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Targeted investments in nine top sectors of our economy; tackling bottlenecks that impede the growth of those sectors; making a total of 1.5 billion Euro available to strengthen competitiveness; businesses and researchers at the helm, together with the government.
The Dutch Cabinet chooses nine sectors where the Netherlands is strong because of its location and history - water, agro-food, horticulture, high-tech, life sciences, chemical, energy, logistics and creative industry. In the first place, administrative bottlenecks are tackled, such as improving vocational education, removing trade barriers, strengthening the infrastructure, abolishing unnecessary rules and an easier inflow of knowledge workers.
Secondly, 1.5 billion Euro in the entire national budget, including the existing funds of TNO and NWO, is targeted on nine top sectors. By selecting a limited number of sectors, stronger research institutes are created, which are more attractive to scientists and businesses from the Netherlands and abroad. The 1.5 billion Euro is invested in consultation with businesses and researchers from the top sectors. The result will be a faster conversion of knowledge into innovative products and services.
Tax breaks and venture capital
Instead of the confusion of existing subsidy schemes, all businesses, inside and outside the top sectors, can look forward to tax breaks of approximately 500 million Euro. This will benefit small innovative companies, who used to get lost in the proliferation of complicated schemes, in particular. The Cabinet will also make more use of venture capital. An innovation fund of several hundred million Euro will be set up to provide loans, issue guarantees and to take stakes in businesses. That puts the responsibility for innovative businesses where it belongs - with the businesses.
More regulation, fewer rules
The red tape for businesses will be reduced significantly - in 2012 there will be reduction of 10 percent, and after 2012 the annual reduction will be 5 percent. For example, the compulsory minimum capital of 18,000 Euro for setting up a ‘BV’, a private limited liability company, will be abolished. The fees payable to the Chambers of Commerce will decrease strongly. Businesses only need to provide their data to the government once; the wage slip will be simplified significantly. There will be an end to unreasonable requirements for SMEs and self-employed people in government bids.
The Northern Netherlands is, and has been for a long time, one of the most efficient agricultural regions in the world. This has resulted in a number of leading companies in the areas of dairy (Friesland Foods, now part of Friesland-Campina), starches (Avebe) and sugar (Suiker Unie) and a vast amount of suppliers and adjacent companies. Nowadays, the major players in the industry are putting much effort in R&D in order to further diversify the applications of their products, for instance in adhesives, bio-plastics and bio-fuels.
In 1943, an oilfield was found in Schoonebeek (Drenthe). But more important, in 1959 the largest onshore gasfield in Europe was discovered near the city of Groningen. These two events have led to 2 major companies with their headquarters in our region: NAM (a joint venture between Exxon and Shell) and Gasunie (a state-owned company). Nowadays, the Northern Netherlands has an extensive network of energy-related companies with activities in traditional and renewable energy.
The northern Netherlands has a strong position in the creative industry. The University of Groningen offers numerous courses related to architecture, industrial design, gaming and media and IT. Many graduates stay in the region starting up their own businesses, which has resulted in successful startups. For example Oxxio (the first online power supplier in the Netherlands), Kalooga (a breakthrough picture-search engine) and Catawiki (the online collectors catalogue).
-> Data Centers
The Northern Netherlands has a significant Life-Sciences cluster around the University of Groningen and UMCG, the largest academic hospital in the Netherlands. One of its most important programs is LifeLines, which is gathering data on the correlation between lifestyle, hereditary predisposition, health and life-expectancy on a very large cohort over a long span of time. This nucleus has led to a large number of startups and has attracted many established companies to the region.
Just like the Energy sector, the chemical industry in the Northern Netherlands is based on subsurface supplies of minerals, in this case sodiumchloride and magnesium salts. In 1957, one of the predecessors of AkzoNobel started production of soda. At this moment the Chemiepark Delfzijl is one of the largest Chemical Industrie parks in the Netherlands.
Almost parallel to this, a company called Algemene Kunstzijde Unie started a very large plant in Emmen producing Nylon. This was the start of a chemical park called Emmtec, with a clear focus on the production of fibres.
One of the important needs of the Agricultural industry in the region was clean water and process water. This has resulted in a prosperous water technology industry in the region, which was in turn the reason to form a so-called TopTechnological Researchcenter in the city of Leeuwarden: Wetsus.
High Tech materials and systems
In high tech materials and systems there are two cores of importance in the Northern Netherlands. First one is the result of the massive R&D in conjunction with fibre production (Teijin, DSM and others) and application (Fokker) in the region.
In 1949 Astron was founded, which built the most powerful radio-telescope in the world in the small town of Westerbork. This is combined with a large R&D facility. Astron is currently involved in the development and deployment of LOFAR and the square kilometre array. The R&D which has been done by Astron and local suppliers has resulted in knowledge of sensor technology which can be widely applied. Forerunner of this cluster is Sensor-Universe.