Speech by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit

“Soon we’ll have self-driving cars, trucks and trains, self-navigating ships and self-flying planes. Manufacturers operate on a global scale. So I urge governments to do the same!”

Speech by Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 4 June 2019 in The Hague.

Thank you, Gary.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s great that entrepreneurs from all over the world are meeting here today and tomorrow! I hope that you all had an interesting afternoon, each in your own professional domain. Domains like energy and water, agri-food and healthcare – all subjects that need tackling by the world’s best minds.

As the Dutch minister responsible for infrastructure and water management, I’m pleased to see that this conference is also focusing on mobility and transport. Because we’re now at the start of a new era. IT is a game changer in connectivity. And entrepreneurs like you are the crucial link!

The private sector plays an essential role in transforming technological innovation into consumer products. Whether you’re an innovative scale-up company, a major enterprise or an investor – each of you is key in enabling market growth and freeing up finance for innovation.

We need new networks and new partnerships. And that’s why we’re here today at this Global Entrepreneurship Summit!

In the near future, we’ll have self-driving cars, trucks and trains, self-navigating ships and self-flying planes. The American startup Kitty Hawk has even produced the world’s first electric, self-flying air taxi. They christened her ‘Cora’. Of course, I was delighted, because that’s my name too! These are ground-breaking developments with the potential to bring us closer to a future with zero road deaths, zero congestion and zero carbon emissions.

How are we going to do this? How are we going to ensure a responsible introduction of a new generation of road vehicles, ships and aircraft?

Ladies and gentlemen, the key is safety. We’ve all seen front page headlines about accidents with autonomous vehicles. But most of the victims of accidents with regular cars – and there are far more of them – don’t even make the news.

People aren’t prepared to tolerate mistakes by computers. Potential buyers pull out if they don’t trust the new systems. We can’t let that happen, because automated mobility has many advantages.

And this is where governments can play a role. For instance, they can issue driving licences for cars, not for drivers but for cars. The vehicle itself needs to show that it can drive safely – including after a software update.

Naturally, governments and manufacturers have to work together closely on this. Like we did yesterday at the ITS European Congress on smart mobility and digitisation of transport. Five EU members states, five car manufacturers and two service providers started an international pilot project, called ‘Data for Road Safety’.

This public-private coalition is working on a new data system that will assist and alert road users in real time. We’re using data generated by vehicles and by sensors along the road. Within this partnership, car manufacturers and satnav companies are making data available for free, to help make the roads safer. Data are very valuable. They can save lives!

I believe it’s government’s task to ensure a safe, enabling environment in which entrepreneurs and pioneers like yourselves can achieve their full potential. Without unnecessary rules and red tape.

At both national and international level. Manufacturers operate on a global scale, and want to sell their new vehicles, ships and aircraft across the world. So I urge cooperation not only within Europe, but also at global level.

It is something I also discussed with my US counterpart Secretary Chao this morning. And it is one of the reasons this Global Entrepreneurship Summit, organised by the United States and the Netherlands, is such a good idea...

Ladies and gentlemen,

I’m delighted that the Netherlands is known as an international frontrunner in automated mobility. Because frontrunners determine the route for the rest of the field. I choose the route where safety is paramount. And I hope to find all of you at my side. Whether here in Europe or overseas.

Let’s work together worldwide on safe automated mobility!

Thank you.