Government looks for new National Icons

What top innovations are there in the Netherlands that are solving problems around the globe and contributing to our economy? How do we keep the health care of the future affordable, how can we deal with digitisation in a smart way or how can we make manufacturing sustainable and energy-efficient? To answer these questions, the government will embark on its third quest for pioneering innovations that will enable the Netherlands to change the world. At the Innovation Expo in Rotterdam, Mona Keijzer (State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy) kicked off the new National Icons contest today. The government will announce the winners in September 2019.

According to State Secretary Keijzer, "The Netherlands is well known at home and abroad for its abundance of creative entrepreneurs. They are engaged in developing innovative products and services that solve day-to-day problems. This continuous work on new innovations is the foundation for our growing economy. For this reason, we’re today announcing our quest to find new National Icons among 230 leading Dutch entrepreneurs and researchers. Innovations help us to solve social challenges, while entrepreneurs ensure that we remain in the European vanguard when it comes to innovation. That’s something I am proud of!"

National Icons to be announced in September 2019

The winners of the 2016 National Icons contest were Blue Energy (energy from water), Growboxx (planting in dry regions) and Lighthouse (medical isotopes). The contest was organised for the first time in 2014. Back then, four innovations were announced in the Ridderzaal as winners: cultivated stem cells, Quantum Technologies, Hybrid potatoes and the Bioneedle.

As was the case last year, the panel of judges that will put the National Icons forward to the government are chaired by Hans Wijers, with the panel’s nominations to be announced in September 2019. For further information on the current National Icons and application to the new contest, please visit

Innovation Expo: attention to education and financing

Keijzer visited a variety of exhibitors at the Innovation Expo. She was also presented with the Energy Top Sector’s agenda for secondary and higher vocational education. This agenda sets out the route towards ensuring that there are enough well-educated, well-trained staff to enable the energy transition.

Furthermore, Keijzer attended the launch of the Stichting MKB Financiering. This foundation will entail a collaboration between 10 parties on fostering alternative financing for SMEs, by assisting with the issue of shares and bonds or encouraging the use of crowdfunding, for example. Over 20% of all entrepreneurs now seek out financing options in addition to a bank loan. This initiative dovetails with State Secretary Keijzer’s SME action plan, which seeks to encourage entrepreneurship by means of such measures as creating a variety of financing options.