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Working on the future of artificial intelligence in the Netherlands

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the great innovations of our time, with applications in numerous fields. Alongside the opportunities that AI presents, there are still many questions about this far-reaching systems technology. What benefits can we exploit? How will the economy, people, and society relate to AI? What are the threats and concerns? How do privacy or dependency on Big Tech relate to AI? TNO Vector plays a central role in finding answers to these questions. In collaboration with, among others, the Dutch AI Coalition (NL AIC), AiNed, and TNO APPL.AI, we’re contributing to the Netherlands’ knowledge base in this field.

Bringing partners together

As a spider in the web of the Dutch innovation network, we played an important role in the establishment of the Dutch AI Coalition (NL AIC) in 2019, together with TNO APPL.AI. In this coalition, public authorities, the business community, knowledge institutes, and civil society parties are together working on an AI Agenda for the Netherlands.

As a core team member, Anita Lieverdink, Senior Innovation Orchestrator at TNO Vector, helped to establish and implement the first strategy period of the Dutch AI Coalition.

‘The establishment of NL AIC is a perfect fit with TNO Vector. We at TNO Vector have extensive expertise in the field of Orchestrating Innovation with regard to strategic public-private partnerships for innovations. Concerning the field of AI, TNO Vector is working with all kinds of partners across the entire chain – from research to application. An excellent foundation for the formation of a coalition.’

The whole spectrum of AI in the Netherlands

NL AIC currently has some 500 partners. The coalition is building expertise, broadening collaborations with new parties, and acquiring funding for research and development.

Lieverdink: ‘As such, NL AIC is working across the entire spectrum. This includes data sharing as a source of AI solutions, holding courses on the implications of AI for various fields, organising an AI parade to raise awareness among the wider public, helping with the ethical and legal aspects, and much more.’

‘With some 500 stakeholders – comprising private sector companies, NGOs, public authorities, and knowledge institutes – and the approval of our AiNed Growth Fund proposal, we’re now entering the next phase in which solutions are being implemented.’ - Anita Lieverdink, Senior Innovation Orchestrator at TNO Vector


In 2019, NL AIC published its first position paper, ‘Algorithms that work for everyone’. The paper clarifies the Netherlands’ strong AI position, but also shows how work needs to be done to maintain and strengthen its position.

‘The position paper is an agenda containing the Netherlands’ strategic goals in the field of AI and is a first step to solving societal problems. With some 500 stakeholders – comprising private sector companies, NGOs, public authorities, and knowledge institutes – and the approval of our AiNed Growth Fund proposal, we’re now entering the next phase in which solutions are being implemented.

There is a rich palette of examples of AI application areas relevant to the Netherlands. These include culture and media, defence, energy and sustainability, financial services, the built environment, and healthcare. Working groups in these areas are currently mapping applications and developing new initiatives.

Start-ups and scale-ups

‘Scaling up and embedding AI within the business community and society at large is therefore a priority.’ In 2021, the AiNed Foundation was established. The public-private, multiannual AiNed programme places the Netherlands in the leading group of AI countries while simultaneously making a major contribution to our international competitiveness.

Lieverdink has since been asked to shape ‘Breaking Barriers’, AiNed’s start-up and scale-up programme: ‘Of the currently around 800 AI start-ups, only 11% reach scale. By offering targeted individual support, we want to help AI startups scale up during their initial growth phase. We’re doing this, for example, by giving them access to data, supporting the ethical and legal frameworks of their applications, internationalising, and obtaining funding.

Assisting these companies with their scale-up brings economic benefits. In addition, AI start-ups are playing an important role as suppliers for SMEs and larger businesses by offering solutions to societal and individual challenges, such as sustainable energy supply, optimal mobility, reliable media, and affordable healthcare.’

Would you also like to get to work on strategic public-private partnerships for innovations? Contact our expert.