The combination of societal challenges in the areas of safety, health and sustainability with technologies such as AI, photonics and quantum growing at lightning speed creates opportunities for Dutch high-tech. That is the conclusion of a report TNO published today.
- Forecast: in 2040, half of sector turnover will come from new value chains
- Maintaining competitive position requires productivity growth of 150% in sector
- Sector must transform to 100% sustainable operations
To capitalize on these opportunities, a joint strategy is needed from companies, knowledge institutions and government. The National Growth Fund must also be transformed into a structural financing instrument for R&D. Arnaud de Jong, managing director TNO High Tech Industry: “Dutch high-tech has the potential to produce a handful of new ASMLs in the coming decades. That requires a joint approach from a strong innovation agenda.”
With a turnover of 80 billion euros in 2021, the high-tech industry is an important contributor to the earning capacity of the Netherlands. TNO looked into the possibilities for the branch to maintain its societal value in the future. Expectations are that in 2040 some fifty percent of turnover will be generated in new value chains, such as laser satellite communication and equipment for sustainable energy. In order to maintain the Dutch competitive position in high tech, the industry should increase its productivity by 150 percent and transform its operations towards 100 percent sustainability. To increase our strategic autonomy, TNO believes it is essential we build these value chains, focusing our innovation policy for the longer term.
National high-tech strategy
This transformation poses a number of new challenges. The Netherlands as a whole should get better at accelerating market adoption of innovations and new technologies, for instance through start-up and scale-up programs and targeted international cooperation. Additional policies to attract talent will have to be set up, an important aspect of which would be the human capital agenda that recruits people based on skills instead of education level. De Jong: “To facilitate companies in high-tech in these challenges, we need a National High-Tech Strategy that builds on the National Technology Strategy. We invite high-tech businesses, knowledge institutes and the government to develop this strategy together.”
Funding of R&D
TNO also looked at the Dutch innovation policy and how research is funded. Until around 2030 the Netherlands will invest heavily in the transformation of the high-tech industry, mainly through the National Growth Fund programs. This National Growth Fund will boost the industry in the years to come, but according to TNO a strategic vision on the industry is lacking. For instance, the European Chips Act will be implemented in the Netherlands shortly, but there is no clear implementation strategy, which is essential if we want to realise breakthroughs in key technologies such as advanced materials, quantum and nano-technology.