The national R&D and innovation priorities are consistent with structural challenges in the Dutch research system. Much of the policy measures are aimed at increasing the R&D-intensity of the Dutch business sector, especially via the top sector approach. The challenges in human capital are also addressed in top sector approach by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ) and in the Strategic Agenda of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). See the section on Research Policy Goals for more information about the new focus.On 29 October 2012 the VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) and the PvdA (Labour Party) have presented their Coalition agreement. It is entitled 'Building bridges'. In the coalition agreement of the new government several measures related to the funding of research and innovation are announced:
Increase in Education and Research Spending. The available budget of €689 million (€808 million in 2018) will be used as follows: An additional €75 million will be spent on fundamental research, rising to €150 million on a structural basis. Of this amount €25 million will be provided through reprioritisation at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) (to be agreed) and €25 million through savings on business tax allowances (part of measure 81). The Ministries of OCW and Economic Affairs will thus meet the government cofinancing requirement for the Horizon 2020 programme.
Limitation of tax incentive schemes for innovation:In 2014 spending on the research and development tax credits (RDA and WBSO) and tax relief for innovation (‘innovation box’) will be cut by a total of €93 million. This amount will rise to €160 million in 2015 and subsequent years.
Lower overheads in higher education.Both teaching and research overheads in higher education will be reduced.
Increase in contributions to Top Consortiums for Knowledge and Innovation (TKIs): The budget for TKI contributions will be increased in order to encourage public-private partnerships. This can also be achieved through programmes and projects in the framework of Horizon 2020. If the Ministry of Economic Affairs has to provide co-financing, it will come from the TKI contribution budget.
And the National Reform Programme 2013 has included the main R&D priorities that the Dutch government has set in line with the European Commission Country-specific recommendations for the Netherlands and the Coalition Agreement. The thematic R&D priorities are mainly focused in: (1) promoting cooperation between knowledge institutes, the business sector and public authorities, (2) stimulating private R&D spending, (3) investing in fundamental research, and, (4) monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of specific instruments and entreprise and innovation policy as a whole. The top sector policy, the industrial policy, the Quality in Diversity (Kwaliteit in verscheidenheid) strategic agenda on higher education, research and science constitute the policy framework for the fulfilment of the main R&D priorities.
The Netherlands has set itself the target of spending 2.5% of GDP on R&D by 2020. According to the most recent data from the CBS, R&D expenditure in the Netherlands was 2.04% of GDP in 2011, up from 1.85% of GDP in 2010. This increase was mainly the result of an increase in private R&D spending. R&D spending in 2011 by the private sector was 1.07% of GDP compared with 0.89% in 2010.
The national R&I strategy, by the EZ, includes a ‘top sector’ approach. The government has chosen nine ‘top sectors’, which are characterised by strong market and export positions, a good knowledge base, public-private collaborations and a potential to contribute to innovative solutions for societal challenges. Much of the policy measures are aimed at increasing the R&D-intensity of the Dutch business sector, especially in the following sectors:
For each top sector a ‘top team’ of entrepreneurs and researchers has been formed. These have been asked by the cabinet to make concrete proposals for these policy agendas. The results of these proposals has made the Government to focus in tackling, over the next few years, mainly in administrative problems. These will involve improving professional education, removing obstacles to trade, strengthening the infrastructure, scrapping unnecessary rules and ensuring easier access for knowledge workers.
This route of the Dutch policy mix was and is a very important. It includes several of the largest policy measures, including the fiscal incentives WBSO and the new RDA. Obviously, these tax incentives have some relevance for the next two routes. The WBSO was and will remain the main generic policy instrument to stimulate companies to invest (more) in R&D. The complementary RDA scheme will be introduced in 2012. It gives companies a higher tax deduction for R&D investments and R&D exploitation costs. Other (smaller) schemes in this route are the Innovation Credit scheme, the Innovation Performance Contracts (IPC) scheme, Eurostars (Eureka), the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme.
2. Promoting the establishment of new indigenous R&D performing firms
This route is not one of the dominant ones in the Dutch policy mix in terms of budgetary weight. There are several (smaller) programmes, however. The programme Seed capital technostarters reduces risk for VC funds. In 2012, the programme will be taken up in the new Innovation Fund SME+. A complementary programmes is being developed for the later-stage VC market. In addition, the Venture Capital measure gives tax incentives to individuals to lend money to starting entrepreneurs. The Valorisation Grant programme stimulates researchers to start their own business.
3. Stimulating firms that do not perform R&D yet to perform R&D
This route is mainly taken indirectly via measures that subsume under the first route and that are easy accessible. For instance, the WBSO is also available for firms that start to perform R&D for the first time. Syntens Innovation Centre is an important measure for this route. The Innovation Vouchers scheme was discontinued in 2011.
4. Attracting R&D-performing firms from abroad
This route becomes increasingly important, but it is mainly addressed via other routes (especially the first, fifth and sixth). In general, the Dutch government aims to create an attractive climate for R&D intensive firms from abroad in terms of an attractive fiscal climate, an ambitious learning culture and an excellent research climate. Initiatives in this route include the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) and a network of Offices for Science and Technology (TWA network) in various countries. In the new top sector approach, foreign policy will be used to create a stronger ‘brand’ of the Netherlands as an attractive location for talented knowledge workers, R&D investments and R&D-performing businesses.
5. Increasing extramural R&D carried out in cooperation with the public sector
This route no longer benefits from programme-based subsidies and investments from the FES fund. Both have been abolished. In the top sector approach, companies are invited to participate in TKIs and a fiscal scheme (RDA+) will be introduced to give a tax incentive to companies to participate in the TKIs.
6. Increasing R&D in the public sector
This route will remain important in terms of size of public research funding. In the top sector approach, a substantial share of the R&D funding via NWO, KNAW and the PROs will, however, become part of the innovation contracts of the top sectors (cf. the fifth route).