If the past crisis shows one thing, it is that investing in research and innovation pays off in the long run. In the years following the crisis, for example, the Netherlands was in difficult economic weather, while Germany experienced an unprecedented economic boom thanks to investments in research and development (R&D). What should we do differently this time? And what do we learn from our eastern neighbors? A conversation with Paul de Krum, Chairman of TNO, about the need for research and innovation in times of crisis.
The interview with Paul de Crum cold takes place after the election. The current government parties, VVD and D66, have emerged as the largest in this respect, so it makes sense at least to address the issue. Paul de Krum, amazed at the results?
“The continuation of the current cycle is good news regarding research and innovation in key social issues. It is good for continuity and stability as well as trust in the business community. VVD and D66 are two of the parties that have indicated their belief in the concept of innovation to help us out of the crisis. In cooperation with the business community. It is also absurd to compare the energy transition, to name a few, with the business community. The same applies to other major issues at the present time, such as climate, health or digitalization. So I am optimistic from this point of view. ”
Investing in innovation pays off
Investing in innovation and research should not only help us out of the crisis, according to De Chrome, but it is also the best long-term solution. “After all, it has been proven that every euro spent on investment in science and innovation ultimately produces the multiplier,” says Paul de Krum. “An increase in the euro in research and development will increase the size of our economy by at least 4.5 euros in the long term, according to an analysis of V. Growth letter from Cabinet Of December 13, 2019 regarding the Netherlands ‘long-term growth strategy.’
Germany has a long tradition of research and development. They also have a really industrial culture. This is really in their genes, while in the Netherlands we are more business people.
Paul de Krum, TNO Chairman
As a champion of investment in research and development, Germany is a shining example, as the report has already shown ‘A persistent innovation country study“The Advisory Board for Science, Technology and Innovation (AWTI) after the financial crisis. Compared to Dutch investment which amounted to only 0.88% of GDP in 2009, our eastern neighbors invested at least 2.2 times in research and development. Thanks to this approach, Germany was able to exit Stronger than the crisis According to the report, there were three leading aspects: 1) long-term goals, 2) perseverance, and 3) financial strength.
What is the basis of this difference between Germany and the Netherlands? De Krom: “Germany has a long tradition in research and development. They also have a really industrial culture. This is really in their genes, while in the Netherlands we are more commercial people. The fact that Angela Merkel has a background in science helps.”
Major social issues at the moment, such as climate, energy transition, digitalization or healthcare: You can’t break it down across sectors. After all, they are all connected. This requires not only an integrated approach, but also cooperation at all possible levels: regional, national as well as with the business community. As a small frog nation, you cannot come up with solutions to such comprehensive and far-reaching issues on your own.
De Krom believes the European Green Deal is a good example of this, which should speed up the approach to dealing with climate and energy issues. However, in the context of “good neighborliness is better than faraway friend”, he considers cooperation between neighboring countries very important as well as uniting forces in Europe.
“For example, it is completely natural for you to coordinate your energy systems. For example, at TNO we work with Germany on smart energy infrastructures. We do research on hydrogen with Germany and France. However, we also work with our neighbors on topics such as digitization and industry.” “Smart and mobility solutions, such as developing alternative fuels for the large auto industry.”
Collaboration works better
However, cooperation with and between government, knowledge institutions and, Last but not least, The business community cannot be stressed enough regarding De Krom.
“For example, within the Holst Center at TNO, we work with all kinds of limbs on technology for all kinds of medical applications. Such as developing flexible materials and sensor technology for monitoring systems, smart spots and also a belt around the abdomen for Monitor pregnant women. “
Another healthcare partnership is the Dutch Innovation Center for Lifestyle Medicine ‘Lifestyle for HealthIn which TNO and UMC Leiden are represented. “For example, we are doing research on how to better prevent and treat 2 diabetes through lifestyle measures.”
Finally, data linking in healthcare is an important topic that, according to De Chrome, deserves the necessary attention. “This is a technique by which a large amount of data can be analyzed in the healthcare field. To access what are called“ predictive analytics. ”However, without compromising patient privacy. Privacy issues take TNO very seriously anyway. This is exactly why TNO works. On improving the encryption of patient information over Multilateral account. “
According to de Krum, the cooperation is also the basis for the greening of the manufacturing industry in Jilin, where there is a focus of large chemical groups.
“Arnold Stokking, who took the lead from ENZuid, does not come from TNO completely by accident. He understands exactly what is needed for such an enormous task. It is wonderful that such an initiative is being adopted by the government, knowledge institutions and the business community.”
Coordination of innovation
Consequently, the success of these innovative technologies stands or falls with generous investments in research and innovation as well as collaboration with the business community. As the Germans showed in the previous crisis. And where would the Netherlands, if it were up to Chrome, take an example. Let this be where TNO can lend a hand.
Take hydrogen development for energy transfer, for example. This is only possible on a large scale. So you need all kinds of partners who can commercialize such technology. TNO can make the connection, create ecosystems, and ensure the participation of the business community. After all, to go from a scale model to a pilot plant, you need partners who are willing to invest in it. Through the knowledge and experience we possess in-house, we can help scale these innovative technologies. To this end, we have an extensive network of chain partners. It is not without reason that “connectivity” is fundamental to TNO. And we are talking about “innovation regulation”. “