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Dutch innovation policy scattered between valleys, deltas and campuses

THE NETHERLANDS. There are over 220 different initiatives under way to put either the Netherlands or a specific region on the map as an innovation hot spot, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday.

But lack of cohesion and small scale of some of the initiatives means their international impact will be limited, urban economist Frank van Oort told the paper.

Valleys, deltas and campuses are the most popular tags for innovation projects, the FD said. Drunen, for example, has a Metal Valley project, which is supposed to turn the Noord-Brabant town into an ‘innovative focal point’ for the metal and engineering sectors. Eindhoven has developed a ‘Photon Delta’ and Leeuwarden has a Dairy Campus.


The initiatives are not lacking in ambition, the paper points out. The New World Campus in The Hague describes itself as ‘the place where game changing solutions will be found for the international and local challenges we face’.

The Clean Mobility Center in Arnhem aims to develop into a ‘leading top centre in Europe’ in the field of ‘sustainable mobility’. Delft is positioning itself as the hotspot for biofuels – an ambition shared by the northern provinces and Brabant, the FD said.

Van Oort says this fragmented approach is worrying. ‘We don’t have the space for so many valleys and campuses,’ Van Oort said. ‘We need to be more selective to compete with abroad. Not every initiative can be a winner.’

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