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National Government is seeking to stimulate innovation and sustainability. This can also accelerate further advances towards a Biobased Economy. An overview of several important schemes in this field is given below.

Innovation schemes

A circular economy in the Netherlands by 2050

The Government-wide programme for a Circular Economy is aimed at developing a circular economy in the Netherlands by 2050. The ambition of the Cabinet is to realise, together with a variety of stakeholders, an (interim) objective ofa 50% reduction in the use of primary raw materials (from minerals, fossil fuels and metals) by 2030. With this objective for the use of raw materials, the Netherlands sets its ambitions at a level adopted in comparable countries.

Biobased within the Top Sector Approach

The Cabinet has designated 9 top sectors. These are sectors in which the Netherlands has a strong global position. Entrepreneurs and researchers in the 9 top sectors work together in Top Consortiums for Knowledge and Innovation (TKIs). These TKIs carry out research and look for ways of bringing innovations to the market. The TKI-BBE foundation (Stichting Topconsortium voor Kennis- en Innovatie Biobased Economy) is tasked with the implementation of the cross-sector Biobased Economy programme within the context of the Chemicals Top Sector. TKI-BBE contributes towards the realisation of the biobased economy in the Netherlands.

SME Innovation Scheme for Top Sectors (MIT)

Dutch SME entrepreneurs are key drivers of innovations that help to strengthen the economy. The Ministry of Economic Affairs has special instruments to assist these efforts of SME entrepreneurs. Among other things, SMEs can link up with innovation activities within the top sectors. Each top sector selects which instruments it wishes to deploy in order to involve SMEs. The top sectors have a choice of 5 instruments:

  • Feasibility studies
  • R&D partnership projects
  • Innovation Performance Contracts (IPCs)
  • Knowledge vouchers
  • Facilities to enable SMEs to hire highly qualified staff from research organisations or large corporations

Innovative Performance Contracts (IPC)

Innovation Performance Contracts (IPC) is a grant scheme for SMEs working together on multi-year innovation programmes in the same region, chain or sector. Within the IPC scheme, groups of SME entrepreneurs, acting under the direction of a central coordinator such as an industry organisation, can carry out multi-year innovation projects. The available budget for 2016 is EUR  2,8 million. Applications are assessed on the following tender criteria: degree of innovation (40%), quality of cooperation (30%) and relevance to top sectors (30%). As the Biobased Economy is a cross-sector theme within the top sector approach, applications in this field stand a good chance of being accepted.

SME+ Innovation Fund

The SME+ Innovation Fund enables you as an entrepreneur to convert your ideas more easily and rapidly into profitable new products, services and processes. Developing new products or technologies is expensive. And given the uncertainty as to whether the end product will be as profitable as expected, finding investors can be hard. Funding difficulties can cause the product’s market launch to be significantly delayed or even aborted altogether. That’s why the Ministry of Economic Affairs has stepped in to help with the SME+ Innovation Fund, which will make a total of EUR 500 million available in the period from 2012 to 2015. The involvement of the fund helps to bring other financiers on board. The fund forms the continuation of successful financing instruments such as the Innovation Credit Scheme and the SEED Capital scheme.

Innovative tendering: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

In this programme the government invites businesses to compete for assignments to develop innovations that contribute towards the resolution of societal issues. SBIR projects must ultimately result in new products and services. To encourage this process, the entrepreneur retains the intellectual property rights. The assignments concern both feasibility studies and development processes. The SBIR focuses on innovations in very specific areas. Examples within the BBE are:

  • Agro-logistics and biomass
  • Biobased economy
  • Green raw materials
  • Innovative and new proteins on the menu
  • Seaweed

WBSO (R&D Payroll Tax Allowance)

The WBSO enables companies to lower their R&D payroll costs. The WBSO is available to all entrepreneurs and companies in the Netherlands irrespective of their size or sector, from self-employed persons to SMEs and multinationals, and from start-ups to well-established family businesses. The WBSO is an easy way to reduce the payroll tax costs. The WBSO budget for 2016 is EUR 1.151 million. Projects can be submitted several times a year via a very straightforward procedure.

Sustainability Schemes

Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production (SDE+ Scheme)

The SDE stimulates the production of sustainable energy and is aimed at businesses and (non-profit) institutions. Sustainable energy is generated from clean inexhaustible sources and is therefore referred to as ‘renewable energy’. The SDE+ 2016 (Q1, Q2) budget for supporting projects is EUR 4 billion. Subsidies can be requested for the generation of renewable electricity, renewable heating, combined renewable heating and power or green gas. This concerns renewable energy produced from biomass as well as wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and osmotic power.

Energy Investment Allowance (EIA)

The government has set up the EIA to encourage Dutch businesses to save energy and adopt renewable energy. The budget for 2016 is EUR 161 million. Under the EIA, you can deduct 58% of the investment costs from the taxable profit. The direct financial gain depends on the rate of taxation; it amounts to about 14% of the approved investment costs. You can use the EIA alongside the ‘standard’ investment allowance.


The MIA (Environmental Investment Allowance)/Vamil (Discretionary Depreciation of Environmental Investments) schemes facilitate:

  • tax-efficient investments in environmentally friendly products or operating assets;
  • accelerated marketing of innovative environmentally-friendly products.

The MIA allows you to deduct up to 36% of your environmentally-friendly investment costs from the taxable profit in addition to the normal depreciation. With the Vamil you are free to determine the timing and pace of this depreciation. This gives rise to liquidity and interest advantages.

The MIA/Vamil list contains about 270 investments that yield genuine environmental gains. By making these investments, you not only help the environment, but also gain substantial tax relief. You can also take advantage of the MIA/Vamil scheme if you have developed an environmentally-friendly product that you want to take to market. The Environment List is updated each year. Due to advancing technology, investments may be removed from the list or adjusted because they no longer match the objectives of the MIA/Vamil, while new innovative investments can be added to the list. Your product may be among them! You can submit a proposal for the inclusion of your product on the Environment List. If successful, this can make it easier to take your product to the market.

Non-financial support

Dutch Sustainable Biomass Programmes

The Dutch Sustainable Biomass Programmes (NPDB) combine the knowledge of the diverse biomass projects and fill any knowledge gaps by means of additional research. The NPDB project portfolio consists of the projects that are carried out under the Sustainable Biomass Global and Sustainable Biomass Import programmes/funds and the relevant projects of the Daey Ouwens Fund. The mission of the NPDB is to promote sustainable biomass production and thus facilitate the transition to a biobased economy. The focus of the NPDB is on:
1. Evaluation of the effects of biomass production
2. Certification
3. More sustainable production chains

DEN Programme

The Netherlands Sustainable Energy (DEN) programme stimulates the application of bioenergy, solar energy, heat pumps and geothermal energy, and onshore and offshore wind energy. The main focus is on knowledge building/transfer and networks to promote practical sustainable energy solutions.

GAVE (Climate-Neutral Biogas and Bioliquids)

The purpose of the government’s GAVE programme is to develop and introduce climate-neutral fuels in the Dutch transport sector. The most important activity is to support the implementation of the European Renewable Energy Directive in Dutch law. This directive stipulates that renewables must account for10% of the energy used in the transport sector by 2020.

Clean and Economical Agriculture Sectors Covenant

In 2008 several parties in the agricultural sector signed the ‘Clean and Economical Agricultural Sectors’ Covenant with the government. The three central themes are: greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energy and energy saving. Based on this covenant, the agricultural sectors are carrying out the ‘Clean and Economical Agricultural Sectors’ Innovation and Action Programme in order to make their production more sustainable and thus achieve both economic and competitive gains.


To find out more about the results of the various government-sponsored research projects, go to the website of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency..


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