Missions as a solution to societal challenges

27 Nov 2018

Europe faces complex and unremitting challenges. Climate change, cyber security and an ageing population require an innovative and radical approach with broad social support. With a focus on mission-driven policies, governments make the right choice to confront today’s challenges. This is the conclusion of TNO in the 2018 edition of State of Dutch Innovation: Missions and ‘new’ mission-driven policy.

Read the English summary

Download here a copy of the English summary of State of Dutch Innovation 2018


According to the authors of the publication, mission-driven policy is shaped by ambition and courage, and requires co-creation with stakeholders and citizens. Research and innovation also contribute to a better understanding of the challenges. This should also lead to new insights and solutions. But many of the challenges require more than just scientific and technological solutions. They encourage the modernisation of legislation and regulations, information, new standards and incentives that promote different behaviour.

Cross-border character

Many of the current challenges are cross-border by nature. According to TNO, successful mission-driven policy therefore requires further international cooperation and coordination. The European, national and often regional dimensions of the challenges must be taken into account. Scalable solutions are also a crucial factor. In the new publication TNO offers nine rules of thumb to further shape this approach.

Focco Vijselaar (r.), Ministery of Economic Affairs, was handed the first copy

First copy

Focco Vijselaar, director-general on Companies & Innovation of the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy, received the first copy from Paul de Krom, CEO of TNO. De Krom emphasised that “Shaping missions and formulating effective mission-driven policy is not an easy task, but successful classic missions such as the Delta Works show that joint action by government, companies, knowledge institutions, challengers and citizens makes a lot possible.” Vijselaar underlined the relevance of the publication: “This report provides tools to synthesise mission policy in order to tackle societal challenges. In the EU, nationally and regionally.

European focus

The 2018 publication of State of Dutch Innovation also fits in TNO's recent work in preparation for the development of Horizon Europe. As partner of a European consortium, TNO has done extensive research, which resulted in two studies, on the concept of mission-oriented research and innovation policy, its potential impact and critical success factors. The research contributed to the European Commission thinking regarding its initial proposals for Horizon Europe.


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Factors for success for European mission-oriented research and innovation policy

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In preparation for the development of Horizon Europe and as partner of a European consortium, TNO has done extensive research, in two studies, on the concept of mission-oriented research and innovation... Read more

Arjen Goetheer

  • innovation policy
  • strategy
  • foresight
  • innovation hubs

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