Multinationals say Netherlands lacks political decisiveness
March 29, 2007 Leave a Comment
Political indecisiveness and mediocre education are the greatest threats to the innovation climate in the Netherlands. The conclusion is voiced by executives of DSM, Philips and Unilever in employers organisation VNO-NCW’s magazine Forum.
Chemicals concern DSM has been occupied for 18 months with setting up a national programme intended to give the Netherlands a leading position in research into combating heart and vascular diseases, kidney diseases and cancer. Half of the needed 120 million euros has already been promised by the 25 participants including DSM itself. The economic affairs and science ministries were also enthusiastic. The only problem is that the cabinet has still not made a decision. “I find it very sad that the process is going so slowly. I am at the point where I think: should I just try it in a country where everything goes a bit quicker?” says DSM executive Jan Zuidam.
Electronics group Philips, the Dutch company that spends the most on research and development (R&D), is successfully selling components for smart cards in China, with which, for example, public transport can be paid for. “It is a Dutch discovery. We could introduce it here just like that. But what do we do? We first want to investigate yet again whether it works, while millions of Chinese benefit from it daily. I simply do not understand that,” says R&D leader at Philips, Rick Harwig.
Food-to-detergents giant Unilever can also give examples of indecisiveness. The three companies also consider that education in the Netherlands has deteriorated in recent years. Harwig of Philips: “I miss enthusiasm among children. Students often miss basic knowledge in the area of mathematics and exact professions. And then they ask us – the companies – whether we will contribute to the costs of brushing up on this. Of course that is irritating.”
It is important for large companies to be able to attract ‘knowledge workers’ from abroad quickly, added Harwig. “We must simply be flexible about this. So not today’s nonsense, whereby we do allow a Chinese to get a doctorate here, but subsequently work him out of the country as quickly as possible. That means you get the costs, but not the rewards.”
Source: NIS News, 29 March 2007