The Story of Brabant

‘We live in a time of fundamental change, a time when even the changes are changing’

This quotation from ‘Het Nieuwste Brabant’, a voluminous and well-researched book about Brabant as it is today, characterises the region from an international perspective. And it is precisely within this environment of uncertainty and fluidity that Brabant operates at its best. Connecting. Pioneering. Entrepreneurial. Pleasure-loving. Achieving. In the past, now and in the future.

Brabant as a connecting force

Brabant connects: cities with the countryside, tradition with innovation, hard work with pleasure. And above all: people with each other. And we are pretty skilled at this. Jointly discussing things, welcoming new approaches and collaborating effectively: these are all part of our DNA here in Brabant. And we are not afraid to think outside the box. Because precisely this quality promotes creativity and unusual solutions. In Brabant, industry wholeheartedly backs ‘unconventional’ innovation. This is where top designers, world-class athletes and cultural leading lights settle and nurture talent from within the region. We have earned our place among the frontrunning technological regions in Europe, and Brabant is abuzz with start-ups, such as SMART Photonics, Protix and PeelPioneers. As an innovative breeding ground for talent, Brabant focuses strongly on finding solutions to future global problems. All these factors make this region a place where you find challenging and interesting work.

From all four corners

The fact that Brabant is a great place to live with good availability of housing attracts people from all four corners of the world. There is no crowding here and we have enough room for affordable homes, safe playgrounds and culture, ranging from small local theatres to major museums. And space for beautiful nature areas where you can relax and unwind. As you would expect of pleasure-loving Brabant, we also want to share our enjoyment of the finer things in life. There is nothing we like better than meeting up in cafés, restaurants and cultural hotspots. Regardless of where you come from, the hospitality of the people here envelops you and swirls you along on a wave of friendly southern warmth that is so typical of Brabant. An experience you won’t easily forget.

Pioneering Brabant

Brabant is booming and has earned itself a permanent place among the top innovation regions in Europe. The province’s favourable geographical location and the targeted collaborative approach adopted by local and provincial government, Brabant's education institutes and the business community offer many opportunities. For start-ups and investors. For leading companies and SMEs. For students and talented newcomers to the job market. From the Netherlands and elsewhere. Brabant is an incubator for talent; a place where smart minds and skilled hands work together on ground-breaking solutions for a circular economy. With considerable success. The rate of economic growth has been higher here than in the rest of the Netherlands for many years. And the eyes of the world have long been focused on Brabant as a powerhouse in the high tech, agri-food and chemical sectors.

Leader in agri-food

Modern technology is revolutionising the world of agri-food at lightning speed. Brabant has become a global leader due to its readiness to adapt. Circular bio-based growing techniques? Essential oils from citrus peel? Plastic recycling via pyrolysis? These are just some of the pioneering agri-food activities in Brabant. The region is full of energy, both figuratively and literally. And that literal energy comes increasingly from sustainable sources. For example, we are at the forefront of the green wave of e-mobility with the first solar-powered family car and our electric car policies. In the area of photonic chip development, we set the pace worldwide. We are a frontrunner in big data, hold a leading position in the European High Tech Systems and Materials sector (HTSM) and are one of the leading pioneers in smart and sustainable mobility. As a logistics hotspot, we are a strong global player. And the region is well on the way to becoming an internationally recognised medical technology cluster. A strong track record for a geographically small region!

Entrepreneurial Brabant

Brabant pools resources. The business climate in this region focuses on collaboration. On pioneering and getting things done. On sharing knowledge and innovating. These characteristics make Brabant the knowledge and innovation region par excellence. The triple helix approach originated in Brabant; effortless collaboration between businesses, local and provincial government and schools and universities. With all our cards on the table rather than held closely to our chests. Because we feel jointly responsible. For growth in the region and for each other. Our approach - having the courage of our convictions and working hard - has resulted in a high tech region of global stature, with trump cards like Brainport Eindhoven and major corporations such as Philips, ASML and VDL. Brabant's manufacturing industry competes successfully at global level. The agri-food sector is thriving as never before. The chemicals sector is fighting fit and on top of its game.

Open-innovation campuses

Brabant's approach to work and collaboration is a worldwide success. Resulting in smart solutions for global challenges. Conceived in the region's eight (!) open-innovation campuses that focus on knowledge sharing and network collaboration. With a constant flow of ideas between High Tech Campus Eindhoven, the Green Chemistry Campus, Pivot Park, Gate2 Aeroparc, Grow Campus, Automotive Campus, Brainport Industries Campus and the TU/e Campus. And then there are the more than 80,000 family businesses in the region: proof that entrepreneurial ambition and expertise pass from generation to generation in Brabant. Bavaria the beer brewer, Hutten the caterers, Brabantia the manufacturer of household products, Libéma the leisure company, Van Bommel the shoe manufacturer and Jumbo the supermarket chain to name just a few. Successful, consistently managed, substantial family businesses with their roots in Brabant. Where the work ethic is strong, the lines of communication are short and the coffee is always fresh. That too is typical of entrepreneurship in Brabant: doing business and hospitality are inextricably linked.

Pleasure-loving Brabant

Brabant is iconic. Thanks to its people, their history and their traditions. It effortlessly combines working hard and enjoying life. Because of its countless cafés and restaurants, the region is known for its Burgundian lifestyle and great hospitality. And the many theatres, museums, events and amusement parks attract visitors from elsewhere in the Netherlands and countries all over the world. Did you know, for example, that Brabant has the highest festival density in the Netherlands? With attractions such as Jazz in Duketown, BredaPhoto Festival, Theaterfestival Boulevard and the Paaspop pop festival and Proefmei culinary festival, we have a varied offer for young and old. For businesses too. The old adage that the best ideas in Brabant start with a quick sketch on the back of a beer mat is as true today as it ever was.

