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There is no doubt that the Netherlands and Germany are natural trading partners. But in order to (continue to) play a role on a global level, it is necessary to come closer together in the field of innovation and technology as well. In a “Germany plan“, the Dutch top sector High Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM) explains how this can take shape in the coming years. “We are taking our trading activities in Germany to a higher level, while at the same time focusing on a long-term relationship with Germany through a long-term programme,” explains Carina Weijma, HTSM’s head of International Affairs. Weijma especially looks for opportunities around Germany’s focus areas of Energy and Digitisation.

In the current geopolitical developments, the Netherlands wants to acquire a strong technological position within Europe, as the Germany plan shows. Weijma: “The Netherlands wants to be a co-director and not only serve China and the United States in the technological implementation of solutions for social challenges. Within Europe, the Netherlands would like to become more involved in the traditionally strong German-French axis in the field of industry and innovation. Our Dutch cultural characteristics such as cooperation, an open mindset, our pragmatic approach to innovation projects and our rapidly growing high-tech industry based on open innovation, are an excellent fundament for close cooperation”.

“Germany is already the largest export country for the Netherlands; the Netherlands must now ensure that Germany also chooses the Netherlands in the field of innovation.”

The ‘Germany plan’ links the strengths of the Netherlands to the needs of Germany and concludes that the opportunities are enormous. According to the plan, the strength of the Netherlands is visible in (key) technologies around high-tech materials (Thermo Plastics, lightweight), new transistors (Gallium Nitride, high power chips, photonic chips) and optics & sensors. Paired with the for Germany important ‘übergeortnete Themen‘ energy and digitization, the opportunities would be on these topics:

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    Energy:
    – Green energy storage (battery technology, fuel cells)
    – Electrical Systems
    – Energy Efficiency

    Digitization:
    – Data / Artificial Intelligence
    – Cybersecurity / Standardization
    – Smart Industry / Smart manufacturing
    – Robotics
    – e-Health / MedTech

    According to the plan, this will become visible in collaborations on themes such as photonics, semiconductors, automotive, aviation, composites, nanotechnology and space travel. Many of these collaborations are already underway, as an overview of the existing agreements makes clear:

    Current cooperation between the Netherlands and Germany © Top Sector HTSM

    The ongoing collaborations should be the springboard for the new ones, the plan says. The top sector HTSM sees itself as having a “connecting and directing role”, but calls in the help of a large number of Dutch network organisations: AutomotiveNL, Brainport Industries, CompositesNL, FME, High Tech NL, Metaalunie, MinacNed, Netherlands Aerospace Group, NL Space and PhotonicsNL.

    The underlying aim behind the plan is to have more impact as a Dutch HTSM sector and to make it easier for Germany to cooperate with the Netherlands. Weijma: “Germany is already the largest export country for the Netherlands; the Netherlands must now ensure that Germany also chooses the Netherlands instead of other countries in terms of innovation.”

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.