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The Netherlands

The Dutch economy is doing very well and is among the world’s top 10, with leading sectors that can compete on a global basis. For example, the Dutch industry is particularly strong in providing tailor-made work based on an intensive customer relationship, but it certainly has excellent companies in mass production as well. In the area of digitisation, the Netherlands has numerous companies at the forefront. But behind this leading group there is still a world to be captured. A survey has shown that a significant number of entrepreneurs are still relatively uninformed about the upcoming digital revolution and its implications for their business.

This is consistent with the figures from the World Economic Forum. The Global Information Technology Report 2014 shows that while the Netherlands is doing extremely well in ICT, the adoption of new technology can be improved. It can also be noted that ICT is being used more by companies in their contacts with consumers than for business to business transactions. The survey and the many workshops that have been organized show that entrepreneurs see a variety of challenges. Two challenges can be singled out: (1) how can companies collaborate effectively and are they organized in chains and networks that make optimal use of data? and (2) how do companies develop new Smart business propositions with the deployment of new and state-of-the-art technology and knowledge?

The Dutch government is very active (e.g. Netherlands Enterprise Agency ( and encourages entrepreneurs in sustainable, agrarian, innovative and international business. It helps with grants, finding business partners, know-how and compliance with laws and regulations. The aim is to improve opportunities for entrepreneurs and strengthen their position. This Agency works at the instigation of ministries and the European Union. Netherlands Enterprise Agency is part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The organization has been in existence since 2014 and is the result of a merger between NL Agency and the Dienst Regelingen. Netherlands Enterprise Agency focuses on providing services to entrepreneurs. It aims to make it easier to do business using smart organisation and digital communication. The Agency works in The Netherlands and abroad with governments, knowledge centres, international organisations and countless other partners.

One of the programs of the Dutch government which is supporting IoT innovation by giving grants and subsidy is called PPS (formerly TKI). In the Top Consortiums for Knowledge and Innovation, public and private parties collaborate in projects research and innovation. Nine top sectors are involved: Agriculture & Food, the Chemical Industry, the Creative Industry, the Energy Sector, High Tech Systems and Materials, Life Sciences & Health, Logistics, Water and the Horticultural and Starting Materials sector. The Dutch government encourages cooperation between entrepreneurs and researchers within the TKIs, with a bonus of 25 per cent on top of the private contributions to research organisations. This pertains to long-term collaboration projects and TKI-relevant research contracts between companies and universities, the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research, the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts and Sciences, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, the Agricultural Research Service, the Large Technological Institutes and universities of applied sciences. As an extra stimulus, SMEs receive a bonus of 40 per cent for the first € 20,000 in private contributions to a research organisation in collaboration projects. The PPS bonus is allocated to the TKIs, which also determine what the bonus will be used for. This involves new public-private collaboration projects in the field of research and development, or the stimulation of innovation activities that are mainly aimed at increasing the involvement of SMEs in R&D.

Automotive and Transport

The ‘ITS plan The Netherlands 2013-2017’ aims to provide better real-time traffic and warning information and the introduction of eCall. Also, a number of pilots are conducted in the Netherlands under the FREILOT project, for example in Helmond with connected trucks that gain additional information about traffic lights they approach or even get priority at some traffic lights to increase traffic efficiency. This paragraph focuses on applications in cars and transport systems.


The Dutch Action Agenda Smart Industry stresses the importance of strengthening the foundation of knowledge, skills and ICT parameters and it carries out research programme aimed at the development of software tools, with a view to chain cooperation, standardization and interoperability, and building on a robust and secure ICT infrastructure for Smart Industry.


In the Netherlands, there is a network of about 100 air quality measuring stations that are spread throughout the country. However, with the advent of cheaper sensors and programmable hardware modules it is now possible for people to have access to measurement equipment themselves. In a project in Amsterdam a Do It Yourself ‘Smart Citizen kit’ for air quality measurement is offered to hundreds of people. The system, based on Arduino and open source software, includes sensors that measure humidity, noise, temperature, CO, NO2 and light intensity in a neighbourhood. Once the kit is put together, the sensors are placed outside windows or on balconies and connect to the internet using Wi-Fi. The data is collected on a central server, creating a fine-grained network of (citizen owned) pollution sensors. The ‘Smart Citizen’ project is an example of how IoT, due to cheaper sensors and the availability of communication networks (using people’s Wi-Fi), can help citizens to be better informed and to actively participate in their community.


Long-term illnesses In the Netherlands (with a population of 17 million) there are over 5 million people with some chronicle illness, of which approximately 50 percent need some form of medicine, care or attention on a regular basis. It is to be expected that most of those will in the future be aided in their daily lives using IoT-technology, in the form of both sensors monitoring their specific condition, and smart technology to streamline medicine intake.

Examples include Smart Wireless Pill Boxes that remind patients to take their medicine based on the prescription, for example using audio-signals, connection to a smartphone-app or SMS. ‘Smart injection tracker’ for diabetes patients (approximately 800.000 in the Netherlands) that connects insulin pens to smartphones using Bluetooth. The application collects the data and forms a database, so that injection history can be accessed later and can be shared with the doctor if needed. And wireless heart monitors for arrhythmia patients (around 300.000 patients in the Netherlands) that collect and store data of the heart (ECG) and send it to mobile external monitor device.


Besides facilitating to its residents, cities facilitate many visitors from outsides. IoT is bringing new features to allow this to happen. Personalised and real-time tourist information, based on, and adapted for, the needs of a specific tourist, can make a city attractive. The City of Amsterdam plans a pilot “iBeacon and IoT Living Lab” in 2016/2017 that uses Bluetooth based iBeacons for personalised direction information combined with other information on your smartphone. The plan is to create a zone in which the application will guide tourists and users to relevant locations, using points of interest and location information of the user. In the future dynamic (real-time) signs can be programmed to show personalised location of special events, public transportation, or other relevant information. Ideas are for example ‘Pointsigns’ that rotate to show visitors the way to go. The signs are programmable and use internet connectivity (using Ethernet or wireless connectivity using for example LTE). This project gives an idea what personalised dynamic road-signs might look like in the near future.


The Netherlands has a major initiative on industry4.0 called SmartIndustry started by joint collaboration between TNO, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, VNO-NCW and the Chambers of Commerce.

The “Smart Industry, Dutch industry fit for the future” report describe potential threats such as hacking and information theft, both positive and negative aspects of internationalization and standardization. The resulting Dutch Action Agenda Smart stresses the importance of strengthening the foundation of knowledge, skills and ICT parameters by development of technical solutions, business models and forms of cooperation that simplify the exchange and use of data.

The ambition of Smart Industry is a strong Dutch industry that grows and creates jobs. The digitisation of industry offers the Dutch business community great opportunities to remain competitive in a new era of global competition. The Action Agenda supports the business community in that ambition. The Action Agenda is an enhancement of the current Dutch top sector policy and the Technology Pact. The aim is to make the industry more competitive through faster and better utilisation of the opportunities ICT has to offer. Three key pillars: capitalising on existing knowledge, accelerating in Field Labs and strengthening the foundation.