The Hague – The Netherlands performs well economically but in the field of competition and innovation it finds itself in Europe’s middle bracket. This became clear from a report from TNO research institute published last Friday.
Even though the Netherlands still invests in the development of the knowledge economy, the number of people working in the field of innovation has dropped below the EU average. An unfavourable development is especially seen in the technology and science labour market. Comparatively speaking, few students, and especially women, opt for science subjects. What is also remarkable, is that foreign companies foot the bill for a growing amount of innovation expenses.
Increase in Scale
If the Netherlands wishes to be in the same league as countries such as China and Germany, then the government and businesses will have to focus especially on economical increase in scale, according to TNO. This may be made possible by developing and strengthening successful business sectors. Apart from large businesses such as Phillips and ASML, companies will never be able to finance an extended innovation department. A group of competing and cooperating businesses will be able to accomplish this. This is evident in Eindhoven where the Technical University is in close cooperation with the existing business community.
Chairman for the employers’ organisation VNO-NCW Bernard Wientjes applauds the plea for closer cooperation between industry and politics. “The idea that we are a post-industrial nation focussing on the service industries has developed in the Netherlands. We need to get rid of that notion, especially during this unsteady economical time. More funds should be made available to strengthen our top industrial sectors.” Hans Biesheuvel a representative for trade association MKB adds that not only innovation should be stimulated but there should also be more focus on enterprise. According to Hans Clevers, appointed president of science institute KNAW only this week, “True innovating businesses are usually companies with new ideas just setting up. That is why inventors of knowledge should be granted more power in the future.” Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation Maxime Verhagen states, “ In comparison to other countries, the Netherlands does not invest enough money in research and development.”