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Societal Challenges

Societal Challenges

How can we make sure that everyone has access to healthcare, and can afford it? How can we stop climate change? How do we turn waste into valuable resources? And what can we do to stay one step ahead of digital threats? Every sector of the economy, including the various Top Sectors, faces its own societal challenges, and ICT innovations are an important part of the solutions. Some of the situations are connected, however, and by working together more closely and sharing our understanding of innovative solutions we can make the Netherlands future-proof.


Frits Grotenhuis


Topsector ICT

From agriculture and healthcare to education, logistics and science: ICT is vital to every sector of the economy. Some of the challenges and opportunities are very specific, but often the separate sectors can also learn from each other. This means companies, knowledge institutions and government agencies working more closely together and sharing their understanding of innovative ICT solutions: only then will the Netherlands become future-proof. The Government has identified four societal themes: Energy Transition & Sustainability, Agriculture, Water & Food, Health & Healthcare and Safety.

Soaring ambitions

The EU has set itself the target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. This has been formalised in the European Climate Law. The Netherlands is going further, and hopes to lead the way in sustainability, for example by cutting the volume of raw materials used in half by 2030 and realising a sustainable and fully circular economy by 2050. This involves a vital role for key enabling technologies, as they are commonly known, including the theme of Agriculture, Water & Food, where the targets are very ambitious: a net climate-neutral system of agriculture and nature by 2050. By 2030 the country should be producing and consuming food using safe, healthy and sustainable methods, with fair prices for every partner in the supply chain – including farmers. On top of this, the Netherlands wishes to retain its status as the world’s best protected and most habitable river delta.

During the decades ahead, the Netherlands will also face a series of complex healthcare challenges, caused in part by the ageing population, and ICT innovations will play a vital role in ensuring that everyone has access to healthcare, and can afford it. Lastly, the Netherlands should be a safe place for everyone to settle, work and live. This requires a proactive mentality and an innovative approach to overcoming potential threats.

Energy Transition

The Netherlands must be climate neutral by 2050. The energy transition to a sustainable society requires a huge effort from all parties. ICT key technologies can make a fundamental contribu...

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Health and care

Our healthcare system is under pressure: large groups of Dutch citizens are not getting the care to which they are entitled. Care is often too expensive and scarce. The Netherlands thus faces compl...

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Agriculture, Water and Food

The Netherlands is a leader in Agriculture, Water and Food, and has huge knowledge and innovation potential. It needs to achieve this potential, because we are facing some major societal challenges...

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The Netherlands must remain a secure country for its citizens to live, work and play in. However, a secure society cannot be taken for granted. Our country and the rest of Europe face a number of c...

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Drawing on ICT to overcome challenges

Consider the energy transition. Smart networks are being used to optimise supply and demand in the use of energy sources to prevent peak loads. The agricultural sector also uses digital solutions: smart irrigation and precision farming mean much greater efficiency, and so lower costs and less environmental impact. Public health is being impacted by early diagnosis and patient-specific treatments that are made possible through the use of smart algorithms. And autonomous networks (including ICT networks) are a key parameter for safety and cybersecurity in the Netherlands and the country’s defences.

Dutch organisations need to move forward all the time: by innovating, by developing new and better products and services, by looking further ahead to identify solutions and creating surprising combinations. This is where the Netherlands shines. For any innovation to achieve real practical success, however, it needs to be applied across a broad front. Across the various sectors of the economy, including the Top Sectors, companies, knowledge institutes and government agencies are working to create a strategy to foster this approach and create new markets.

If this sounds appealing to you, please get in touch with us.

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