United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) is the second largest trade partner of the Netherlands. The Netherlands’s LSH-sector specifically has a strong connection and interest with England, which houses one of the world’s biggest health providers and buyers, the national health service (NHS). NHS provides excellent health services but is now confronted with an increased strain on the health system by an increasing burden of non-communicable diseases and an ageing population. The UK has therefore announced major investments to upgrade and grow health infrastructure and services. The UK also houses a large innovative LSH-industry which offers many opportunities for international R&D collaborations. The main challenges for Dutch organisations to start collaborations with the UK include Brexit and more recently COVID-19. The prospect of engaging and doing business with the UK however continues to be positive as the UK depends on import and international collaborations to operate and develop its health systems.

Key indicators

The UK has a highly developed LSH-sector which forms the third LSH-market in Europe. From the perspective of the Netherlands the following market trends are of interest:


The UK is investing heavily in upgrading its health system and infrastructure

  1. Integrating care locally: NHS is working to integrate primary care, community services and hospital care in collaborative networks to provide personalised and coordinated health services.
  2. Digitally transformating NHS: The Department of Health and Social Care is investing large amounts into digital transformation programmes to construct interoperabel digital health information management systems across the UK.
  3. Upgrading and growing health infrastructure: the UK government has invested major sums in the upgrade and build of NHS hospitals and GP facilities. The (independent) care home contruction market in the UK is also growing.
  4. Managing patient flow and providing health services outside of hospitals: The rising demand for health services in the UK has led to the so-called bed block crisis. In order to combat this crisis the UK is investing in smoother patient flow and shorter hospital stays and stimulating homecare.
  5. Adressing an increased burden of chronic diseases: chronic diseases have an increasing impact on the UK’s health status and budget. The UK is therefore expanding rehabilitation services and has issued a national NHS health screening programme. The UK also actively pursues a prevention agenda.

Research & innovation

The UK is one of the biggest investors in LSH worldwide (Wellcome Trust).

1. Chronic and debilitating diseases: the UK has issued so-called Grand Challenge Missions for healthcare to use data, Artificial Intelligence and Innovation to transform the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases. By 2030 the goal is to ensure that people can enjoy at least 5 extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest.

2. Early disease detection and drug discovery/Pharma:  through so-called Life Sciences Sector Deals the UK government has invested in 10 companies to innovate. The UK has an impressive infrastructure including the prominent the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre’ and the’ Vaccines Development and Manufacturing Centre’.

3. Regenerative medicine: currently a national programme on regenerative medicine is being organized in cooperation with Oxford, UCL, King’s College, Imperial College and the Welcome Trust.

4. Oncology: the UK is strongly developed in the field of oncology research. Strengths include the Francis Crick Institute and developed data science and genomics in the UK.

5. Digital Health Technology Catalyst: through this programme NHS invests in the development of digital interventions across the UK.

We do see a significant amount of international R&D cooperation projects between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom with applications in the health and care market. In EUROSTARS alone, we have seen around 52 SME R&D project collaborations since 2008. UK is #3 of SME R&D partner countries (after Germany and Switserland). EUROSTARS is an important instrument for SME R&D collaborations with UK partners. This  programme makes it possible to apply for funding for bilateral or multilateral research and innovation projects.

Netherlands Enterprise Agency could be a valuable entrance point for companies and consortia with research and innovation ambitions with UK partners. Because of it’s role as member of EUREKA network and national contact point for Horizon Europe and EU4Health, Netherlands Enterprise Agency has warm relations with government agency UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). These connections can be used for matchmaking and discuss support opportunies.


The UK is home to the biggest biopharmaceutical landscape within Europe and for this reason, for many Asian as well US companies the UK was the first choice for expansion of their HQ, R&D and manufacturing facilities.

6. In June 2016 the UK decided to leave the European Union and the preparations for Brexit were a fact.

7. In November 2020 the decision was made by the EU to relocate the EMA (European Medicines Agency) to the Netherlands.

8. Both Brexit as well as the relocation of the EMA are triggers to attract more Foreign Direct Investments to the Netherlands.

9. For this reason the NFIA, Innovation Quarter, the region of Utrecht and Amsterdam in Business have joined their forces and decided to set up a dedicated Invest in Holland Life Sciences & Health team with more FTE’s. In the beginning of 2021 the decision was made to support this team for another 3 years.

10. Factors that stimulate UK Life Sciences & Health companies to relocate or expand are, for example, replacement of Quality Control Labs and the need to appoint QA and QC staff in an EU country. Additional factors that cause UK companies to rethink their company structure are Supply Chain, talent, EU funding and CE marking.

11. Next to that, there is a strong collaboration with the UK ecosystem and the University Medical Centers within the Netherlands, which stimulates investment on the long term as well.

12. Within NFIA’s foreign office in the UK, there is one person dedicated to Life Sciences & Health. She is focused on connecting to the UK ecosystem and is the first point of contact for companies to support and promote investment opportunities for UK companies looking to connect with the Netherlands LSH eco-system.
She is also becoming part of the One Health nuclear network.

13. The team started with a strong focus on attracting biotech and pharmaceutical companies, but with new specific value propositions in place, the Invest in Holland Life Sciences & Health team is also reaching out to regenerative medicine, digital health and medical technology companies. In our new strategy we focus on companies that contribute to the solutions of the future and strengthen international clusters in these focus areas that work on societal challenges.

