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Growing Up

The Spinoza centre for Neuro-imaging, a joint investment in high-quality equipment on the part of a number of research institutions and the Municipality of Amsterdam, was launched at the official residence of the Mayor of Amsterdam on 18 December 2007. It so happens that life sciences were also discussed at the official residence of Mayor Cohen precisely four years prior to this festive occasion, on 18 December 2003. The question then concerned whether or not knowledge institutions, the business community and the municipality could work together to strengthen the life sciences sector in Amsterdam, and if so how. Fortunately, the answer to this question was affirmative and the launch of the Spinoza centre is a clear indication that the co-operation has proved successful.

Over a period of four years, the Amsterdam BioMed Cluster (this name was still to be devised in 2003) has grown from a pre-schooler to an adolescent, so to speak. As is the case with the upbringing of a child, this went in fits and starts. However, the will and the need to achieve greater co-operation ultimately proved to be strong enough to overcome any resistance. Let us count our blessings: knowledge institutions and companies together give an impulse to the transfer of knowledge, the availability of financing for companies improves, the life sciences sector of Amsterdam is on the agenda of both the municipality and the national government, and we have an impressive website. And of course what I, as a representative of the Chamber of Commerce, feel is important is the fact that companies in Amsterdam are doing well. Agendia, AMT and Avantium, to name but three, are stirring things up on the national and international market.

The adolescent has not yet reached maturity. He still has to gain economic weight. More companies that are as successful as the three mentioned above, more sales, and more employment. We have met the conditions for realising this kind of growth spurt. However, one aspect still needs to be improved: sufficient adequate business accommodation “in stock” for companies that are just starting out as well as for companies that have the desire to establish themselves in the area. There are more than enough possibilities in and around Amsterdam; the main thing now is to transform these possibilities into building blocks.

I am proud of the fact that I have been able to contribute to the upbringing of the Amsterdam BioMed Cluster in my capacity of a representative of the Chamber of Commerce Amsterdam. I plan to switch jobs as of 1 February 2008. I hope to then be able to contribute to strengthening the sector of vocational training in the Zaandam region and its surroundings, as this is also important.

I wish all of the partners of the Amsterdam BioMed Cluster a very successful 2008.

 Frank de Graaf
Chamber of Commerce

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