Oct 23, 2015 | By Alec

While the amount of startups in the 3D printing community is skyrocketing, success isn’t just created through hard work. A healthy economic climate also plays a huge role, as many entrepreneurs will agree upon. According to the Dutch progressive democratic party D66, that is an environment that the state can actively create. In their new policy document ‘Using digital opportunities’, they are calling on the Dutch government to invest millions in the digital sector to create a healthy environment for startups and digital entrepreneurship, which also requires promoting 3D printing technology through Fieldlabs and Fablabs based throughout the Netherlands.

While the Netherlands has an excellent economic presence on the world stage, considering its small size, party D66 is now arguing that the Dutch are actually losing ground compared to other nations in terms of innovation and growth. In their policy document, they refer to the Harvard Business Review, which states that Dutch digital capacity is falling behind other countries like Singapore, Switzerland and Sweden. ‘At the same time, many people are still unemployed and we’re missing out on growth opportunities – which can be especially found in the digital economy. New, innovative companies are especially capable at creating new jobs, while the market they operate in isn’t limited to the nation’s borders. Digital success reaches an international market, and that is an opportunity an open, online economy like ours cannot afford to miss,’ they write.

To ensure that the Netherlands are back in the game by 2030, the party has therefore proposed an interesting seven point plan to reach the top. In part, they are calling for the creation of a fertile environment for innovation, which requires the removal of laws that attack internet freedom and the privacy of people, the creation of safe communication, the modernization of laws and even making digital technologies a part of basic education. For instance, medical innovations involving 3D printed technologies should be financed by the government, they say.

But in particular, this requires transforming the Netherlands into one big innovation laboratory. The country needs, they argue, more digital testing grounds, or so-called Fieldlabs that offer industries and startups the opportunity to develop and test solutions. ‘Big Data and advanced production techniques such as 3D printing have made small-scale production and specific services possible. There’s a demand for locations where companies and institutes can develop smart technology solutions. If we focus on these elements, the Netherlands could become a hub in the smart industry,’ they write.

This focus on Fieldlabs follows a Smart Industry report unveiled last year that announced the creation of these labs, but only one has since been opened. D66 is therefore now calling for ten million to be made available by Economic Affairs to invest in these Fieldlabs, and a further five million in quality Fablabs spread out throughout the country – this latter announcement because only 10 of the 41 existing fablabs are truly functional. These Fablabs are all in need of 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC milling machines and more to enable innovators to function.

Interestingly enough, the party is even calling for the foundation of a startup company called Startup-bv11. ‘With the help of a startup company, young innovators can focus their time and funds on growing their businesses and improving their products. They should be able to apply for tax exemptions on wages, investment and profits, to make them more viable. They should also be given more flexibility when it comes to temporary contracts,’ the policy document states.

To make these policies successful, more investment in innovation is also necessary, they add. The Dutch government previously stated that 2,5 percent of the Gross National Product needs to be spent on innovation and research by 2020, D66 reminds us, but the country isn’t even close. Not only do government-backed pension funds have to start investing in innovative sectors and companies (Dutch Venture Initiative), D66 is also calling for a 10 percent investment of public funds in top industries to be directed to innovation programs. In short, it seems like the party is betting it all on digital innovation and advanced making technologies such as 3D printing. Even if a few of these policies are adopted, Dutch startups should be very happy indeed. The full policy document can be found here (in Dutch).



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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dutchie wrote at 10/26/2015 11:08:47 PM:

The Dutch government should increase the funding for innovation but also learn to spend its money better. The great problem in the Netherlands is that the government is not able to spend money properly. There are a lot of examples. We have had IT fraud. Were billions get wasted on IT projects. The government will just keep spending money, because it cannot accept failure. Th Dutch also have spent a lot of money on buildings for corporations, most of these buildings are now vacant and standing all over the place. In research, when the Dutch government starts the flow of money, it never stops. They don't check whether the projects were successful, but just claim there wasn't enough money or that it was ahead of its time. The government should reward successful researchers and fire unsuccessful; researchers, managers etc and set deadlines. This doesn't happen at the moment. Money is spent almost randomly, which results in some nice findings but also a lot and a lot of waste :).

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