Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the dinner session, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Davos

Ladies and gentlemen,
When we see our children using an iPad quicker than we can, we know it's because of the internet revolution that is now part of history. But another revolution - the Fourth Industrial Revolution - is happening as we speak. We don't have the luxury of analysing it with hindsight. We must recognise it and respond as it happens. Because if we don't, others will. So much in our daily lives is already changing fast - from the way we use our smartphones to the rise of the 3D printer. We are living in interesting times!

Given the speed of change today, we clearly need to focus on preparing our European market for this revolution. Ever since its creation, the single market has been one of the EU's greatest achievements. And it still holds so much promise. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is our opportunity to make good on that promise and extend the single market to the digital arena. There's 400 billion euros to gain for the European economy. So taking action in this area will not only be profitable. It will also mean millions of jobs for millions of people. The stakes are high!

So let me say in advance that II agree fully with Commissioner Oettinger's views on the Digital Single Market, which he'll share with you in a moment. Yes, we should cut red tape to create a level playing field for businesses all over Europe. Yes, we should make it easier to deliver goods and services in other European countries. And yes, we should do much more with Big Data. That's how we'll create the conditions that make sure European businesses are at the forefront of the Fourth Revolution. The Dutch Presidency of the EU Council aims to foster innovation across Europe. To help build an EU that allows citizens and companies to join this revolution.

But I also view this issue as prime minister of a country that has been at the forefront of trade and innovation for centuries. EU action is one side of the coin. But it's also up to the member states themselves to seize opportunities in the market, to sustain economic growth, and to open up new markets. Let me give you a practical example from the Netherlands.

With our ageing population we are currently seeking ways to contain the cost of health care. The use of advanced robotics is one way to help us improve both personal care and efficiency in public health. Amsterdam's VU University recently tested a robot called Alice, which helps elderly people who suffer from Alzheimer's. And they all loved Alice! So we are planning to scale up robotics testing - and to make it profitable for everyone.

This example again shows that innovation often happens at the nexus of the public interest, new business solutions and ongoing scientific research. In the Netherlands we call this nexus the 'triple helix'. If government, academia and the business community work together, we can truly innovate and master the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To conclude, I see many opportunities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: for the EU, its member states and the business community. The revolution is happening as we speak. But we won't reap its rewards if we sit back and wait to analyse it in hindsight. We must act now.
Thank you.