In the first round of the National Growth Fund, money goes to green hydrogen, digitisation of education and the development of quantum technology.
That is the opinion of the committee appointed by the Cabinet to help determine what the investment money should be spent.
This year we are talking about just over EUR 4 billion for ten projects aimed at stimulating economic growth.
“ We need to invest in the Netherlands tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, in order to maintain our facilities for the next generations,” said Minister Hoekstra of Finance at the presentation. “And we‘re creating jobs that don’t even exist yet.”
Among the selected projects are: green hydrogen, AINed (artificial intelligence), QuantumDeltanl (quantum technology for secure networking and communication), two educational projects (digital applications for lessons and school advice), Health-RI (data networks between hospitals), RegMed XB (new medicine based on gene and cell therapy).
Also, money, more than 2.5 out of 4 billion, goes to major public transport projects. It concerns the bus, tram, metro and light rail infrastructure near The Hague and Rotterdam, the extension of the Nord/Zuidlijn metro route from Amsterdam Zuid to Schiphol and a public transport project in Eindhoven (self-propelled buses over a new bus lane).
The interest was great, said committee chairman Dijsselbloem. “We received requests worth €25 billion for this first round, while 20 billion is available for five years.”
Thus, from 2021 to 2026, the Cabinet will spend a total of 20 billion on investments that contribute to economic growth. The Growth Fund focuses on three areas: knowledge development, physical infrastructure and research, development and innovation.
The independent committee assesses which projects with extra money can make a major contribution to economic growth. The committee only gives advice. The Cabinet can take over that, but also resign it. The House of Representatives can also block investments.
For most of the projects, the amount has only been set aside. They have to come up with an extra foundation before they actually get the money.
Research organization TNO writes in a response that the proposals of the advisory committee “testify to vision for the long term”. The Dutch AI Coalition also welcomes the support for artificial intelligence from the National Growth Fund.
Entrepreneurship association Evofenedex is less satisfied. The interest association for logistics entrepreneurs is concerned at a time when no money from the fund goes to freight transport. “A lot of infrastructure is at the end of its lifetime.”
The municipality of Utrecht is also disappointed. Together with the province, Utrecht had requested €2.1 billion for two tram lines and a new train station. But the committee said the plan was too bulky. “It is a shame that we are not here now,” says Alderman Van Hooijdonk. “Without this investment, the heart of the Netherlands is faulty.”