Water Technology Growth Plan receives €135 million from National Growth Fund

Consortium of 600 parties works on water technology and water availability

A consortium of about 600 parties will invest €342 million in the development, growth and exports of the water technology sector, and thereby in sustainable water availability in the Netherlands. Their Water Technology Growth Plan, which covers a period of ten years, has been granted financing from the National Growth Fund (NGF). On 24 February, the cabinet decided to invest €135 million from the NGF in this Water Technology Growth Plan. Additional funding will come from businesses (€106 million), and local authorities and knowledge institutions (€101 million). KWR is co-initiator of the Growth Plan and will have a coordinating role in its realisation.

In April 2022 the NGF advisory committee had already ear-marked €135 million on the basis of a predecessor of the now adopted Water Technology Growth Plan. Over the last few months the consortium has improved the original plan in line with the committee’s suggestions, which included strengthening the focus on the national earning capacity.

Unique in breadth and scale

The NGF advisory committee refers to the collaboration behind the Growth Plan as being ‘unique in breadth and scale’, and sees it as having great potential. Dutch businesses develop products, processes and services, which can be sold worldwide in markets where issues related to water quantity and quality are prominent. These markets are found practically everywhere. Indeed, for eight years in a row, the World Economic Forum has listed water scarcity as one of the five biggest threats to welfare globally. However, for a variety of reasons, the significant economic opportunities associated with ensuring the necessary availability of sufficient clean water are still today being capitalised on too little and too slowly.

Lowering barriers

The Water Technology Growth Plan contributes to lowering the barriers to innovation and the marketing of path-breaking technologies, thereby providing an important impulse to the sector’s innovation power, growth and export volume. The plan covers the entire ecosystem, from knowledge to skills to cash: from research through to the further development, validation and scaling-up, to initial demonstration application by (private and public) launching customers, with accompanying intra- and cross-sectorial consultations. The Growth Plan secures the passage of Dutch businesses into the global market, thus offering economic added value to companies active in water technology in the Netherlands. It is committed to building earning capacity and labour productivity, both for the water technology sector and for water-consuming sectors.

Water transition

At the same time, the associated innovation and valorisation lead to a water transition, which will ensure sufficient clean water and strengthened supply security for all users (households, industry, agriculture, nature). These are essential preconditions in the business and living environment.

KWR focusses on pilots and tests…

The Water Technology Growth Plan is comprehensive: it spans ten years and includes about 600 participants. Within the consortium, KWR will be occupied mostly with (the coordination of) pilot and field test projects, so that innovative water technology can be scaled up and validated with a view to further demonstration. To this end, KWR, together with STOWA (Foundation for Applied Water Research), will be leading the Pilots & Tests programme track. Large-scale pilots and tests under field conditions accelerate the process of bridging the research and the commercial phases. Innovations therefore find their way more quickly to practice, so that societal and economic impact is generated faster.

…and on acceleration and maximisation

KWR will in addition play an important role in the supporting Acceleration and Maximisation Work Package.

The growth plan expressively sees the successful strengthening of economic growth and sustainability as a socio-technical challenge. The acceleration of economic growth in the water technology sector also calls for societal and social innovations, new roles for public authorities, modifications of legal and regulatory frameworks, and the availability of sufficient well-trained people. The purpose of the Acceleration and Maximisation work package is both to accelerate innovation and to maximise the value and impact of the Water Technology Growth Plan. This means that it can serve the growth plan’s different programme tracks and focus areas.

National Growth Fund

The National Growth Fund (NGF) is an initiative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Ministry of Finance. The purpose of the fund is to realise public investments that contribute to the durable earning capacity of the Netherlands. The NGF was set up in 2020 with the objective of undertaking one-off public investments, with the cabinet ear-marking €20 billion for the 2021-2025 period. The fund engages in targeted investments in fields that present the highest potential for structural and durable economic growth, namely: knowledge development, and research, development and innovation.

A unique feature of the Growth Plan is its full inclusion of the water-technology research and innovation ecosystem – from research through to full-scale demonstration in the water infrastructure, and the further market development. This chain approach is illustrated above.