Expanding the reach of Dutch Businesses into Big Science with S2B-PIB – Industry, Government and Institutes team up to improve NL participation

The Netherlands spends more than 100 million euros annually on large internationally funded scientific research institutes and projects. With organizations like the European Space Agency (ESA), for example, most of the Dutch contributions come back to the Dutch economy in the form of industrial contracts, stimulating our economy with business, employment, knowledge and new technologies.

In addition to the benefits to science, the High Tech business sector in particular can benefit from the Netherlands participation in Big Science. In order to share knowledge and maintain innovative strength for science and industry, participation by our High Tech industry in the research, technology development and construction for Big Science projects is necessary. The business sector is often best suited to produce the most feasible technical results, in the realization of these projects.

However, with facilities in France and Switzerland, such as ITER and CERN, the Netherlands does not benefit sufficiently from orders from the Big Science programs in which our country participates, with only about 15-20% of Netherlands science investments returning to Dutch industry. This is especially unfortunate for both industry and science in light of the strengths of the Dutch "Knowledge Economy." The Netherlands is a world class competitor in high tech, high precision technologies, with a reputation for the highest quality results made right the first time. A group of industry members, institutes and government are taking action to improve this low level of industrial contracts.

A government program called Partners for International Business (PIB), of Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO), is an ideal instrument to accomplish this goal. On December 4, a signing ceremony was held to initiate the S2B-PIB, with participating industry cluster including VDL, Boessenkool, Demaco, DeRoovers and MatTech. TNO has agreed to be the PIB coordinator, in its role to boost innovation to Dutch industry and scientists.

On the government side, participants include RVO, the Dutch Embassies in France and Switzerland, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. Collaborative Partners include NWO-I's network of big science Industrial Liaison Officers (ILO-Net) and interested NWO institutes, such as DIFFER and NIKHEF, along with the industry group High Tech NL.

Under the PIB program, a broad based approach to find solutions to expand this Science to Business (S2B) is undertaken. S2B-PIB activities will include communication and coordination between all contributing members on several themes and events. The roadmaps and contract offers of the Big Science facilities will be shared with Dutch industry. The PIB will support strong and consistent Holland Branding, with precision and quality well suited for demanding Big Science applications.

There will be a focus on enhanced participation at conferences and exhibitions where Big Science facilities' representatives are looking for contributors. Incoming international missions of key decision makers will be invited to the Netherlands to highlight Dutch technical expertise. The government will also help gather information and technical roadmaps to allow Dutch industry to plan and know where they can best contribute to the Big Science facilities. Finally, activities will be undertaken to ensure a fair and open access to opportunities for Dutch industry, and a liaison will be hired to spearhead this activity.

The goal of the S2B-PIB is to at least double the Dutch industrial participation in Big Science facilities in France and Switzerland, to gain more at home from Dutch contributions to big science, and deliver more excellent Dutch technical capabilities into the Big Science facilities. With this broad-based approach to increase Dutch cooperation with Big Science, the S2B-PIB members are confident that more Dutch science contributions can be brought back home to benefit our economy and knowledge base, while enhancing the technical capabilities of the Big Science facilities.