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Funding and performance of R&D in the Netherlands

fact sheet
02 July 2024
Funding R&D research Innovation

Photo: NASA Gleen Research Center/Eyevine/Hollandse Hoogte

What are the sources of funding for Research and Development (R&D) in the Netherlands? This factsheet provides information and figures on the funding of R&D in the Netherlands and the sectors where this R&D is performed. We map out who funds this research and at which institutions it is carried out.

In short

  • The total R&D-expenditure has gradually grown, from 5,041 million euros in 1990 to 22,010 million euros in 2022.
  • Business funds a little over half of scientific research and development (R&D) in the Netherlands, the government approximately one third.
  • The share of businesses as R&D-performers is largest, at 66% in 2021; followed by the higher education sector who perform 29%.

R&D in the Netherlands is performed by various types of organisation and funded from several sources. In 2022, €22 billion was spent on R&D in this country. The business sector is both the largest funder and the largest exporter of scientific research. In addition to companies, government is an important source of funding. In addition, Dutch researchers receive money from abroad (e.g. European research programmes) and other parties, such as private non-profit organisations. Researchers carry out their research within companies, institutes of higher education and other research institutions, such as the NWO institutes or the RIVM.

The table below shows who funded R&D in the Netherlands in 2021, the amount they spent and what type of organisation performed the R&D. Detailed data by funder for 2022 are not available.

R&D spending in the Netherlands by sector of performance and source of funding, 2021, in millions of euros

Sector of performance Source of funding: Companies Source of funding: government Source of funding: other domestic sources Sourve of funding: non-domestic sources Total by sector of performance
Companies 10621 849 127 1435 13032
Higher education 424 4163 325 469 5381
Research institutions 98 849 26 111 1084
Total by source of funding 11143 5861 478 2015 19497

Funding of R&D

Funding for R&D in the Netherlands comes from a range of sources: central government, companies, other domestic sources and other non-domestic sources.

facts and figures

57% Companies

30% Central government

10% Non-domestic sources


Companies fund around half of all academic research and development work (R&D) in the Netherlands. Commercial funding focuses mainly on R&D within the company itself and within the company’s own sector (this accounts for 80 to 85% of funding). Dutch companies also fund research performed by universities and research institutions. Finally, they also fund R&D in other countries, spending €3.2 billion, according to Statistics Netherlands’ 2021 figures.

Central government

Central government funds about a third of R&D in the Netherlands. Government funding of academic research takes place in several ways.

1. Direct government funding
This takes the form of:

  • Fixed financial contributions to institutions (known as institutional or basic funding). The government also funds research through intermediary organisations such as the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO: instruments), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO: grants & funding);
  • Funding for research performed by its own knowledge institutes, such as the Ministry of Security and Justice’s Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment’s Mobility Policy Institute (KiM);
  • Direct funding for policy-oriented research (project or programme funding).

2. Tax incentives
In addition to direct funding for R&D, there is indirect, fiscal support for R&D and innovation. This fiscal support makes it more attractive for companies to invest in R&D and innovation, for example through tax deductions. This is an important instrument within the government's innovation policy, but it is also used to stimulate R&D. This instrument has gained in importance since the Rutte government made the switch from specific financing (via programmes and subsidies) to generic tax support of innovation.

Tax incentives are governed by the Research and Development (Promotion) Act (Wet Bevordering Speur- en Ontwikkelingswerk, (WBSO), ]), a scheme for companies whereby the Dutch government compensates companies for a proportion of the costs of research and development work. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency administers the scheme on behalf of the government. It consists of three facilities:

  • Compensation for a proportion of the wage costs associated with research and development work in the form of a reduction in the salaries tax and social insurance contributions payable;
  • An R&D allowance for self-employed people;
  • An extra allowance for start-ups

Since 2012 a new tax instrument has been introduced in addition to the WBSO scheme. Known as the Research & Development Allowance (RDA), it is intended for R&D costs other than those associated with employees (which are covered by the WBSO scheme). In other words, for R&D investments and R&D running costs.  As of 2016, the WBSO and RDA have been merged (see the Letter to the House of Representatives of July 7th, 2015). Together, the two schemes provided €1.301 million in incentives in 2022.


Some R&D in the Netherlands is financed by private non-profit funds. The health funds contribute the most to scientific research. The Netherlands has several of these funds, which focus on specific disorders or groups of disorders. Their annual reports show that in 2021 they funded €192 million in research. The two biggest funds are the cancer research charity KWF and the Dutch Heart Foundation. Nineteen of the funds have joined forces in the SGF (Samenwerkende Gezondheidsfondsen).


Besides funding from Dutch sources, research in the Netherlands also receives funding from foreign companies and from European Union research programmes, particularly the Framework Programmes. Foreign companies have become an increasingly important source of funding for Dutch R&D. Non-domestic funding comes from:

  • Foreign companies, which mainly fund research by Dutch companies;
  • The European Union’s research programmes, particularly its Framework Programmes. The Eighth Framework programme (Horizon 2020) ran from 2014 to 2020 and had a total budget of over €77 billion. Dutch researchers received €5.4 billion of this over that period, representing 7.9% of the total. Horizon Europe, the successor to Horizon 2020, runs from 2021 to 2027 and has a total budget of over €95 billion. We see a similar role for the Netherlands this far: 9.1% of the total budget went to Dutch researchers. Since the United Kingdom has left the EU and is participating in Horizon Europe as an associated country, the percentage is higher for most European countries, including the Netherlands. 

The data publications on the EU framework programmes show developments in the position of the Netherlands in the framework programmes and the  share of funding of the EU framework programmes in relation to government funding of R&D in the Netherlands.

Developments in R&D funding in the Netherlands

The figure below shows the relative proportions of funding from different sources. Dutch companies fund around half the R&D performed in the Netherlands. The amount paid for by the government has risen from almost €3 billion in 2001 to  €5.9 billion in 2021. The proportion of non-domestic funding has fluctuated between 10 and 13% since 1997. Detailed data by type are not available for 2022.

R&D performance

facts and figures

66% Companies

28% Higher education

6% Research institutes

R&D expenditure has risen steadily, from €5,041 million in 1990 to €22,010 million in 2022. The sharp rises in R&D spending by companies in 2011 and 2013 can be explained by changes in the data collection by Statistics Netherlands. For more information see the end of this factsheet or the notes under the following figure.

Industry conducted the major share of R&D in 2021, at 66%; this is followed by higher education at 28% and research institutions at 6%.