Venlo, The Netherlands, – "In June, the top teams of our new spearhead sectors will present the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs with a package of measures and opportunities to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in their sector and the emergence of networks and cross border cooperation."
This commitment was delivered today by Chris Buijink, Secretary-General of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, during his keynote speech at the Van der Grinten Lecture. This annual event is named after the founding fathers of Océ, an international leader in digital document management and delivery. The Van der Grinten Lecture is hosted by Océ, Maastricht University and the Municipality of Venlo, where it was held today for the sixth time.
Addressing approximately 180 captains of industry, academics and other guests on the theme of 'Government and Innovation in Times of Change,' Buijink commented on what the government can do to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability and the emergence of innovative networks.
"Innovate, grow and invest"
"The answer is threefold," Buijink said. "First, by giving entrepreneurs the space they need to run a company, to innovate, grow and invest. Second, by meeting companies' demands for a good knowledge infrastructure. And third, by helping companies to gain a stronger position on international markets."
Cut red tape, provide R&D facilities
Buijink, a seasoned senior civil servant who started out in the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the '80s, underlined the need to cut red tape and provide research & development facilities in sectors in which The Netherlands excels. "We have picked nine spearhead sectors," he explained. "Creative industries, logistics, life sciences, energy, water, chemistry, horticulture, agro food and high tech. For each of these, we have installed a top team, composed of a figurehead in the sector, a scientist, an executive or an innovative entrepreneur of a small or medium-sized enterprise."
Economic diplomacy and open innovation
In a globalizing world with emerging economies and new markets, international competition is fierce. Buijink is convinced that this competition can best be withstood by partnerships and open innovation in networks. "Companies in such networks must also be streetwise on international markets, provided institutional and cultural barriers can be overcome. Especially in countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China, governments are playing a major role in this respect. They are also doing so in strategic sectors such as water, energy and high tech. That is why economic diplomacy has also become a major element in developing the policies for our new spearhead sectors."