Dutch competitiveness Agenda
How can the Netherlands increase its competitive power for 2020?
Results of the Enviu Vision session on 8th of March 2010
• In this document you can find the summary of the results from the vision session on “How
can the Netherlands increase its competitive power for 2020?” , which was held with a group
of 15 young entrepreneurs and professionals from the Enviu Network.
• At the same time we had an online brainstorm of which the results will be presented in a
separate document, together with the results from our social media strategy (which had as
goal to gather input for the vision on the Dutch competitiveness agenda as well).
• We have decided to have both the brainstorm and this document in English, because a large
part of our network is international. Besides, one of the first remarks that came to us as a
comment through our social media was that we, as the Netherlands, could consider to open
up more to international ideas, concepts and people, through for example making English the
language for conferences, meetings, documents, etc.
• We enjoyed working on this theme with our network and have noticed their interest to
become involved in such “a co-creation way” on this subject. We are looking forward to see
how our ‘dreams’ can be translated in an action plan on the 24thof March!
• For any questions or remarks, please contact us at 010-2887970, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summarizing quotes from the session:
“We should focus more on adding value than money”
“We should ask ourselves: what leads to more happiness?’”
“We see decentralisation on all levels: government and business (e.g. food, energy,
even production (3-D home printing), etc.)”
“Is the Netherlands too rich, to be really entrepreneurial?”
“We have the climate and the expertise for developing and exporting good agro-
“The government needs to set 1 extremely ambitious (intelligent) standard: Complete
sustainable cycle. And stick to it for at least 10 years!”
“Let’s become a nation that asks questions instead of just answering them. This leads
to new combinations/ solutions, i.e., innovation.”
“ We need a mentality change: be more proud of what we achieve and dare to ‘stick
our head above the mowing field’.”
“Duurzaam inkopen, duurzaam verkopen en duurzaam investeren: alle transacties
“Reward risk-taking, instead of being so risk aversive. Don’t punish ‘failed’
entrepreneurs. Learn from the failures but do not stop trying.”
Time Subject Details
16.00 Introduction -Introduce main question and objective:
How can NL increase its competitive power for 2020?
Objective: identify focus areas and elements which represent a vision
on the Dutch competitive power in 2020.
-Introduction and background question by Innovation Platform
16.45 Discuss -For whom do we want to increase value? (stakeholders)
starting points -What kind of value should the competitive power create? (identity/
-What are the key elements of the economy we would like to be like
17.10 Identification -What are the current strong assets
themes/ topics -What are the weak elements
-From your expertise and focus what should be interesting areas for the
Dutch economy to develop further?
17.45 Categorization Categorization in 5 top themes
and selection Selection of top 3 and group division
18.00 Brainstorm Get into own theme and identify key elements
part I (mindmap and brainwriting)
18.30 Brainstorm Reflection and imagination 2020
part II Vision formulation: where are we now, where do we want to go?
19.30 Presentations Presentations, analysis/ wrap up and evaluation
Exploring the basic principles of the
economy we would like to have
For whom do we want to increase quality/value
with a vision on competitive power?
We can say ‘we want to create money/value’, but for WHOM do we really want this?
The whole Economy: national and international
For Dutch citizens
Developers/producers and users of technology
Whole world, we should be better but not at the cost of others. If the open
economy is the core to our vision, it would be strange to hurt others: make it a
Focusing only on money would exclude a lot of other people
For a better / more sustainable world
In general: we should have an AND – AND attitude
What kind of value should the competitive power create?
And/ or focus on Non-financial value, like:
o Human capital
o Social value
We should ask ourselves: what leads to more happiness?
Sustainable value (wealth that simultaneously drives us toward a more sustainable
world; or 3-dimensial wealth)
Collaboration and Co-creation (creating great work by standing together with
those for whom the project -vision- is intended)
Congruence (the coming together of the way we make money and the way we
We should focus more on adding value than money
OR could we think in and/and? Value and money
What are the key elements of the economy we would like it to be? - I
Decentralization on all levels: not only on government level, but also on
corporate level and in different sectors as food, energy, production, etc.
Sustainable entrepreneurship: use creative, innovative business organizing to
solve sustainability-related problems through bringing a solution to the market
by creating an efficient organization.
Flexibility: be able to readily adjust to the needs of the time.