Enjoyment with a capital E and simple pleasures

Brabant is full of beautiful nature reserves and magnificent museums, both large and small. Kampina, the Loonse en Drunense Duinen, Noordbrabants Museum, Museum De Pont, Van Gogh Nationaal Park: they all stand for Enjoyment with a capital E in Brabant. And we also enjoy more simple pleasures. In cultural centres and community centres. In the many clubs and associations in Brabant, and on its sports fields where you can play a huge range of amateur sports. We like meeting up with each other and do so as often as possible. With Carnival - a reflection of Brabant’s Catholic origins - as the undisputed highlight of the year. A huge party that carries on for days, creating bonds between born-and-bred locals and visitors from other regions and countries.

Achieving Brabant

Brabant knows the meaning of achievement. With our leading companies, world-class athletes, top artists and trendsetting events, we are at the top of the performance curve. In the Netherlands and in the rest of the world. VDL, ASML, Philips, Maxi-Cosi, Sabic; These well-known names all originate from Brabant and are still based here. World-class athletes from this region have consistently delivered near-perfect performances at the highest international level during the European Championships, the World Championships and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. For example, cycling prodigies like Marianne Vos and Steven Kruiswijk, Ireen Wüst, our skating champion, leading female footballer Daniëlle van de Donk, top hockey player Lidewij Welten and paraplegic tennis star Maikel Scheffers. Brabant is bursting at the seams with talent.

International audiences

We also lead in the field of art, design and culture. Our DJs, Tiësto and Hardwell, tour all over the world. Top designer Piet Hein Eek and top architect Winy Maas have won an international reputation with their designs. And we attract a large international audience every year with the WOO HAH! hip hop festival in Tilburg, the Flower Parade in Zundert , the Dutch Design Week (DDW) and the GLOW light art festival in Eindhoven, which all push the boundaries of art, design and technology. Just like Vincent van Gogh and Hieronymus Bosch, who still manage to attract a large crowd of fans to Brabant. The constant vibe of creativity combined with good entrepreneurship makes the region an attractive hotspot for talent. Also for the more than 1.2 million visitors who come here every year. Brabant makes you feel welcome.

The other side of Brabant

In Brabant, we connect, push boundaries, trade and manufacture products, enjoy life and achieve. Because we pool our ideas, set up partnerships and are not afraid to think outside the box. These are the factors that also make us successful in agri-food, our second largest business sector after high tech. As a region, we owe a great deal to our agricultural entrepreneurs, who lead the world when it comes to food production and technology. With high tech and agri-food as the two most important economic activities in Brabant, we excel internationally in this area. But there is also a downside to this success. The relationship between intensive agriculture on the one hand, and environmental conservation and human and animal well-being on the other hand, is strained. That is why the sector is now fully committed to sustainability and innovation. With the aim of accelerating the reduction of ammonia and nitrogen emissions.

Historic Brabant

The strong connection between Brabant and the people who are born and bred here dates back many centuries. We are used to joining forces and shouldering the load together. When French troops invaded our country in 1795, the region became a sort of no-man’s-land between powerful opponents. So we took matters into our own hands. Unorthodox as we were, that same year we formed Bataafsch Braband and put a fully-fledged provincial government in place. Together, we were a force to be reckoned with. Even in those early days. And we took the same approach when small farmers found that they had to work themselves almost to death for a poor harvest. We put our heads together and started experimenting: with our own waste as a raw material for food. Smart and innovative. The Brabantian farmer as an ecologist ‘avant la lettre’.

Deeply rooted

Traditionally, the Brabantians turn to each other to get things done. Based on their Catholic mentality and feeling of togetherness. This also happened when Father Van den Elsen encouraged Brabant’s smallholders to organise themselves at the end of the 19th century. The ‘farmers’ apostle’ inspired them to action en masse; in no time at all, every village had its farmers’ union and agricultural cooperative bank. It was the start of the period of economic emancipation for farmers. So the fact that agriculture is still one of the principal sectors underpinning Brabant’s economy is no more than logical. And the fact that we still collaborate to get things done in Brabant, reflecting our Catholic roots and culture of caring for each other. Togetherness 2.0. Anything deeply rooted can grow to great heights. Particularly in Brabant.

Brabant's future

We are still taking matters into our own hands in Brabant. And we will continue to do so in the future. We see changes as a challenge rather than a threat. And there are plenty of them in this rapidly transforming world. The energy transition, climate change, the transition to a circular economy, international migratory flows, the transition to sustainable agriculture; these challenges require us to join forces more than ever. And we are doing so. Because we know the benefits of good collaboration from past experience. If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together. And contribute your own strengths and resources.

Major cities

The same can be said of the major cities in Brabant. 's-Hertogenbosch, the capital of Brabant, is the cultural centre of the south and a world-class data science city. Eindhoven, the heart of the Brainport region, stands for creativity, innovation, technology and design. Breda contributes its historic, green, hospitable city centre. And Tilburg, the inclusive city, sets an example with its social policies. This extensive range of activities and their diversity create new networks, which in turn add a new dimension to Brabant’s solidarity. Now and in the future.

Breda: The hospitable green city | Brabant Brand Box
Photo: Marc Bolsius

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