Research policy has failed to stimulate focused excellence

Government policy on research and innovation over the past 10 years has been based on the wrong assumption that as a small country, the Netherlands cannot excel in everything, according to the prestigious Rathenau Institute.

The continual concentration on ‘focus and mass’ has to lead to no real progress, says the institute, which is funded by the education ministry.
‘We are not a small, poor country but an important economy and leading research country,’ the institute’s Barend van der Meulen says in Friday’s Volkskrant.
The researchers looked at more than 260 different areas of research in 200 countries, concentrating on areas the Netherlands has chosen to focus on, such as water management, IT and nano technology.
While the Netherlands does excel in some areas, such as water technology, even here it is outstripped by other countries, particularly in Asia, the report shows.
But in terms of medical research, which is not a focus area, the Netherlands is a leading nation.

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