Hi-tech, water and energy main beneficiaries of government cash

The high technology, water and energy sectors are the main beneficiaries of €2bn in government grants as part of the government’s new innovation policy, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Tuesday.

Economic affairs minister Maxime Verhagen said last year the government would invest €1bn a year in nine key areas and the list of contracts published on Monday show wide differences in support.
The energy sector, for example, has won grants totaling €759m over the next two years, while the water sector gets €692m.
Old money
However, much of the life science and energy sectors money appears to be ‘old’ commitments from the health and economic affairs ministry budgets, the FD says. In addition, the water sector is largely controlled by government and semi-government bodies, making large injections of ministerial cash inevitable.
By contrast, the creative sector, another one of the key nine, was awarded just €11m in government aid for 2012 and €18m next year.
The private sector has agreed to contribute €1.8bn a year to top up the government’s €1bn annual investment.
Two years
Nevertheless, industry is concerned that Verhagen has only allocated money for this year and next, the FD states. The ‘top sector’ scheme is due to run until 2015.
Verhagen says he wants to keep his hands free to give money to different companies in subsequent years.
‘We would have liked to have had an idea about 2015,’ said Jan Bout, who represents the water sector in the negotiations. ‘Companies have obligations which run for longer than one or two years.’

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