By Sietze Vermeulen
Netherlands Consulate General in San Francisco

Arizona, with its widespread dry deserts and canyons, seems a far cry from flat and rainy Netherlands. Yet, they find common ground in tech, as both are leaders in the fields of photonics, cybersecurity, and life sciences.

The Netherlands is the most digital and innovative country in Europe, and Arizona is a hotbed for tech companies in America’s Southwest.

A Dutch delegation is visiting Arizona this week to explore possible collaborations. The Netherlands Consul General for the Western United States, Gerbert Kunst, will talk to businesses, universities and politicians in Phoenix and Tucson.

Arizona exports $400 million to the Netherlands, and 8,000 jobs in Arizona are the result of trade with the Netherlands.

“What’s interesting is what’s not there yet,” said Consul General Kunst. “Arizona and Holland are both booming in the same tech sectors. Photonics, life sciences and cyber security employ thousands of talented tech workers. For Dutch and Arizonan businesses that are looking for knowledge and skills, it’s attractive to partner up and work together. We are exploring ways to boost these partnerships and expand business.”

The Dutch Innovation Attaché, responsible for scouting opportunities for Dutch businesses and research facilities, including in the field of photonics, is also in the Dutch delegation.

More than 190 Arizona companies are active in the photonics industry, employing around 5,000 Arizonans. In the Netherlands, more than 160 businesses, research and education institutions are active players in this sector. Together, these businesses represent a worth of $2.3 billion, a number that is expected to grow.

Companies active in this market face a lack of skilled professionals, and therefore seek partnerships abroad to exchange knowledge and funds.

Defending against hackers

Hackers can live anywhere in the world, and the challenge of defending against these hackers is complex, as more needs to be done than just technical solutions. The Netherlands has become an exporter of cybersecurity.

With some of the most important companies on this topic of Dutch origin, the Netherlands is now world renowned for its expertise on digital resilience. Cybersecurity has long been a cornerstone of the Arizona economy, and to foster the developments in this industry, Arizona seeks to attract and retain new talents. Here lie a number opportunities to collaborate with Dutch businesses to seek partnership to exchange knowledge and skills.

The driving force of life sciences

Both the Netherlands and Arizona have a strong life sciences industry. Health tech has become a driving force in their economies, with developers of medical devices and digital health startups expanding. The life science industry thrives by skilled talent and exchange of knowledge.

“Arizona and the Netherlands might be worlds apart, but they connect over tech,” said Consul General Kunst. “Look at all the opportunities that lie here for Dutch and Arizonan businesses. And that’s why I’m here these days. To bring businesses together and work on future partnerships.”


The Dutch consulate in San Francisco helps entrepreneurs navigate their way in growing hot spots of innovation and high tech, and also offers assistance to Arizona businesses finding their way to the Netherlands. To learn more about what the Dutch can do for you, please email with the Netherlands Consulate General in San Francisco: