Science gives boost to top sectors in the Netherlands

Science gives boost to top sectors in the Netherlands

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has presented its plans for a substantial contribution to the top sectors policy of the Dutch cabinet. The plans contain a broad package of activities for the next few years with which NWO will link science to the strategic research and innovation agendas that have been compiled for the nine top sectors. In the current financial economic situation, science definitely has a crucial role to play as a source and motor for renewal and innovation. The collaboration between science and industry takes centre stage in this and participating businesses will be asked to make extra investments.

NWO’s proposals fit within its national role in the Dutch research and innovation system: the funding of excellent scientific research on the basis of open and national competition and ensuring that the results of this benefit society.

Together with hundreds of scientists, representatives from NWO have contributed their expertise to all top teams. Besides the plans per top sector, the NWO plans also contain proposals for cross-sectoral themes such as social innovation and ICT. All of the top teams agree that fundamental scientific research, including curiosity driven, response-mode research, is an important pillar for sustainable economic growth.

The total package of the proposed investment plans for 2012-2013 contains over €225 million of NWO funding. Most of this will be invested in public-private partnerships. With this NWO is making a substantial contribution to the funding needed to make the top sector policy a success. NWO’s contribution also creates the conditions needed for an effective cofunding by the private sector and NWO is now calling upon businesses to do just that.

NWO states that it is and remains an organisation for the entire spectrum of science and, therefore, it must be able to continue to make use of the full range of funding instruments. Nevertheless the release of funds for the top sectors will have consequences for the size of existing funding programmes. For 2012-2013 this means a clear shift in the funding from response-mode research to investments in themes.

The investments in the top sectors that are being required from NWO place a considerable demand on its financial possibilities. According to NWO chair Jos Engelen, NWO has pulled out all the stops in this area for the time being. However, extra investments in the future will also most certainly be needed if damage to the Dutch knowledge and innovation system is to be prevented.

The letter of submission to the Minister for Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (Maxime Verhagen) and the State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science (Halbe Zijlstra) can be found at

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