After returning home from a recent backpacking trip through Taiwan, I opened my inbox to find emails from Reykjavík, as well as requests to host delegations from Portugal and Australia. Even after 30 years, our story is still attracting attention from around the globe. How exactly have we managed such a successful collaboration between multiple government bodies and the Netherlands’ largest airport? What’s our secret?
As always, blazing a new trail requires people with clear goals, who are courageous, willing to take action, and able to make long-term commitments. In founding the Schiphol Area Development Company (SADC), the province of Noord-Holland, the municipalities of Haarlemmermeer and Amsterdam, and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol overcame obstacles and forged lasting partnerships. From the outset, SADC’s aim has been to achieve both financial and social returns. We develop state-of-the-art business facilities, thereby stimulating economic growth and helping to create more jobs in the region. Our commitment to long-term value creation calls for ‘patient capital’, as advocated in the most recent version of the Dutch Corporate Governance Code.
At SADC, our work is all about people. Our residents consist of the many businesses that choose one of our working environments, along with their employees. Making their lives easier and helping their businesses grow is what drives us. From our residents’ perspective, SADC’s role starts with helping them to find a suitable location in the park for their business, then guiding them through the permit application process and construction phase. But in reality, our focus on residents’ needs begins much earlier. We carefully monitor global developments and strive to offer businesses an optimal working environment, both now and in the future. And our service doesn’t stop once they have moved into their new locations; our motto is ‘once a customer, always a customer’. Together, we ensure that our business facilities are of the highest quality. When it comes to security, road maintenance, landscaping and more, we go above and beyond the basic municipal services. And we respond to new developments and opportunities as a team, working with park management associations and other partners. Examples of tangible results include our fibre optic infrastructure, as well as projects designed to reduce costs and improve sustainability (such as ‘Hello Energy’ and ‘Zero Waste’).
Working together to accomplish shared goals is second nature to us. Each and every one of our projects involves collaboration, and each requires its own unique approach. When assessing our results, we consider them from a social, financial and commercial point of view, as well as from the perspective of our users. These varied perspectives not only keep us inspired, but they’re also crucial when it comes to developing integrated solutions and generating new concepts together with others. We put our skills to work developing the Valley, the world’s first circular business hub; the Green Datacenter Campus, which aims to supply 100% of its energy needs from waste heat recovery and other renewable sources; and Gateway E-commerce, a collaboration between the Customs Administration of the Netherlands, Schiphol and logistics providers.
Business is booming in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. This region attracts businesses from all corners of the world – from Hoofddorp to Brussels to Atlanta. We’re known for our strong language skills, as well as the robustness and versatility of our regional economy and labour pool. We consistently score high in international rankings for quality of life, as well as for innovation, sustainability and our startup climate. The area is also renowned for its lightning-fast connectivity, both in terms of ‘traditional’ physical infrastructure and digital infrastructure, thanks to AMS-IX and the rapidly expanding data centre market.
Despite all these successes, there’s a sense of ‘positive restlessness’ here at SADC. This restlessness has to do with the enormous untapped potential represented by the transition to a circular economy, smarter and more streamlined digitisation processes, and logistic challenges. At present, our region is still too fragmented, with a variety of different players all pursuing their own initiatives and programmes. There’s a great deal of goodwill and even a number of concrete projects, but not nearly as many as could be accomplished by combining manpower, funding and energy. And that’s a shame. Our approach needs to be bigger and more ambitious. We need to do more, do it better, and do it together. And above all, keep blazing new trails!
Why backpack through Taiwan, you may ask? My curiosity about this lovely country was piqued by a visit from a Taiwanese delegation in 2016. They, too, were highly enthusiastic about the SADC model and impressed by the steps we’re taking towards circular development at our business locations.