Regional priorities

Two areas within the United Kingdom have been the focal point for Dutch engagement in trade, investment and innovation:

  • Greater London has the highest health expenditure in the UK and houses the ‘Golden Triangle’ of LSE, Oxford and Cambridge which results in a high concentration of cutting-edge R&D and innovative trustd.
  • Northern Powerhouse region including the Greater Manchester Area is an attractive destination to enter the UK due to a high concentration of innovative health providers and the presence of MFT as the UK biggest NHS trust and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

Overview of Dutch interest in the United Kingdom per organisation type: The Dutch interest in the UK is high and is relatively stable. Task Force Health Care has identified 90 unique organisations to either be active or interested in the UK (UK LSH market study, 2019). This list includes 75 SMEs, 5 NGOs, 7 Multinationals and 3 Knowledge institures. Furthermore, the UK scores in the top 10 in the achilles database of incoming trade questions taking up 3% of all requests in 2018-2019.

Most prominent nl valuechains

1.    Value chain The digital transformation of health and care: Currently 30 known active organisations. Dutch organisations deliver solutions in AI, patient flow management and scheduling, system integration and telemedicine/home monitoring.

  • potential opportunities
    • Digital transformation of the health system is a high priority of the UK government which assigns large investments to grow digital infrastructure, further develop electronic health records, enable connectivity between health providers and realise access to teleconsults for the entire population.
  • barriers: Some highly competitive segments in f.e. scheduling and telemedicine. Difficulty to access innovation channels (NICE and AHS) for less innovative solutions. 
  • preferred region(s): Greater Manchester Area & Greater London.

2.    Value chain Accessible medical technology for sustainable health and care: Currently 22 known active organisations. Dutch organisations deliver a broad selection of solutions in f.e. oncology treatment, general surgery, general diagnostics etc and to a minor extent occupational health & safety solutions.

  • potential opportunities 
    • Increase in investment in both public and private sector. Focus on high quality solutions which improve quality of care and make health services more efficient (UK bed block crisis).
    • NHS invests in health screening programes and early detection of diseases.
  • barriers:
    • Regulatory affairs mainly related to Brexit, reimbursement through entering NHS, competition.
    • To a lesser extent it can be a challenge for Dutch organisations to found a business 
      • partner/local representative.
  • preferred region(s): Greater Manchester Area & Greater London

3.    Value chain Ageing Society: Currently 13 known active organisations. Dutch organisations deliver a broad selection of solutions in f.e. assisted living, dementia care and home monitoring.

  • potential opportunities
    • Increased investment in preventon and rehabilitation programmes. Long-term care programmes are expanding and nursing home market is growing.
    • The consumer market is also growing do to the introduction of personal health budgets. 
  • barriers:
    • Regulatory affairs mainly related to Brexit, reimbursement through entering NHS, competition.
    • Furthermore it can be challenging to reach stakeholders in public social care and private health providers in long-term care.
    • To a lesser extent it can be a challenge for Dutch organisations to found a business partner/local representative. Some organisatiosn therefore establish a UK LTD.
  • preferred region(s): Greater Manchester Area & Greater London

4.    Value chain Care Infrastructure: Currently 11 known active organisations. Dutch organisations deliver solutions mainly in sub-construction & (integrated) parts, furnishing, equipping & operations and to a minor extent design architecture and engineering. 

  • potential opportunities
    • Large investments in upgrading hospital facilities and general practice facilities.
    • The care home construction market is also growing.
  • barriers: Competition and entering public tenders f.e. through Procure22 which works with fixed contractors.
  • preferred region(s): N/A

Overview milestones & flagships

  • Trade (Market Study 2019)
  • Innovate: (joint R&D projects, specific bilateral calls)
  • Invest: (significant investments in the Dutch LSH sector)

Collective Trade Activities to the UK


  • Holland Pavilion at NSH Expo


  • Sectorreport e-Health by NSBO


  • UK LSH Market Study by NBSO & TFHC
  • Dutch Digital Health Theatre at Health + Care


  • Digital LSH Mission & Matchmaking Manchester


  • Health~Holland Europe Day

The way forward

As a prominent partner in healthcare for the Netherlands, the UK has been designated as a category 1 in the international strategy of the Topsector Life Sciences & Health 2020-2023. To grow future LSH collaboration between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom we look to build upon our ranking as one of the biggest exporters of medtech to the UK and position the Netherlands as a primary partner to improve health and care within the United Kingdom, not just through technology but also through dissemination of knowledge and (R&D) collaborations with the UK LSH ecosystem and industry. To achieve this goal we have set three ambitions: to further position the Dutch Life Sciences & Health Sector in the UK (specifically on the themes of Digital Health and AI, Mobility & Vitality and healthcare equipment and supplies), build partnerships with key decisionmakers and institutions in the UK and provide guidance to the Dutch LSH sector to prepare for Brexit.

Preferred actions


Positioning the Netherlands in the UK: Building partnerships on AI in healthcare.)


Market information: enriching the existing knowledge on market developments in the UK. eHealth and MedTech will remain important sectors


NBSO Manchester is planning a market report on Long Term Care for 2020, including residential care, domiciliary care and assisted living.

Preparing for and dealing with Brexit: Developments around Brexit will need to be carefully monitored to allow preparations for possible new trade regulations between the UK and Netherlands.

NBSO Manchester plans to organise a webinar on the topic in Q1 of 2021.


Trade agenda: From both the UK and Dutch side we signal high interest to continue contact In 2021. The starting point will be digital activities to build bridges in an appropriate manner. Matchmaking is a key element of these activities.

World of Health Care will continue to host UK delegations. In 2021 we work towards a hybrid physical/digital event. Furthermore, we will research participation in the Health & Care Expo.

Invest: EMA



UK | Market Study 2019


Kansendossier Medische Technologie Verenigd Koninkrijk


Sectorschets E-Health Verenigd Koninkrijk


A golden triangle of research and innovation excellence


Market Studies Opportunities for the Dutch Life Sciences & Health sector in the United Kingdom


AI in Health in the United Kingdom