Topsector approach

In 2010, with the onset of Cabinet Rutte II, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science launched their Enterprise Policy. The primary goal of this ongoing national innovation strategy is to strengthen the competiveness of the Dutch economy. Apart from generic measures like reduction of regulatory burdens, SME funding and (existing) major R&D tax schemes, the Enterprise Policy also included the newly conceived Topsector approach. At the heart of this approach lie nine top sectors in which enterprises and knowledge institutes work together with the government to strengthen their innovation systems and competitiveness. The Dutch companies and research centres in these top sectors play a leading role in the world and promote their interests through joint planning in areas such as knowledge and innovation, internationalization, human capital, regional involvement and reducing regulatory pressures.

After running the Topsector approach for about 5 years, the Ministry of Economic Affairs requested Dialogic to conduct an evaluation. Specifically for this purpose, a framework was developed for assessing the governance and impact of so-called ‘modern industrial policy’ (more details can be found here).

The evaluation, finalized early 2017, served to gain insight in the effectiveness of the topsector approach. Following the evaluation framework, these four questions form the basis of the evaluation: (1) What bottlenecks do the top sectors face when attempting to strengthen and transform their innovation systems? What efforts (combination of incentives) have been made to address these bottlenecks, what are the outcomes and how do these contribute to the development of the top sectors? (2) How does the revenue from the top sectors relate to the associated costs? (3) To what extent is the topsector approach suitably designed to achieve policy objectives? (4) How could the effectiveness and efficiency of the topsector approach be improved?

Evaluation Topsector approach – management summary


  • Projectnummer
  • Opdrachtgever(s)
    Ministry of Economic Affairs
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Principal scientist