Have knowledge as the currency of the future
A high degree of transparency and openness
Level-playing field: all players should be able to compete fairly, play by the
same set of rules
Include all costs and benefits in prices
More inclusive cost/benefit valuation
(A more) Equal distribution of value
What are the key elements of the economy we would like it to be? - II
Technology, but also people who are able to use it. Technology will
eventually be an answer to everything. So far, technology also has
been the cause of all problems. Because of people not being able to
use it optimally (they were not allowed or did not have enough
knowledge/ vision on the possible effects).
We are better at developing knowledge than labor, that’s why we had
such an important role in slavery (production capacity). We can never
beat India/ China regarding (mass) labor so we need to add value in
other areas than production.
What will we focus on today?
What are the weak elements of the competitiveness
of the Dutch economy?
Building, we are not good builders. The Chinese and Brazilians know how to build.
Labour intensive industries
Labour population is aging; high labor costs
Small home market
There is a gap between R&D and technical business development (applying knowledge)
No breakthrough policies
No green industrial policy
Poldermodel used too much: too much talking too little action
We are too risk-aversive, rooted in our calvinism
Absence of status (is both a weak and strong element)
We are too rich (too comfortable) to stimulate entrepreneurism. There are little incentives to
become an entrepreneur
We are not proud of what we do
We do not earn enough money from the Hub location we have as the Netherlands
We should focus more on entrepreneurship and scouting (niches) than creating/ producing
(especially mass production, which is not a good idea when you have so little space)
What are the current strong assets of the Dutch economy/people?
Adding value/complementing others: we are good at adding value and clearly
identifying why we are using it/give context around the product. This drives the Dutch
to push their products/ ideas around the world. There is a difference between
competing with other countries and complementing them.
Strong view on purpose i.e. Value for money
In some production areas we ARE good: e.g. Food and boats. Here we are specialized in
creating high value, NOT mass production.
Highly educated and internationally oriented population
Co-creation method fits well with poldermodel
Creativity > seeing opportunities and developing them
Assembling: bringing necessary elements/ people together
We are travellers and traders, these skills could be used even better
Physical location (gateway to Europe) and logistics
Tradition of cooperation
Absence of status (both weak and strong)
From your expertise and focus, what are interesting areas for the
Dutch economy to develop further? - I
Use human capital and co-creation method more
Money is not per definition the driver
Arts and creative industry (drama, arts, creativity): use this knowledge. NL as a
cultural centre. Our diplomas, compared to other countries, are not going to make
us unique; we have the money and the opportunity to compensate this i.e.,with
arts (it adds value)
Sustainability: long tradition of working for/ with the environment (water/energy),
cradle2cradle, Club of Rome. We have a long tradition of using nature to our
advantage, use that.
Green fiscal and financial systems.
Become a nation that asks questions instead of just answering them to find new
combinations/ solutions, i.e., innovations (more than just inventions!)
Pride, proud on accomplishments, positiveness. Show the younger generation.
This also means to sometimes be content with what we have.
Dutch Entrepreneurial Spirit
From your expertise and focus, what are interesting areas for the
Dutch economy to develop further? - II
Climate and resources: what are our (im)possibilities?
Transport of knowledge and managing it: mainport
Good geographical location: a hub
Become knowledge assemblers
Use international ambassadors to promote NL (the Dutch that have emigrated/are
planning to emigrate)
Branding of it all
From the input on the last 3 questions we have identified the following main
categories the group likes to work on further:
A. Culture/Attitude/Way of thinking (Group 1)
B. Industry/Entrepreneurship (Group 2)
C. Location/Climate/Resources (not chosen)
D. Opportunities in issues (focus on sustainability as potential) (Group 2)
E. Education/Knowledge (Group 3)
For the complete results of the brainwriting exercise see the Appendix.
Most important results have been taken along in the vision statements.
Where are we now?
Where do we want to go?
Education as guide to help you
look for your path
Category Education/ knowledge:
Where are we now?
• It is not as bad as we think, education in the Netherlands is pretty good already, however:
– It still needs to develop further: it should become “great” instead of just “good”.
– There is still much reliance on books, which get outdated by the time the study is completed.
Where do we want to go?
• We need more challenging assignments
– These assignments should be skill-oriented instead of knowledge-oriented. Knowledge gets outdated, thus
focus on for example the skill “to ask good questions, instead of just coming up with an answer”.
