Floating forest Rotterdam © Iris van den Broek

Rotterdam: City of innovation and surprise

Do you want to really experience Rotterdam? Then walk around or take the (electric) bicycle. Take off your headphones, turn off your smartphone and take a tour of the city. Hear, see and especially feel the city of Rotterdam: buzzing, dazzling and vibrating with energy.

Here – where the city, water, the largest port in Europe and industries have literally touched each other for centuries – it happens. You see new things all the time and are constantly taken by surprise. Well, this is almost inevitable in a city where entrepreneurs, residents and government actively cooperate and work at a sustainable city and port of the future.

Heijplaat Rotterdam © Gerhard van Roon/Kunst en Vliegwerk

Get to work

Rotterdam residents are hard workers: roll up your sleeves and get to work is their motto.
Another characteristic of the city and its inhabitants is a desire for innovation. Innovation is not a buzzword in Rotterdam, but an everyday and tangible reality. They understand that in order to move forward, innovation is self-evident. And for that you need to work together, share knowledge and inspire each other.
There are several places where this is very clearly visible, such as the Rotterdam Makers District on a former shipyard where creative and innovative companies, educational and research institutions work together on smart solutions for the city and the port.
Or take for example the Groot Handelsgebouw in the Central District, the meeting place for energetic, ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs. Here you’ll also find the Cambridge Innovation Center’s first international location, linking local start-ups, investors and established businesses to create an innovative ecosystem.
And last but not least, the Life Sciences & Health Hub in the Rotterdam Science Tower, with a strong community of medical-scientific educational institutions, companies and laboratories, focused on innovation, scientific research and knowledge sharing.

Rainproof water square

The fact that Rotterdam is a city of renewal can partly be explained by its location. In a country that is half below sea level, people are looking for ways to deal with all that water.
The Netherlands is known worldwide for its innovative knowledge and expertise in the field of water management. Due to climate change, it rains more often and harder, while subsidence and urbanisation make it difficult to dispose of all that water properly and prevent flooding.
In Rotterdam, too, the water and the city are inextricably linked. It is not surprising that sustainable solutions also originate here.
For example, the Rotterdam urban development agency De Urbanisten came up with an innovative solution: a water square close to the city centre. On dry days this is a square like many other squares. But if it really pours, it transforms into an ingenious water storage facility with a storage capacity of almost two million litres of rainwater.

RDM Makersplace Rotterdam © Claire Droppert

Floating venues

The Rotterdam spirit of innovation is clearly visible in the range of conferences and MICE in the city. Over the years, many unique venues have been added, such as the Drijvend Paviljoen in Rijnhaven, a hotspot of culture, innovation and sustainability and an event location. This futuristic-looking structure on the water is an example of climate-proof construction. If the water level in the harbour rises, the building automatically rises along with it.
Another unique floating location is ss Rotterdam. The former star of the Holland-America Line has finally dropped its anchor in Rotterdam’s Maashaven. The ship offers many options for a one-day or multi-day conference.
The Floating Farm, currently under construction, will be the world’s first floating dairy farm. Here, innovation, education and awareness concerning the world food problem will soon go hand in hand. There will be a visitor centre next to the farm, offering plenty of space for a compact conference with an educational character.

ss Rotterdam]

Decent accessibility

With the international Rotterdam The Hague Airport just around the corner and Schiphol International Airport less than 30 minutes away by train, Rotterdam is easily accessible from abroad.
Rotterdam is like a small-scale metropolis, with its excellent and finely branched network of trams, metros and busses, the city is easily accessible. In the centre of the city, public transport is not even necessary; event locations, hotels and many leisure facilities are within walking distance of each other.
Rotterdam has plenty of possibilities to stay overnight, with over 8,000 hotel rooms in the metropolitan region, ranging from large hotel chains to small family hotels and everything in between. And with various stunning gems in transformed buildings, such as Room Mate Bruno in the former tea warehouse of the VOC or the newly opened Tribute hotel in the Slaakhuys.


The unique Rotterdam combination of accessibility, compactness, the ‘vibe’ and the drive for innovation and action also attracts medical associations looking for a special location for their conferences. Among others, the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement, the European Society for Paediatric Anaesthesiology and the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases have chosen Rotterdam as their venue for their conferences in 2019 and 2020 respectively. The increase in the number of scientific conferences is a sign that Rotterdam is the place where it all happens.

Rotterdam Partners

Are you considering Rotterdam as the next place for your international conference or business event? Rotterdam Partners Convention Bureau is independent, objective, free of charge and happy to help you! Just as businesses, education and knowledge institutions in Rotterdam are seeking each other out, Rotterdam Partners Convention Bureau also works together with over 170 Rotterdam partners in the business and tourist travel industry. Sharing knowledge, keeping each other informed about the latest developments in the city and actively working together form the basis of making your conference or event a great success.