Self-sufficient ICT top sector crucial for digital transition


Top Sector ICT is corporatising with its own Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI), giving ICT the place it deserves within Dutch innovation policy. Alongside the Knowledge and Innovation Agenda for Digitalisation that came into force on 2 November last, the top sector is now sufficiently equipped to support the digital transition. "Top Sector ICT strengthens the economy with innovations and helps solve societal challenges, such as the energy transition and the circular economy. It is important that the Netherlands remains a leader in the digital world, joining forces and sharing knowledge and expertise. An independent TKI ICT creates much more clout and makes better use of subsidy instruments for its supporters," explains Jeannine Peek, figurehead of Top Sector ICT.

ICT as water

ICT is crucial in the digital transition in all sectors. Yet in 2011, when the top sector policy was rolled out - to jointly design and stimulate innovation and investment - there was no separate top sector for ICT. The idea behind this was that, like water, ICT flowed through everything. ICT was placed as an enabling technology in the top sector HTSM (High Tech Systems & Materials, known as Holland High Tech). For legal, personnel and financial support to develop activities, Team dutch digital delta (the team on behalf of the ICT sector) leaned on Stichting ECP, Platform for the Information Society. In that construction, a number of coalitions emerged, such as the Dutch Blockchain Coalition, Commit2Data, dcypher, the Dutch AI Coalition and the FNS consortium.

How ever managed without it?

ICT is getting more and more attention, in the media and in politics. The (outgoing) Rutte IV cabinet has not for nothing included the digital transition in its coalition agreement alongside the energy and circular transition. In Europe, too, the digital transition is an important spearhead. Yet ICT only now has recognition as a separate top sector, with its own foundation TKI ICT. Chairman COMMIT/ Arnold Smeulders: "It took a while, but now there is a TKI for ICT! ICT, including digital data and AI, drives innovation in almost everything: services and products, industry and society, for the good but also the bad. It is so important that it won't be long before we conclude: how could we ever do without it?"

COMMIT/, the community around the former ICT Research and Innovation Programme, was closely involved in major public-private collaborations in ICT Science from 2011 to 2017. The COMMIT/ foundation also supported various ICT initiatives in the following years, including the launch of the TKI ICT.

Marc Hendrikse, chairman of Holland High Tech, is also pleased with the corporatisation: "In recent years, the Top Sector HTSM has enjoyed implementing public-private partnership programming for ICT. However, from the increased importance of digitalisation, we wholeheartedly support the greater attention that can now be given to this issue from Top Sector ICT."

Arie van Bellen, general director of ECP | Platform for the Information Society, is also pleased that ICT will have its own mature place within Dutch innovation policy. "We are happy that it has come this far. ICT has a huge impact and deserves its own place. ECP is proud to have been able to contribute to ICT's own power as a kind of oil man."


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