– Should be ‘glocal’ (global thinking, local acting), for example: use of software applications that are
connected to a world-wide students community working together from their own home.
• Stimulate an open mind and curious attitude.
• Prevent that a degree set up walls around people. Allow students to develop their own curriculum
and degree, let them be an integral part of the development of their own lessons, curriculum and
• The added value will be the people themselves.
• Education in 2020 will guide students to find their own path and they will be encouraged to
specialize in their own paths.
Knowledge assembly country with a
real sustainable economy
Category Industry/ Entrepreneurship and sustainability:
• The key is knowledge assembly
– Innovation in business model, instead of one specific business group
– Don’t focus on mass production, become specialized in combining elements instead of
– Develop small and specific hightech R&D units (Examples are Apple & TomTom,
companies that bring together existing technologies in a successful product)
• Sustainability has to happen
– In 2020 we invest, sell and handle procurement all100% sustainable. All transactions
sustainable!). We already have a lot of knowledge about how, now it is time to apply.
• Sustainability is still seen as a niche in the market, which needs to change.
– Set clear and much higher minimum tresholds for 2020 to speed up incremental innovation.
• E.g. the deadlines set for car-manufacturers on emission-levels.
• Support incubation for entrepreneurs and facilitate risk-management
– Eliminate the persecution of failed entrepreneurs, which doesn’t mean rewarding failure but
don’t disable them either.
Cultural attitude: From fear to melting pot
Category Culture/Attitude/Way of thinking:
Where are we now:
• Closed, pessimistic, risk avoidance, defensive, insecure, and most of all the key word is ‘fear’, fear for
difference, fear for failure/, fear for taking risk, fear for being different than the norm.
• The current culture is characterised by fear to lose the wealth/ prosperity that we have reached. This leads
to lack of entrepreneurship, defensive beahviour and fear for migrants.
Where do we want to go:
• bubbling, open, diverse, revolutionary, start-ups, collective minded, happy, together, honest, satisfied.
• Use diversity instead of fearing it.
How do we reach that:
The influx of migrants offers an opportunity. They are entrepreneurial and can strengthen the weak points in
Dutch culture. We have to search for cross-pollination between cultures, so that the best element from
different cultures will be combined: A sort of melting pot.
• Make use of Storytelling on the level of the Dutch society to promote this (e.g. After the 8 o.clock news
run a Postbus 51 commercial wtih a story every day)
– Promote individual (and eventually national) success-stories.
– Start as early as possible, e.g. with education/ university, prevent segregration:
– Collect dreams of new generation (even in crèches/kindergartens)
– Switch children after birth?
• Facilitate more contactmoments between people from all cultures/ layers
• Do not focus on regulation, this implies there is an issue and does not inspire. Do we need (quick)
evolution or force by rules?
What stands out?
What should IP do next?
What stands out of the 3 vision statement?
• All foresee and dream of a more open society
• Make use of Co-creation methods
• Break with fears (fear for difference, fear for failure/, fear for taking risk, fear for
being different than the norm)
• ‘Intelligent’ regulation can stimulate at least incremental innovation (give a level-
playing field with a higher treshold, as in the car industry). However, there should
still be room and encouragement for revolution as well (and not only evolution,
can go too slow).
• An idea could be: come up with 1 rule with a high ambition: e.g. “Have a complete
sustainable cycle”. AND stick to that for 10 years.
• Can we find a way to trigger the market/consumers so that they want the right/
sustainable products, isntead of pushing the companies?
• Knowledge assembly
• Making use of diversity
• Govern good marketing about dream/vision culture
• Facilitate Inventions without owners; Match them or promote/show what is there
• Establish Open Source intellectual property rights
Suggestions for the IP what to do next
• Give more thought, dive deeper into the different themes/ categories with experts
in those fields and involve (even more) the stakeholders you are creating this
vision for (co-creation in the process).
• OR: No more thinking and talking, just start doing!
• Pick a top 3-5 of topics/areas. Focus versus covering all topics
• Create the right conditions for innovation/ entrepreneurship, and not say where to
innovate (in which sectors)
• Stress what is already happening and make this public, show this. Be proud and
• Change name of ‘agenda’, this is a set up for a new meeting, not inspiring to let
• Double the budget for education