By Floris van der Laan
Consulate General of the Netherlands in San Francisco

Phoenix, the anchor of the Valley of the Sun, seems worlds apart from the Netherlands. Whereas Arizona is characterized by its desert climate and being home to the Grand Canyon, the Netherlands is one of the flattest countries in the world and known for its rainy seasons.

Nevertheless, the Netherlands and Arizona share an innovative mindset and both are leaders in the fields of cybersecurity, deep tech, and life sciences and health.

“It may come as a surprise to many that Phoenix, Arizona, is currently the fifth largest city in the United States,” said Siebe van der Zee, Honorary Consul in Arizona. “Phoenix is also considered the fastest growing city in America. Growth and opportunity are the best ways to describe this dynamic marketplace. Located next to California (the fifth-largest economy in the world) and bordering Mexico, Phoenix offers an attractive soft-landing spot for Dutch companies who want to do business in California and the rest of the United States.”

With major tech companies willing to settle and new startups deciding to stick around, Phoenix has become attractive for both American and Dutch businesses. Finding common ground in tech and innovation, both the Netherlands and Arizona are exploring ways to partner up and exchange expertise.

Phoenix as a landing spot

Arizona exports almost $400 million to the Netherlands, and 8,000 jobs in Arizona are supported by trade with the Netherlands. More than 1,350 international companies from 52 countries call Phoenix home. In addition to that, more than 40 universities are in the Greater Phoenix Area, creating an unprecedented pipeline for young talent.

Arizona State University is a paragon for this academic profoundness and is considered one of the most innovative schools in the US. With the exchange of knowledge and expertise being key in the Dutch-Arizona relations, ASU and the University from Groningen have already built a strong partnership.

“Phoenix is the perfect landing spot for Dutch startups in the field of life sciences and health and deep tech,” said Consul General Gerbert Kunst. “The Netherlands and the Grand Canyon State are developing ecosystems that support creativity and entrepreneurship. Together, we focus on having a thriving pipeline of talent and a strong life sciences and health tech industry that drive our economies. We look more alike than you think, whilst we are thousands of miles apart.”

The Netherlands and Arizona also have a strong relationship in the area of defense. “For example, the Royal Dutch Air Force is training pilots on the F16 and on the F35 in Arizona, and the Netherlands was the first country to purchase Apache helicopters from Boeing in Arizona,” said Siebe van der Zee. “There is also a strong Dutch presence in the Arizona technology and semiconductor sectors. For several decades, Dutch companies like ASM International, NXP and ASML all have substantial investments and employees in the Phoenix area.”

To further strengthen this connection, the Consulate of the General of the Netherlands in San Francisco set up a Pop-Up Consulate in Phoenix.

Pop-Up Consulate in Phoenix

While in Phoenix, the consulate staff met with businesses and government leaders to discuss the ties between Arizona and the Netherlands. During this pop-up consulate, there were speed date meetings with the City of Phoenix and City of Tempe, linking Phoenix and Tempe goals with Dutch expertise. At the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council the economic ties were also highlighted.

In addition, the consular department opened a mobile passport station, at which Dutch citizens in the Greater Phoenix area have the opportunity to renew their passports.

“There are great opportunities to work together with Phoenix,” said Consul General Kunst. “Phoenix has created an ecosystem in which doing business is easy. I am looking forward to continuing our partnership, and the possibility of Phoenix businesses exploring the leap toward the Netherlands, the gateway to Europe.”

World Press Photo Phoenix

From January 7 through February 7, 2020, the World Press Photo Exhibition will be return to Downtown Phoenix. In the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, the World Press Photo Exhibition will connect the world to the stories that matter.

The World Press Photo Foundation is a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands, which connects the US audience to visual journalists and storytellers, promoting freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. By using intriguing pictures, the organization guides storytellers and audiences through a challenging landscape comprised of photographs.

For more information about the exhibition, please visit