Rathenau Institute: government to spend billions on extra R&D funding

According to the Rathenau Institute, government spending on research and innovation is set to grow sharply: from 7.3 billion euros in 2019 to a projected 9.2 billion in 2025. But despite this increase, the Netherlands is still lagging behind its European target.

photo Kowit Lanchu / Shutterstock

Each year, the Rathenau Institute publishes an overview of all government expenditure on research and innovation, covering both direct funding and fiscal support measures. The government intends to make significant investments in research and innovation through the National Growth Fund, which will lead to a surge in expenditure in these areas.

Fiscal support

By 2025, the Netherlands plans to spend 6.6 billion euros on direct R&D funding, and an additional 1.2 billion on other innovation spending, such as the development and acquisition of new equipment. On top of that, there will be 1.4 billion euros in fiscal aid.

This fiscal support for innovation is not universally seen across Europe: in relative terms, France spends twice as much on this type of indirect funding, while Germany, Finland and Switzerland offer no fiscal benefits whatsoever.

Half a billion short

Despite the new National Growth Fund, the Netherlands will still fall short of meeting its European target. The EU Member States have agreed to spend 2.5% of GDP on research and innovation (including private funding). In order to achieve this goal, the government will need to allocate an additional half a billion euros by 2025, according to Rathenau.

Compared to the rest of Europe, the Netherlands’ performance is average. Still, other countries such as Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden are on track to meet the 2.5% target. This is partly due to higher corporate spending.

In the Netherlands, the biggest increases will be in funding for universities (300 million euros) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (some 136 million euros, mainly for public-private partnerships). The Dutch Research Council is taking the biggest funding hit, as it will see its budget fall from 804 to 730 million euros.

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