By Thijs Geijer, Senior Economist ING Economic Bureau

Full of self-confidence but still too modest. That’s how the attitude of the Eindhoven region can be characterized in the debate around the division of the 950 million euros that have been made available for regional initiatives. To strengthen innovation, the influx of clever minds and the level of facilities, Eindhoven has asked for a contribution of € 170 million from the national government.

In view of the region’s economic contribution to the country, this request is more than justified. The region is growing with impressive figures (our estimates point to 5% growth in 2017 and 3.5% in 2018) and high-tech is the driving force. Of the private R&D investments, approximately € 5 billion, a third is made in the region. While traditional economic centers such as Rotterdam and The Hague are looking for their future earnings model and are struggling with relatively high unemployment, the tightness of the Eindhoven labour market is growing rapidly.

Everything is, therefore, in place for the regional administrators to get what they ask for. A request for € 170 million will not cause any policymaker in the Hague to frown.

By way of comparison: the National Government contributed almost € 200 million to the renovated Rijksmuseum. Better facilities feature prominently in the proposal. The argumentation why these facilities are also helping the rest of the Netherlands, however, is brief. This is something that Amsterdam is handling in a much better way. Despite the overcrowded city, a dive in our history in the Rijksmuseum is a compulsory element for all Dutch pupils.

Why doesn’t Eindhoven show the ambition to receive all these busloads of schoolchildren in the Evoluon 2.0, ASML’s Experience Center, and the High Tech Campus – so they can get a glimpse into their future as well?

This article was first published in FD (Dutch)

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