Switzerland and the Netherlands are strong and innovative countries with a long history in precision engineering. To increase the cooperation between the countries, this report has reviewed the respective precision engineering industries in both countries. This report could therefore serve as an introduction and reference manual on the relevant R&D-landscape in both countries for those parties who want to cooperate. The report focusses on ‘Mechatronics and Manufacturing’, ‘Components and Circuits’ and ‘Nanotechnology’, and the application-areas ‘Health-tech’, ‘Advanced Instrumentation’ and ‘Semiconductor equipment’.
Both countries have top universities and competitive high-tech industries in these fields. The R&D environments in both countries could well work together, as the “precision” of Switzerland may supplement the “creativity” of the Netherlands. Both countries are open and internationally oriented, which is a good start for cooperation, building and extending already existing connections.
The role of the governments should be a facilitating one. On both sides research institutes and companies appreciate the network and introductions government bodies can give. For companies the government can facilitate by assisting with meetings, seminars and fairs, and branding (Holland High Tech). For SME’s it is furthermore useful to get assistance with first contacts and introductions, especially if they do not already have an international reputation. This networking role of the government could also be of help to researchers, as a network is important for bilateral research.
For research and education institutes the most evident way for Swiss-Dutch research cooperation is through European platforms as the Horizon 2020 program. It is important to monitor the current development in the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU, and the resulting participation in the associated research programs. Further research stimulation could be done by reinforcing the connections between the funding organizations SNF and NWO.
Interesting patterns to further study for the Netherlands are the long term research funding in Switzerland, which has helped the top-research institutes and universities. Secondly the Swiss educational system, especially the vocational part, could be a good example of high quality vocational education. For Switzerland, the extensive cooperation between companies and universities in the Netherlands is interesting.
During stimulating and fruitful conversations with stakeholders in Switzerland and the Netherlands the following topics were consistently mentioned for further research cooperation:
- 3D printing
High precision, micro scale 3-dimensional printing is still in its early development; but both countries show interest and have industries that would profit from high precision printed parts.
- Silicon; lithography
Both countries have extensive knowledge of chip fabrication, with various examples as low voltage and security, this could be combined with the micro-tooling of silicon for MEM’s.
- Advanced Instrumentation
This industry develops instruments for high-tech companies and fundamental research facilities; both countries excel in this knowledge driven high precision industry.
- Medical technology; micro fluids
Switzerland as well as the Netherlands are world class players in medical technology, of recent mutual interest are micro fluids, with examples as lab-on-a-chip.
With top research facilities and industries active in nano-technology related fields as solar- and semiconductor-technology cooperation could strengthen the knowledge position of both countries.
Composites and bio-based materials
Both countries are active in the development of new materials: from bio-based materials to composites and cross-overs, which are used in High Tech and Medical industries.
By Freek Deunk
The complete report can be downloaded here: