Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the opening of the Wissenstag (Knowledge Day) at the 2016 Hannover Messe
Ladies and gentlemen,
It's great to be back at the Hannover Messe!
My last visit was in 2014, when the Netherlands was Partner Country, and it was a marvellous experience.
The Messe is a showcase for high-tech machinery, robotics and nanotechnology.
And although it feels like being on the set of Back to the Future, we're actually surrounded by knowledge and expertise that's already available today.
Knowledge and expertise we badly need.
Because it's perfectly obvious that our economic growth will increasingly have to come from higher productivity, and therefore from technological advances.
Certainly in Europe, where our labour force is hardly growing - if at all.
If you can't be strong, you must be smart, and technological innovation is the key.
And that's precisely what the Hannover Messe is all about.
There's a well-known saying: 'Power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it'.
And that's the philosophy behind today's Wissenstag: two heads are better than one.
Or, as Johan Cruijff once said, 'You can do nothing alone but a great deal together'.
That's why it's good to see the Wissenstag back at the Hannover Messe.
As Partner Country in 2014, we launched this event to bring together knowledge institutions, companies and public authorities.
In the Netherlands we call the collaboration between these parties the 'triple helix' of innovation.
And our approach seems to have caught on, because the Wissenstag has become a recurring event.
Long may it continue!
Sharing knowledge is important not only between the public, private and research sectors, but also between countries.
Between Germany and the Netherlands, for example.
The Dutch have a proverb: a good neighbour is better than a distant friend.
But when it comes to Germany we consider ourselves very fortunate, for it is both a good neighbour and a good friend.
Our ties are very close.
Politically, culturally and - with a mutual trade volume of over 160 billion euros - economically.
We couldn't wish for a better friend.
Germany's famous Gründlichkeit and Pünktlichkeit are a perfect fit with Dutch flexibility and creativity.
We complement each other.
You and I know that, and over the years many companies and research institutes in both countries have discovered it too.
There are countless examples of successful partnerships.
Take the German Carl Zeiss and the Dutch ASML: global leaders in the lithography systems market.
Or take Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, which recently forged close ties with the University of Twente.
Creating great opportunities for knowledge-sharing and the manufacturing sector in our border regions.
We share the same ties of friendship and collaboration with this year's Partner Country, the United States.
And when I say 'ties' I mean it literally: 11 of America's 15 transatlantic data cables make land in the Netherlands.
So we are truly America's 'digital gateway to Europe'.
In 2015 trade between us rose to 50 billion euros.
Again: we couldn't wish for better friends.
So in our relations with the US, too, 'sharing knowledge, not hoarding it' is the guiding principle.
One of today's themes is 'water and innovation'.
And of course that's no accident.
Without the 16,000 kilometres of dikes we rely on, the Netherlands would be half the size it is.
Countries often enlist Dutch water expertise to help protect areas against flooding.
Countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and also the US.
'Let's bring in the Dutch,' a US newspaper wrote after Hurricane Katrina.
And that's exactly what they did.
Not only in New Orleans, but in New York, too, after Hurricane Sandy.
At the invitation of President Obama, one of our speakers today - Special Envoy for Water Affairs Henk Ovink - served as a special adviser in the US, doing great work to reduce the chances of such devastation in the future.
As I said earlier, two heads are better than one.
And three are even better.
Last February, for example, I visited Planet Labs in San Francisco.
While today's satellites are generally the size of a school bus, they make satellites the size of a shoebox.
The company's US engineers work with the German engineers of their subsidiary company RapidEye, who in turn collaborate with the Dutch company Innovative Solutions in Space.
So together we're changing the face of the aerospace industry.
Ladies and gentlemen, 'Power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it'.
That applies to countries, like the Netherlands, Germany and the US, as well as to organisations, like universities, businesses and public authorities.
And that's the whole point of the Wissenstag.
Here at the Hannover Messe, armed with this international mix of knowledge and expertise, we are looking to the future of industry.
And to the future of our economies.
Because as I've said: in the future, technology will be the key to our economic growth.
I wish you all a fantastic Hannover Messe and, of course, a successful Wissenstag!