Dina Boonstra director of NOM
  • Opinion

Dina Boonstra: "The iron is red hot in the North. Time to forge."

Dina Boonstra 2021 01 Dina Boonstra

There has been complaining recently in the Northern Netherlands. The big money once again passed us by, now that the Lely Line is not on the list of projects to be funded from the National Growth Fund. This is certainly unfortunate, but all political parties are now making the case for the fast train connection between Scandinavia and Southern Europe. More importantly, there is so much more. More opportunities, more future and more resources.

Turning resources into action

Now is the time to propel the Northern Netherlands up the ladder of prosperity. We will succeed, if we all do it together. The resources are ready, on all sorts of different shelves. We just have to pull them off ourselves. And we can. As long as we have the right plans and ideas and as long as we take action. The Northern Netherlands has already been allocated half of the Dutch portion of the JTF (Fund for a Just Energy Transition). Then there are the European Recovery & Resilience funds, Respond EU and the national and regional recovery funds. They are there, let's use them.

More sustainable, healthier and smarter

We are already doing this in a number of very promising areas, to make society more sustainable, healthier and smarter. The "Green Power of the Dutch Economy" program focuses on scaling up hydrogen and the application of green electrons in energy-intensive industries. Together, public investments in these components should create a powerful and flexible energy ecosystem that forms the basis for scaling up hydrogen and electrochemistry, and developing new business models. Companies like SkyNRG, Chemcon, Holthausen, Resato and Nedmag are already working on it.


Foodswitch is another sub-area in which the Northern Netherlands is already making its mark. The national project aims to make the Netherlands a leader in making global food production more sustainable by accelerating the scale-up of innovations. The North is making an important contribution in programs within Foodswitch such as biotechnology and breeding, information technology and smart systems. A project like Fascinating in which Cosun, Avebe and Friesland Campina are working together is an example. With every opportunity for SMEs to join.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Another mega-project with a northern slant is the Dutch AI Coalition. That national investment program has the ambition of permanently establishing the Netherlands in the leading group of countries in the development and application of artificial intelligence (AI). The Northern Netherlands already plays a major role in AI. Starting in our own Smart Industry Hub, a collaboration of educational institutions, governments and (indirectly) hundreds of companies with the aim of sharing data, strengthening knowledge and developing autonomous systems. The Northern AI Coalition is also now up and running, and here too SMEs can participate.

Seize the moment, seize it now!

Our part of the country is really not at the back of the queue in distributing recovery funds of a European, national and regional nature. But: government funds will only become available if we ourselves are willing to invest substantially. The NOM can support this. We are happy to help northern companies on their way, especially innovative SMEs that move within one of the promising themes described above. NOM has the resources, especially after a number of nice exits recently, of which Catawiki, Organ Assist and Original-G are examples.

That's why I say to entrepreneurs, "Bring on all those great innovative plans! The momentum is there, the resources are there, the ambition is there. Then we invest and contribute to the important transitions to make the world more sustainable, healthier and smarter.

Dina Boonstra