“Stimulating collaboration in the water cycle”
Water is designated as one of the country’s top sectors by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. “Besides stimulating collaboration in the water sector we also aspire to have influence in Brussels, so that our research programmes mesh even better with European initiatives,” says Hans Huis in ’t Veld, head of the Water Top Sector Team.
The Water Top Sector consists of three TKIs – TKI Delta Technology, TKI Maritime Affairs and TKI Water Technology – whose purpose is to promote private and public sector collaboration. “Collaboration is absolutely central,” says Huis in ‘t Veld. “Collaboration within the TKI consortia and collaboration among the three TKIs, in the shape of joint research proposals to the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). It is precisely on the edge where the traditional sectors meet and innovation takes place. The TKI scheme has to result in promising new business cases.”
Cross-sector connections also attract Huis in ‘t Veld’s attention. “On a global level, most water is used in agriculture and irrigation. The Water Top Sector must therefore also look at the Agri & Food and Horticulture top sectors, and vice-versa. But there are also overlaps with the Energy sector; think, for example, of offshore wind turbines and the (urban) issues related to water, the underground, infrastructure, installations and buildings. Over the past year, we have been very busy setting up the top sector, but we will definitely direct more of our attention to these connections in the years ahead.”
With a view to exporting Dutch initiatives, the Water Top Sector Team is working with the Export & Promotion Core Team. “We draw up strategic travel agendas for ministers, we’re working on raising our credit-financing and guarantee frameworks to the level of those of other countries, and we’re studying how public entities – like water companies – can break into the European market.” Huis in ‘t Veld also wants to have influence in Brussels. “European policy overlaps precisely with the Dutch top sectors. And given the strong Dutch presence in key positions in Brussels, we can ensure that our research programmes continue dovetailing as much as possible with the large European innovation programmes, such as Horizon 2020.”
© 2018 KWR Watercycle Research Institute