Netherlands AI Coalition pleased that backing from the National Growth Fund will let it achieve its aims

Published on: 9 April 2021

Kees van der Klauw, the coalition manager at NL AIC: “We’re delighted to have been told that our AiNed programme has been put forward by the advisory committee and that Phase 1 of the AiNed programme has largely been accepted by the council of ministers – a superb result! It is a multi-year programme to accelerate the development and application of artificial intelligence (AI), which will let the Netherlands reap the economic and social rewards of AI and keep pace with other leading countries. A lot of hard work has been done on this plan by the participants in the NL AIC and it’s not been in vain. We are proud of that and are now looking forward to achieving these goals together.”

Economic growth and recovery

AI is a burgeoning field of technology that is capable of having a huge influence on our society and all elements of the economy. The impact of AI over the coming years will only increase. AI applications that are already being used include improved medical diagnoses and treatments, reducing pesticide use, energy savings, better crime-fighting, cheaper road maintenance (and bridges and railways), more efficient production and transport of goods.

Mona Keijzer, the State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Change: “Innovation focused on digitization, increased sustainability and health has immediately been given a prominent place right at the start of the National Growth Fund. That’s good for everyone in the country. After all, research and development are the key to sustainable growth and therefore for our jobs and our income in the future. The government also needs to be actively providing large-scale public funding so that research, innovation and technology can develop further, start-ups can grow, talented individuals can be attracted and innovation can be retained in the Netherlands. This will all strengthen our international position. I see major opportunities for the various companies, centres of expertise and authority bodies that are involved and working together here to rise to the challenge.”

Aims of the AiNed programme

To strengthen the position of the Netherlands and to make the most of the opportunities, a long-term programme called AiNed has been drawn up by the Netherlands AI Coalition, a public-private consortium that over 400 organizations are involved in. A strong and well-organized approach such as this can drive significant growth in the Dutch gross domestic product (GDP, potentially 1.6%). It is a contributory factor to the strong growth in the numbers of companies investing in AI and applying it. The AiNed programme promotes the beneficial social effects of AI by using responsible and human-oriented AI applications that help push the European goals forwards.

Cees Oudshoorn, general manager of VNO-NCW/chair of the NL AIC Strategy Team: “There is an excellent plan for getting the Netherlands up among the world’s best in terms of AI and ensuring that we can benefit from it in social and economic terms, doing so in a European way – with an eye out for public interests, focusing on the people and cooperating closely with scientific and authority bodies and with the commercial sector. We are proud of the fact that the Cabinet and the National Growth Fund’s advisory committee have realised this and that we can rely on financial support. It is now down to all the participants in the Netherlands AI Coalition to do our utmost to implement the targets and plans over the coming years.”

Excelling with AI in the things the Netherlands is good at

The allocation of 276 million euros from the National Growth Fund (for which fine-tuning is still needed on various points and as yet undefined conditions will apply) means that the AiNed programme can start efforts in large-scale projects to tackle five bottlenecks. It is a unique self-learning and integrated approach throughout the chain in which human-centred AI is paramount and the work is done jointly by numerous parties: government, education and research, business, civil society and the public. The bottleneck areas for successfully applying AI in the Netherlands are innovation, the knowledge base, the employment market, society and data sharing. The projects aim to attract and retain talented individuals in AI, train students and employees, and accelerate the development and application of AI. A key difference will be the way consortiums of parties in the supply chains and elsewhere are being brought together to cooperate on knowledge and innovation specifically for fields of application for and technological domains for AI in which the Netherlands stands out internationally.

To allow this AiNed programme to be carried out, a single nationwide AI innovation ecosystem is being created that fits in neatly with European initiatives and has a strong foundation of AI hubs (regional clusters for research and innovation) and connecting spokes (the affiliated centres of expertise). These parties are collaborating on subjects of common interest and are taking leading roles in specific strong application areas, working together with the NL AIC. Additionally, the whole value chain will be involved and strengthened.

More information about the AiNed programme can be found on this page.

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