Overijssel is one of the 12 provinces in the Netherlands, located in the eastern part of the country. It also shares the border with Germany, with the Länder Niedersachsen and Nordrhein-Westfalen. The European road and railway transport corridor to northern Germany, Poland up to the Baltic crosses Overijssel.
Total inhabitants are approximately 1,15 million. The area is 3.420,74 km² large, comprising the river IJssel and some smaller rivers. The population density is 348 inhabitants/km². Half of the population lives in the cities, indicating high urbanisation trends. There are in total 25 municipalities. The home of the regional government is Zwolle, the capital of the province.
In economic terms, there are three distinct regions in the province. The first is the region of Twente with the University of Twente and Saxion University of Applied Sciences as providers of higher education and source for research and innovation. Twente has had a long history in textile manufacturing. A lot of reconstruction of industrial sites has been taken up during the last decennia. There is still a large manufacturing sector in Twente, mostly metal, machinery, and building material suppliers and an increasing share of high-tech spinoff and foreign multinational-owned companies. Construction, warehousing, and logistics account for a substantial part of employment and business value, profiting from nearby Germany. The region is also known for its natural preservation and landscape and a favourite destiny for short stay holidays.
The second region is Cleantech City Triangle Deventer-Zutphen-Apeldoorn which overlaps with the southern neighbor province of Gelderland. Deventer, being the city within Overijssel, is an old Hanseatic town with a well preserved historical centre. In comparison with Twente, its economic profile is more geared towards the service sectors. The vision of this region is to use cleantech to make the business and housing climate in the region more sustainable.
Finally, there is the region Zwolle with the Windesheim University of Applied Sciences as the higher education institute and the historical capital Zwolle as an increasing junction of roads and railways has a varied industry structure (government, care/cure, commercial services, family-owned manufacturing industries) in an attractive environment for tourism, leisure, and living. Thanks to its location near the Amsterdam/The Hague/Rotterdam Randstad area, the region benefits from economic spillover effects.
Generally speaking, Overijssel has an average profile on almost all socio-economic indicators in the Netherlands. In terms of contribution to sustainable development, the province and regions have been developing two Regional Energy Strategies for Twente and West-Overijssel, providing a time horizon up to 2030 to make the built environment more sustainable. There are big investment plans for more solar fields, isolation of houses, and reconversion of city and industrial energy infrastructure. So far, provinces have been coordinating this in close collaboration with the national level.
The regional development plan vision:
In Overijssel, the main sectors that contribute to export and competitiveness, revealing high added-value are high-tech machinery and apparel; polymer materials and components; building and construction; and logistics and warehousing. With regard to the competitive advantages, Overijssel appears to be quite strong in three domains: (i) the region is located in the Eurodelta capture area; (ii) there is a skilled labor workforce with a sober working attitude; and (iii) the overall living conditions are attractive.
Overijssel has its own regional priorities, challenges, and needs. With climate change and environmental threats indicating a gloomy future, the province has great need of adjustments for energy saving, housing, and climate adaptation. At the same time, it is acknowledged that enlargement of the share of higher value business activities, mostly smart manufacturing related, is required. Moreover, better public transport connections along the ax of Zwolle-Enschede-Münster (Germany) can contribute to addressing current challenges.
There have also been developments in Overijssel’s smart specialisation strategy. The RIS3 strategy has been updated, while several larger investment schemes for innovation are in place, concentrating on the technology transfer and collaboration between academic research and business innovation. The regional investment potential is supported by national-level STI-policy and is more and more geared towards UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In high-tech materials and systems, Twente is second to Brainport Eindhoven in the Netherland with respect to the level of innovation and amount of specialised manufacturing companies in this field.