Cabinet focus on innovation

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The cabinet wants the country’s main economic sectors to conclude ‘innovation contracts with leading research institutes to jointly identify areas where research can lead to better, innovative and competitive products.

This is one of the points in Economic Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen’s business policy which he presented in Leiden on Tuesday.

The main sectors and knowledge institutes such as The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO, The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences KNAW and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO are to submit their joint plans before the end of the year. Minister Verhagen will decide in the spring of 2012 how much money will be available per project.

The knowledge institutes will contribute at least 600 million euros to the various research projects from 2015, but by that time 40 percent from the required funds must have been provided by the business community.

Mr Verhagen earlier identified nine main economic sectors: water, agro-food, horticulture, high-tech, life sciences, chemical industry, logistics and creative industry. The nine sectors presented their plans to the cabinet in June.

The cabinet has adopted many of these plans. Businesses investing will be rewarded with tax breaks. Foreign doctoral students who agree to continue working in the Netherlands will also enjoy tax benefits. And demand from the business community will play a major role in the decision-making process regarding the admittance of new training courses.

From 2015, 310 million euros will be earmarked to improve higher education and increase the number of students graduating from technical studies. Prominent businessmen, politicians and scientists are to help attract foreign businesses. Foreign investments are to generate 3,000 new jobs by next year.

Earlier, the government announced an innovation fund will be created for medium-sized and small businesses. The government also said it would it would stand surety for larger amounts when small businesses need to take out loans.

The Netherlands wants to be among the top five of the world’s knowledge economies. To this end, the government has earmarked 1.3 billion euros from 2012. The amount is to increase to more than two billion from 2015.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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