The meeting was scheduled because of the technical universities’ concerns about the extent, quality and international position of fundamental technological research in the Netherlands. The universities indicated that funding for research is under pressure. According to the 3TU.Federation this is largely due to declining expenditure by companies and the loss of subsidies. Furthermore, preparatory activities for the transition to the top sector policy and, at European level, the run-up to the Horizon 2020 programme are taking up more time, as a result of which new resources only become available at a later stage. The 3TU.Federation believes it important that the related decline of young researchers will not degenerate into fewer incentives and less attraction for top scientific potentials. In view of its significance for future economic activity, the opportunities available for ensuring the continuing quality of this type of research were discussed with Minister Kamp.
Both the Minister and the 3TU.Federation believe that the top sector policy is a key factor in the economic recovery of the Netherlands and that it will contribute to maintaining the country’s top five position in the list of most competitive economies. An element of the top sector policy is providing additional resources for fundamental research (€ 150M per year), programming of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) resources (€ 275M per year) for top sectors and an additional stimulus for public-private cooperation in the form of a Top Consortia for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI) allowance (€ 200M per year). Part of these funds will be used to ensure successful acquisition of resources from Europe.
It is anticipated that these impetuses for research will also contribute to research funding at the three technical universities. Technological foundation STW is viewed as particularly well equipped to play a role in the programming of fundamental research in the context of the top sector policy.
It has been agreed that the 3TU.Federation will be kept informed of developments and where possible involved in determining the way these resources are to be deployed. A follow-up meeting is planned for the beginning of April.