Public knowledge organisations help government realise its responsibilities (for example food safety) and achieve the societal aims that it sets (such as economic growth). They generate, collect and disseminate knowledge to safeguard the wellbeing, prosperity, public safety and security of the Netherlands, both now and in the future. Their raison d’être lies in the public interests that they serve with their research and related activities. Their work is driven by the knowledge requirements of government authorities, businesses, industry, the police force, social workers, patients, consumers and so on.
Five different groups of public knowledge organisations can be distinguished in the Dutch knowledge infrastructure. The policy-oriented organisations focus chiefly on research in support of policymaking. They monitor societal trends, trace the real and potential consequences of policy, and evaluate policy. The government laboratories support the national government by executing its knowledge-intensive responsibilities. They, for example, perform forensic investigations, test foodstuffs and coordinate the National Immunisation Programme. The TO2 institutes support businesses, industry and government by conducting and/or facilitating research and innovation, often pre-competitively and in consortia with authorities, businesses and knowledge-based organisations. They manage large-scale facilities for this purpose. The sector-oriented organisations combine research in support of policymaking with a focus on the knowledge requirements of professionals and their clients in the health care, sports, culture and security sectors. They do so by collecting and proactively sharing available data, monitoring trends and developing tools such as courses, guidelines and information leaflets. The professional research and training organisations combine research (in support of policymaking) with training for aspiring and qualified professionals who work in the defence, law enforcement and diplomatic sectors.
For more background information about this classification system and the specific tasks of each public knowledge organisation, see our Facts & Figures on this topic. We provide a table listing the individual public knowledge organisations here.
The figure below indicates the size of these five groups based on total income in 2015. It shows that the TO2 institutes and the government laboratories together account for more than three quarters of the income of the public knowledge organisations.