The Dutch coalition government introduced a new policy back in 2010-2011 with the intention of restoring The Netherlands into the top five of knowledge economies. The Netherlands held fifth position in 2012, but has since slipped to eighth place in the Global Competitiveness Index.
The government intends to spend 2.5% of the total Dutch GDP on R&D by 2020 and to get the various public authorities, companies, universities and knowledge institutes to formulate their joint research ambitions into roadmaps for the future.
The main elements of the ‘top sector policy’ are defined by creating an excellent climate for entrepreneurship and innovation. Policy focuses efforts on developing nine top sectors including High Tech Systems and Materials, Life sciences and Health, Chemical industry, Creative Industries, Energy, Agriculture and Food.
The top sector policy was introduced when the government was focused on reducing the budget deficit. Dutch ministries were facing cuts in their budgets and national subsidies to incentivize R&D co-operations were heavily reduced. Universities and knowledge institutes were under a lot of pressure financially. As a result the ‘top sector policy’ has not always been positively received.
Since the implementation of the policy there has been a tremendous effort to consolidate the research ambitions of companies, universities and knowledge institutes into joint roadmaps. A substantial amount of cash contributions from companies for university research has been directed towards topics relevant to the top sectors.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs will invest over €50 million euros per year in R&D actors in the Netherlands to take part in European programmes, like Eureka and ECSEL.