other scientists - twice the EU 28 average and as much as four times the global average.
Between 2014 and 2020, more than 10 000 patents were filed in Amsterdam. Although this puts the city's patent activity in second place nationally after Eindhoven, its performance is only average compared to other European research hubs.
Dr Nina Tellegen, Executive Director of the Amsterdam Economic Board — a network of businesses, educational institutions and government agencies — says there is also room for improvement. "The report is very positive for Amsterdam. It makes clear that we score extremely well on research output and impact. However, it also shows that we need to work harder on patents and public-private partnerships, areas where our scores are still average."
Amsterdam is a global leader in research aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the areas of Good Health and Well-being, Gender Equality and Climate Action. Amsterdam's scientific achievements are something to be proud of. The city has a unique combination of output and social commitment: it is not for nothing that Amsterdam was the first to embrace the SDGs in its research and innovation programs. The city is well placed to reinforce its position as a thriving, inclusive and innovative hub in Europe.
This article was first published on August 26 by Elsevier.