Orange Optimism – It’s Contagious!
by Jeroen Nijland, Commissioner, Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency
As a color, orange has had positive associations in many cultures, across the centuries. In China, orange is the color of transition. It is also the color most often linked with Hinduism and Buddhism in large parts of central Asia. In Europe and America, orange is associated with positivity, vitality, and confidence. For the Dutch impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, who was described by fellow artists as ‘the master of orange’, it was the quintessence of bright sunlight.
House of Orange
In the Netherlands, we are fortunate that our national color is orange. It’s in the name of our royal family – the House of Orange. On ‘Koningsdag‘, the national public holiday for the King’s birthday, virtually the entire population dresses in orange and some canals and fountains are even dyed orange for the day. Orange has happy and positive associations for us and is ingrained in our culture. In Europe, carrots used to be red or white, until Dutch farmers bred an orange variety as a tribute to the ‘stadtholder’ of Holland and Zeeland: William of Orange.
Numerous independent surveys have ascertained that we Dutch are the most optimistic folk in Europe, so perhaps orange affects us in a positive way! Positivity is a great asset, not only for our society but also for businesses located here as they have direct access to a highly-motivated workforce – a large pool of positive, productive, multilingual people. In fact, our own annual survey of foreign businesses located here reveals high values allocated to key aspects such as multilingualism and workplace productivity, with scores of 8.5- and 7.5 out-of-ten respectively.
Warmth and openness
This positivity helps us to think out of the box, to come up with creative, yet pragmatic solutions to global challenges. Our inter-linked delta environment drives much of our collaborative processes – large projects require many partners working in harmony. So we have floating housing estates that can cope with changing water levels. We invented self-repairing roads to minimize disruption on our busy highway networks. We use the heat from computing server farms to heat radiators in private houses. Positive, sustainable solutions for a better society.
Positivity and innovation are closely linked, so it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that the Ocean Clean-up Project to tackle the great Pacific garbage patch was conceived by young Dutch student, Boyan Slat. Or, that our students from Delft Technical University (TU Delft), one of Europe’s leading tech universities, won Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop pod competition in California with their innovative vehicle design. Perhaps that’s why we recently ranked in the top-3 most innovative countries in the world.
It’s nice to discover that we are some of the most optimistic people in Europe, or that our children are the most contented; however, it’s not just a fuzzy orange feeling. Our sound economic policies have resulted in us being in the top-5 most robust economies in the world, located at the heart of the second-largest single market in the world: the EU. It’s hardly surprising then to learn that last year we had a record number of businesses choosing to locate in the Netherlands. There has also been a huge increase in the number of university students from abroad choosing to study here. To cope with current and future demand we’ve made significant investments in education, specifically for overseas students, to ensure that we can share our positive, inclusive, innovative society with all who wish.
Fifty shades of grey
In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent van Gogh once said of the color orange that he was “searching for oppositions of blue with orange…. trying to make the colors intense and not a harmony of grey.”
There is enough greyness in the world today, so why not come to the Netherlands and experience our intense, positive, energizing, orange business environment!