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Dutch Innovation Platform / Innovatieplatform Nederland: ‘Positioning the Netherlands as Portal to Europe’

Innovation Platform Netherlands / Innovatieplatform Nederland
Amsterdam, Sep 26, 2008
The Innovation Platform wants to position the Netherlands more actively as a ‘Portal to Europe’. A number of members of the IP, including Wiebe Draijer and Bas Verhart, will take this discussion to political and business leaders.

Portal to Europe goes much further than the traditional focus on logistics and goods, taking advantage of initiatives to draw activities and services with a higher added value.
The above is contained in the analysis “The Netherlands in the World” [Nederland in de wereld], which also includes an agenda of change for the Dutch economy. The objective is to make the Netherlands one of the top five in terms of competitive strength. The Netherlands in the World ascertains that the competitive strength of the Netherlands is hard pressed and that the Dutch economy is not healthy enough to sufficiently maintain or improve the country’s historic prosperity over the long term.

Conclusions from the analysis:

• In terms of productivity, growth in recent years has fallen behind that in other regions such as the United States and the Scandinavian countries.
• On average, Dutch businesses perform more poorly than those of other European countries, both in terms of profit level and in terms of growth; on average, the value of companies is lower than that of foreign companies in the same sector.
• The Netherlands does reasonably well among a group of ten leading countries but receives structurally poor results for a large number of factors.

– The current business community is not innovative enough and has too few major growers.
– There is a lack of entrepreneurial spirit in the Netherlands. The number of successful, new entrepreneurs is too small.
– A structural shortage is developing across the board in the labour market.
– The labour market is insufficiently flexible and therefore contributes inadequately to the placement of employees in other new, more productive ventures.
– Too little use is made of the attractive aspects of the Netherlands to draw foreign talent.

• The government is not organised so as to quickly and flexibly respond to and achieve change, and is therefore insufficiently supportive/decisive when carrying out large projects.

Worldwide trends such as globalisation, sustainability, ageing and capitalisation provide many opportunities for the Netherlands. Being the Portal to Europe offers significant opportunities for attracting international companies.

Therefore the Innovation Platform proposes an agenda of change for the Netherlands:

1. Positioning the Netherlands as ‘Portal to Europe’. The Netherlands must shift from being a gateway to Europe toward becoming a portal to Europe. The Netherlands is ideally positioned to take more active advantage of the economic activities of America and Asia in Europe. An active policy is required that removes barriers, better positions ‘The Netherlands’ as a brand and establishes a pro-active attitude toward companies considering expansion into the Netherlands.

2. Renewal as the core. To catch up with the leaders, the following is necessary: 1) renovation of existing companies based on promotion of innovation and ‘working smarter’ with the intention of increasing the productivity of companies, 2) the creation of new companies and promotion of entrepreneurship, 3) renewal of the labour force and labour market by improving the flexibility of the labour supply and a focus on the development and training of talented people, and 4) a government that contributes to the competitive strength of the Netherlands and minimises regulations.

3. Choosing spearheads and key areas. The current Innovation Platform wants to reinforce the six key areas as pillars of growth of our economy. The IP is starting a process of testing and stimulating these key areas to guarantee that progress will be made.

4. Innovative public sector and government. To increase the impact of the government, more efficiency and effectiveness are required, more flexibility, improved cooperation between government entities and lowering of barriers through (reduced) regulation.
Several concrete action points from this agenda:

• Attracting foreign companies
• This year, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Innovation Platform will launch the Make the World Orange contest to give the Netherlands a more prominent position on the world map. The prize for this competition is a substantial budget to actually implement the winning proposal.
• Giving momentum to a joint Netherlands recruiting programme for top international talent. Objective: To attract extra PhD students and post-docs for companies and knowledge institutes every year.
• Summer of 2008 kick-off of the Growth Accelerator [Groeiversneller] programme (IP and Ministry of Economic Affairs). Objective: To support 100 companies in achieving a turnover growth of several million to at least €20 million in five years’ time.
• Autumn kick-off of the Smarter Working [Slimmer Werken] programme. Objective: To make up the deficit in our productivity growth (in comparison to the leading group) by 1% per year.


Contact information:
For additional information about this press release and the Innovation Platform: contact Alwin de Jong +31 (0) 6 11376467 and Maria Henneman, public relations and communications advice, +31(0) 70 427 8677 (tel.) or +31 (0) 6 113 76 550, mh@innovatieplatform.nl.