The Netherlands spent 0.88% of gross domestic product on research and development in 2009, well below the EU average of 1.25%, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.
The gap, which has grown steadily since 2000, is explained by the Dutch economy’s switch to service industries, which are less R&D intensive than traditional industry, the CBS said.
The Netherlands, Sweden and Britain were the only EU countries where spending on R&D was lower in absolute terms than in 2006, before the financial crisis.
But Sweden is still one of the biggest spenders. Finland tops the EU list, with R&D spending accounting for 2.8% of GDP. Germany spends nearly 2%.
Earlier on Monday, economic affairs minister Maxime Verhagen said he wanted to give small firms more room to grow into stock exchange-listed firms like satellite navigations systems maker TomTom.
In particular, he wants to reduce the administrative burden on small firms and make it easier for them to compete for government contracts, Verhagen said in an interview with website nu.nl
The minister also praised other CBS figures out on Monday which show 12% of the Dutch are considered to be entrepreneurs, compared with 10% of Americans.
The figures show the Netherlands emerged from the financial crisis in a relatively strong position with low unemployment.
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