The space industry in the Netherlands is slowly evolving to be one of the pillars of the Dutch high tech sector. From humble beginnings several decades ago, it is now a major contributor to the European space sector.
Most people are familiar with ESA-ESTEC, the technical heart of the European Space Agency in Noordwijk, but less known to most, there are over 200 more space companies, space research institutes, government departments, and other contributors active in the Netherlands in 2022!
State of the Dutch space industry in 2018
In 2020 the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate commissioned a report on the state of the space industry in the Netherlands. This report estimated that the Dutch space sector provided 10,500 full-time jobs, creating 1.9 billion euro in production value, while adding 1 billion euro of value to the Dutch economy in 2018. These numbers are significantly higher than found in a similar study in 2014, caused by growth of existing organisations, plus a significant number of new space organisations. The 2018 report included 145 space organisations.
Role of space in the Dutch economy
The first chapter of the 2018 space industry report highlights the role of the space sector in Dutch society: “As a society we increasingly rely on space technology and its applications. The dependence on satellite communication, satellite navigation and earth observation is immense. Satellite communication is essential in places on Earth where terrestrial networks are lacking. Satellite navigation is now part of many consumer electronics and also numerous professional applications, where place and time matter.
Earth observation shows a wide range of applications. Think, for example, of precision agriculture, defence applications, detection of environmental crime and monitoring of compliance with international agreements such as the Paris climate agreement. Insights into the spread of diseases, soil moisture, or monitoring the subsidence of infrastructure and buildings are also relevant applications. The quality of a critical service such as the weather forecast is also continuously getting better due to the increasingly intensive use of satellites.”
Defining the space industry
Defining the space industry as a stand-alone sector of society is not straightforward. The sector stretches from the development and operation of launchers and satellites, and supply chain of all embedded components and subsystems (upstream) to capturing of space data by ground stations and the processing and dissemination of this data into useable information (downstream).
In addition, there is another layer of ‘space-enabled’ services and applications, as well as space-related education, consultancy, NGOs and government services. Some of these services are directly related to space or space data, but others have a big overlap with other sectors, like satellite television, precision agriculture, financial services and many others. The boundary of where the space industry ends and other industries begin is often not clear. This makes it increasingly difficult to map any sector of society. It also makes any attempt to create an accurate map practically impossible and debatable by default.
Space is a fast growing industry
In a fast-growing industry, information becomes rapidly outdated. Even though the industry report published in 2020 gives a good overview of the (145) actors in the industry in 2018, the situation in 2022 looks much different already. Like in other tech sectors, new startups enter the domain almost weekly. With increasing emphasis on entrepreneurship and increasing access to space IP, technology and data, it has never been easier to start your own space company. This is supported further by the activities of the ESA Business Incubation Centre in Noordwijk, one of the longest running of the ESA BIC programmes in Europe.
The recent establishment of the NL Space Campus in Noordwijk is aimed at further supporting new companies to create a base in the Netherlands.
Map of the Dutch space industry 2022
Based on this fast growth of both the number of actors in the Dutch space sector, as well as the growing contribution of these actors to the Dutch and European economy, it is useful to have an accurate update of what the space industry looks like in 2022.
In January 2022 Groundstation.Space analysed the sector, following templates used in other countries, with the aim to map all three subsectors of the space industry in the Netherlands as accurately as possible. This analysis identifies 229 organisations that were active in the space domain at that point in time.
Earth Observation and Components make up half of the Dutch space sector
The 229 organisations mapped in the overview are active in three main sectors (upstream, downstream and other services), and 22 subsectors.
Looking at the number of organisations in each subcategory, we see that two of these make up almost half of the sector. There are 61 companies active in Earth Observation applications, while 37 companies supply components and subsystems.
Download your copy now
We want our analysis to benefit the Dutch space industry as much as possible, making it freely available as an A2-poster pdf download from our platform. Please download your personal copy from here now:
Help us keep this map up to date
As explained, an industry map like this won’t ever be 100% accurate. Inclusion depends on the definition of the industry, as well as the continuous coming and going, or mergers and acquisition of companies. We do not claim to always know all of these movements in the sector, or claim to have the one single definition of the sector. This map is biased and we know it.
Of course we appreciate your comments, additions, re-categorisations or removals from this list. If there are major issues we will re-publish the map, latest in the 2023 version next year. Thank you for your help!