TU Delft: Investment from Growth Fund gives Zuid-Holland economy a big boost

Zuid-Holland’s economy and knowledge and innovation infrastructure will be strengthened thanks to investments from the National Growth Fund announced today by the demissionary government. The money will go towards improving accessibility, Health, Quantum, Green Power and Artificial Intelligence.

Jaap Smit, the King’s Commissioner and chairman of the Economic Board of Zuid-Holland, is pleased with the funding: “This is a recognition of Zuid-Holland’s position as the engine of the Dutch economy, where 25% of the national income is earned. The engine was faltering and now the government, too, is backing the plans of 80 local authorities, companies and knowledge institutions in Zuid-Holland to invest in the regional economy. The whole of the Netherlands will benefit from this.”

Tim van der Hagen, Chairman of the Executive Board of TU Delft agrees. He states, on behalf of the presidents of Leiden University and Erasmus University Rotterdam: “As knowledge institutions, we are pleased with these announced investments from the National Growth Fund. They are badly needed to make better use of the innovative strength and economy of Zuid-Holland, to which we are contributing jointly with knowledge institutions from Rotterdam, The Hague, Delft and Leiden.” Van der Hagen continues: “At the TU Delft Campus, we are working very intensively with industry, governments and other knowledge institutions to strengthen our ecosystems around AI, Health, Quantum, Chemistry and Energy, which also transform the enormous potential of these topics for Zuid-Holland and the rest of the Netherlands into a sustainable, safe and liveable future. Investments in knowledge and innovation, health data infrastructure, the energy infrastructure, but also, for example, public transport, strengthen our regional ecosystems.”

The most important investments in a row:

Improving accessibility
The government has made an initial sum of no less than €1 billion from the Growth Fund available for further development of the public transport. The funds will be used to realise additional rail connections between Leiden and Dordrecht and to strengthen the light rail network in the surrounding urban area. This is a recognition of the importance of public transport for the economy and the growth potential of the region and the Netherlands. And it is an important first step in the realisation of the much-needed expansion of the public transport network, because it plays a crucial role in major social challenges such as housing construction, sustainable mobility, a liveable environment, an inclusive society and economic growth. At the same time, the resources in the Growth Fund are still limited and we cannot use them to pay for all the necessary interventions. This first large reservation by the national government from the Growth Fund gives hope for further investments in the future.

Health
69 million will be made available for a national health data infrastructure, Health-RI. The Zuid-Holland region will be an important node in this infrastructure and researchers from our region will have a coordinating role in the national initiative. The aim of Health-RI is to promote the reuse of health data for research and innovation. This will, for example, enable a trend shift from care to prevention, better diagnosis and treatment of conditions optimised for the individual patient.

In addition, € 56 million will be made available for a pilot factory for regenerative medicine, RegMedXB. 17 million will go to Leiden, where the LUMC, Leiden University, the municipality of Leiden and the province of Zuid-Holland will focus on the development and production of stem cells, among other things; the basis for much regenerative medicine.

Quantum
The Quantum Delta NL programme will receive €615 million from the Growth Fund, which means that 100% of the application has been approved. The objective of the programme is to position the Netherlands as a new Silicon Valley for quantum technology in Europe in the next seven years. The programme includes the further development of the quantum computer and the quantum internet, openly accessible to end users in business and social sectors, including education. It aims for a thriving ecosystem in which talent at all levels is trained and collaborates across institutional boundaries to create a new European high-tech industry. The new national House of Quantum, currently under development, will land in Delft.

‘GroenvermogenNL’ Hydrogen for a green economy
338 million will be made available for demonstration projects and an R&D programme that will accelerate the applications of green hydrogen in, for example, the chemical industry, transport and heavy industry, through innovation and cost reduction. In addition, the associated investment in human capital will prepare the Dutch labour force for the hydrogen economy. This plays an important role for the industrial sector in Zuid-Holland, particularly in the Port Industrial Complex. The knowledge institutes in this region are already working intensively with the industry on these topics. The knowledge that will be developed will make a valuable contribution to the transition to a CO2-neutral society.

Artificial Intelligence
The total Growth Fund contribution for the first phase of AINed amounts to a maximum of € 276 million. Zuid-Holland will be able to benefit from part of this funding for projects in this region. In Zuid-Holland, we are building a ‘real life testing ground for trustworthy AI’, one of the largest AI ecosystems in the Netherlands. Large knowledge-intensive companies, knowledge institutions, startups & scale-ups and governments are working together as an important driving force for AI in the Netherlands.

Renewing the economy
In mid-March, a broad coalition of 80 parties in Zuid-Holland presented the Growth Agenda Zuid-Holland. This agenda is necessary because the region is facing major challenges. Zuid-Holland is home to 20% of the Dutch population, and another 400,000 people will move there in the coming decades. That puts pressure on the housing market, labour market and accessibility. For example, 200,000 new homes must be built in Zuid-Holland. At the same time, 1/3 of the national CO2 emissions come from Zuid-Holland. This is the area where the energy transition must take place. Also, Zuid-Holland’s economic performance lags behind that of comparable regions and high unemployment looms. Because of their magnitude, these Zuid-Holland challenges have national urgency.

Governments, businesses and knowledge institutions in Zuid-Holland are therefore investing € 14 billion in the regional economy over the next 10 years and are urging the national government to join them and invest € 10 billion. The OECD has calculated Zuid-Holland’s plans and concludes that the investments will lead to 12% extra economic growth and 120,000 new jobs.

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