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Trilateral strategy for the chemical industry

Cross-border cooperation between the Netherlands, Flanders and North Rhine-Westphalia

The trilateral region of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), Flanders (Belgium) and the Netherlands is home to one of the world’s most powerful chemical industry clusters.

The industry, however, is facing an increasingly competitive environment, especially with China, India and Saudi Arabia building large and sophisticated production facilities for the chemical industry.

Preparing for the future, the Ministry of Economics for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Flemish Government’s Department of Economy and the Netherlands’ Ministry for Economic Affairs have, for the first time, developed a joint vision and strategy for the future improvement of this industry.

In collaboration with the chemist Professor Michael Dröscher, Prognos has supported these three states in their development of a trilateral strategy.

According to experts, the chemical industry cluster could increase its gross value by 58 billion euros by 2030 if it was able to establish a comprehensive partnership between industry, academia and government. This accelerated growth will be facilitated by a combination of different measures in the fields of Research & Innovation, Energy & Feedstocks, Chemical Infrastructure and Policy Co-ordination through dedicated joint actions, such as supporting the digitalisation of chemical parks and setting up demonstration plants for new chemical industry innovations.

The chemical industry cluster of North Rhine-Westphalia, Flanders and the Netherlands employs more than 350,000 people and has an annual turnover of 180 billion euros (2015 figures). Building upon its Verbund structure, i.e. the tight physical integration of chemical plants in the three regions, the trilateral chemical industry profits from a very efficient production structure.

Almost 20% of the sector’s total turnover at European level is generated by this trilateral chemical industry cluster. In terms of chemical sales per capita, the trilateral region is by far the highest performing chemical region worldwide with approximately EUR 3,600 of sales per capita (China: EUR 1,300; Japan: EUR 1,500; USA: EUR 2,400).


The study used a comprehensive methodological approach comprising secondary data analysis, forecasting techniques (e.g. Prognos Economic Outlook), expert interviews and two roundtable discussions with chemical industry experts from all three regions.

Autor: Dr. Jan-Philipp Kramer (Project leader), Hans-Paul Kienzler, Moritz Schrapers, Janosch Nellen, and Florian Messemer in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Michael Dröscher

Kunde: Ministry of Economics, Innova-tion, Digitalization & Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia/ Department of Economy, Sci-ence & Innovation of the Flemish Government/ Netherlands Ministry for Economic Affairs

Jahr: 2017

Typ: Study

Tags: 2030, China, research, investment, Research & Development