After several successful group visits in Europe in 2016-2018, Oost NL (East Netherlands Development Agency) and her partners from Health~Holland and Trade and Innovate NL continue their focus on boosting the international growth of Dutch companies active in Digital Health (HealthIT) & Smart Devices in Canada autumn 2018. This will be the first step in a more structural program to assist these companies into the Canadian market specifically and North-American market in general.

Digital Health & Smart Devices

When we talk about this part of healthcare industry we mean: ‘ companies that develop and/or sell products and services that aim to improve the digitalization, mobility and connectivity of healthcare. And thereby increase productivity, make healthcare better and easier accessible to everybody anywhere. The products & services developed in this industry are often easily scaleable and transferable to new international markets, but to do this companies need a perfect understanding of how to access these markets due to differences in the organization of healthcare.

Through the close cooperation between business, government and academia, the Netherlands has the quality and expertise to develop further as one of the world leading regions in the field of Digital Health & Smart Devices. In the European index of developers ranking and adaptiveness in healthcare, the Netherlands is one of the leading countries for mHealth and other Digital Health solutions. In Canada people are aware of the outstanding level of healthcare in the Netherlands. Therefore companies that have started and grown within this system have an advantage.

Why Canada?

For international growth of this specific sub industry it is logic to target countries that face similar challenges in Healthcare as the Netherlands. From a geographical perspective Canada may seem the complete opposite of the Netherlands, being one of the largest countries in size and less populated in the world. But the biggest health challenges are roughly the same:

  • An ageing population with a substantive growth of chronical conditions.
  • Pressure on the budget of healthcare due to a growing imbalance with young and working persons paying for healthcare and elderly using healthcare.
  • A multi-ethnic population that pushes healthcare to diversify its offerings.

But there are also differences between the countries that form opportunities (as well as threats) to successfully internationalize into Canada:

  • Canada is a little behind to the Netherlands (and other European countries) in the baby-boom generation. So companies can leverage on the experiences in the Dutch and European markets.
  • The Canadian health market and policy is organized provincially, where the system in the Netherlands has a hybrid organizational model of national policies and execution by national and local (municipality) governments and health insurance companies.


  • Although 80 % of the Canadians live in the major cities situated in the South, the rest of the countriescitizens are widely dispersed and it can be hard to guarantee a proper level of healthcare in these areas. Digital health tools can make a difference here.

Last but not least there are other more general motives to shift focus to Canada for Dutch companies:

  • The recently approved trade agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU makes doing business easier and more profitable.
  • Canada is part of the EU Eureka Eurostars program, which gives SMEs and knowledge (healthcare) institutions from both sides the option to partly fund a R&D cooperation, often a perfect stepping stone into a new health market.
  • A large part of the Canadian population shares the same (Dutch) heritage and we have a similar socio-economic structure and share similar values in society and life.

Our partners

We are dedicated to create meaningful partnerships and cooperation with foreign parties. As we strive towards becoming a leading country of innovators and producers in Life Sciences and Health, we look forward to fostering more partnerships between our companies and institutions with partners worldwide.

We will organize this program with great pleasure in close cooperation with the Dutch economic network in Canada, Health~Holland the executive bureau of the Top Sector Life Sciences & Health, University of Twente, TO Health, Toronto Global, Canadian Embassy in the Netherlands, Calgary Economic Development and Medicen Paris (for joint program in Toronto). The trade mission is funded by the GO4EXPORT program of the provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland. The program is open to all Dutch companies and healthcare/research organization active in the focus area.

When: 28 October 4 November, 2018 (incl. travel and day-off)

Where: Greater Toronto and Calgary (and Edmonton tbd)

Estimated size of delegation: 15 delegates

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