Paul van Gerven
24 January

The Netherlands is losing ground to Belgium and Germany when it comes to R&D investments, states TNO in a report (link in Dutch). Its neighboring countries have steadily increased their spending over the past twenty years, while the Netherlands has shown a prolonged period of stagnation after the financial crisis in 2008. Since 2017, spending has picked up again, particularly following the start of the National Growth Fund in 2020.

The Netherlands’ total R&D spending stands at 2.3 percent of GDP, compared to 3.1 percent in Germany and 3.5 percent in Belgium. Germany started the century with a substantial lead, but levels in Belgium and the Netherlands were similar around the 2000 time frame. Different priorities have resulted in a difference of more than a percentage point.

TNO GDP 2022
R&D spending of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany as a percentage of GDP. Source: TNO, based on data compiled by Eurostate

TNO previously warned that Growth Fund investments are at risk of falling flat if there’s no successor after 2025/2026. Parliament is discussing the earning power of the Netherlands this week. Some parties want to use the Growth Fund to finance measures that have nothing to do with R&D. Others would rather see it shut down altogether.