Encouraging innovation

The government supports companies that develop innovative products through tax benefits, innovation credit and grants. There are also a number of EU grant schemes for innovation.

Innovation creates opportunities

Innovative businesses can help develop solutions to major social issues like global food security, ageing populations or life-threatening diseases.

By developing new products they can also gain access to new markets. Innovation boosts economic growth and creates jobs. That’s why the government provides financial support for innovative enterprise. So businesses can bring their innovative products and services onto the market more quickly.

Investing in top sectors

The Netherlands' innovative top sectors are among the world's best. The government wants to further strengthen their international position. The Netherlands has nine top sectors:

  • Horticulture and propagation materials
  • Agri-food
  • Water
  • Life sciences and health
  • Chemicals
  • Hightech
  • Energy
  • Logistics
  • Creative industries.

Top Sector Alliance for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI)

The government, private sector, universities and research centres are working together in the Top Sector Alliance for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI) to make top sectors even stronger. The alliance looks for ways to get innovative products or services onto the market.

Encouraging top sector innovation

The government is encouraging innovation in top sectors in the following ways.

National Icons Competition

Every two years, the government selects several projects or products as winners of the National Icons Competition. These projects and products show how Dutch innovations are among the world’s best. The winner entries all address major socialissues.


The Innovation Expo is an event held every two years that aims to accelerate innovation. The Innovation Expo in spring 2016 will highlight the Netherlands EU Presidency. The Innovation Expo is also an innovation network comprising 3,000 representatives from the private sector, public bodies and knowledge institutions. They work together on innovations and technological breakthroughs.

‘VolgInnovatie’ database

The ‘VolgInnovatie’ database is managed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. It provides information on the money the Ministry of Economic Affairs spends on various projects.

National Science Agenda

The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ National Science Agenda identifies focus themes for scientific research in the years ahead. It looks at questions like: What areas hold promise for the Dutch science sector? How can science help find solutions to social issues? How can science create economic opportunities for innovation?

Innovation Attaché Network

Innovation attachés are based at Dutch embassies and consulates. They assist Dutch companies doing business abroad. For instance, by introducing them to potential partners, like research institutions or other companies.

Smart Industry

The Smart Industry initiative aims to strengthen Dutch industries by promoting the use of cutting-edge IT and technology, like 3D printing, nanotechnology and robots.

Innovative Future Fund

Through its Future Fund the government is making additional money available for innovative SMEs and vital research for the future. From 2018 the fund will make €5 million available annually. Its initial capital will be €200 million.This money is included in the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ 2016 budget. In 2020 the entire fund will be reviewed. 

A single tax credit scheme for research and development (R&D)

In 2016 the two main tax arrangements for commercial research and development will be combined. The RDA and WBSO research and development tax credits will be brought together in one scheme that will offset R&D tax credits against salaries tax. The government hopes this will make the scheme more effective and simplify the application procedure for businesses.

The budget for this scheme will be increased by €100 million in 2016 and by €115 million in 2017. This money is included in the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ 2016 budget.

Web-site: https://www.government.nl/topics/enterprise-and-innovation/contents/encouraging-innovation

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