The leaders of 13 major employers, including Akzo Nobel, DSM and Unilever, have written to the government warning that the country’s policy on innovation is falling short, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Thursday.
In the letter, the companies complain they are not getting enough financial support from public-funded research bodies such as the NWO and TNO.
The companies say the procedures are long and complicated and demand such a high academic level there is no question of ‘an industry-led approach’.
This means the government’s decision to focus on a number of key economic sectors is threatened with failure. The aim of the ‘top sector’ strategy is to strengthen the links between industry and scientific research.
The letter was also signed by aerospace company Fokker, dairy group FrieslandCampina, plastics maker Lanexx, chemical companies Lawter and Sabic, biotech firm Pacques, seed producer Rijk Zwaan, Tata Steel and fibre producer Tijin Aramid.
The government’s top sector innovation policy focuses on nine key areas including technology, water and energy, as well as the creative sector. But the strategy has come in for considerable criticism.
In particular, small and medium-sized firms complained they are missing out, and academics fear fundamental research is being neglected in favour of industry-dominated projects.
A spokesman for the NWO institute told the FD: ‘Our job is to finance good, academic research, and that includes within the nine top sectors. It is good science that makes the Netherlands strong.’
A report by the national statistics office CBS in 2011 showed the Netherlands spends 0.88% of GDP on research and development, compared with an EU average of 1.25%.