Creating innovations is a matter of working together, and that requires partners. That is why, every year, we team up with some 3,000 large multinationals, SMEs, universities and public-sector organisations within and outside the Netherlands to tackle challenges.
How we work
Knowledge development is a joint endeavour. That is something we notice every day at TNO. That is why companies, public-sector bodies and other organisations frequently work with us. And we are keen to work with these parties. The collaboration takes many forms. Interested in finding out how we can work with you?
Projects on commission
If there is something you would like to have researched for your company, public-sector organisation or foundation, you can commission a research project. We will make agreements with you about the work, the cost, and the exclusivity of the results.
For example, we can research how you can make or improve a particular product. In addition, we advise on production processes, help with troubleshooting and carry out consultancy commissions. We employ specialists in a range of fields, from mathematicians to behavioural scientists, from econometrists to optomechatronics experts. Combining different disciplines enables us to come up with creative solutions that can strengthen your company’s competitive position or make your policy more effective. We will be happy to draw up an offer for you.
Companies and public-sector and social organisations can also work with us in public-private partnerships, which can take the form of a short-term project or a long-term program. These activities fall within the scope of Demand-Driven Programs, or the Knowledge Transfer Program designed specifically for SMEs. Every year we receive government funding that covers part of the research through the Research Cooperation Funds (SMO, Samenwerkingsmiddelen Onderzoek). The remainder of the funding comes from the partner(s). The Demand-Driven Programs fall within the nine top sectors or the five social themes that the Ministry of Economic Affairs has defined together with key stakeholders. If you can provide input, or you would like to know how to participate, please contact us.
Early Research Programme
You can also participate in our Early Research Programmes, in which we develop knowledge in fields that will be of great social and economic importance in the future, but may not generate results in the short term. For example, we study how ‘big data’ can be usefully analysed and how foods and medicines can be more effectively tailored to individual needs in order to reduce healthcare costs. We finance these studies with a fixed government subsidy. Read more about our Early Research Programmes in the Annual plan 2021 (pdf) and Annual report 2020 (pdf).
For a number of ministries we carry out research into areas that they consider a priority. The ministries give us specific funding for these remits. We carry out this type of research for the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (e.g. providing information about the subsurface in the Netherlands) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (e.g. for improving labour-market participation rates).
Technology Transfer, an important part of the valorization process, involves transferring technology to the market by establishing new companies (spin-offs), or by licensing existing companies. This is how TNO innovations are transformed into products, into economic activity and into high-quality jobs.
TNO has successfully pursued this strategy for many years. Under the aegis of TNO Bedrijven, many companies have been established during this period. These companies currently employ a total of 1,100 people. However, the goal is to strengthen and expand this operation still further, as it fits perfectly within the core of TNO’s mission.
In 2016, TNO defined a programme for this purpose. This will allow promising innovations to be developed and refined into business cases and, where necessary, a proof-of-concept will be developed. This will also enable the best route to market to be determined, involving transfer either to a new company or to an existing one. To ensure that this programme is effectively implemented, a Tech Transfer team is set up in 2017, to give it a vigorous impetus.
The Tech Transfer team has expertise in the field of venturing, investment, licensing, IP scouting, deal making, project management and stakeholder management. With TNO providing appropriate, customized guidance, TNO innovations receive highly effective support during a successful market launch.
In addition to First Dutch Innovations, TNO plans to establish relationships with various other entrepreneurs and investors. One of the steps taken in this connection involves extending the cooperation with 4TU and other TO2 (Applied Research) institutions in the area of Technology Transfer.
Partners of TNO
For us, working in partnerships is the obvious choice. Each individual partner has a particular focus, and their qualities complement those of TNO. Universities create new knowledge, for example. We focus on the application of that knowledge, and companies implement the innovations that are realised with it. Our sister organisations that specialise in knowledge application are important partners.
Partners in the Netherlands
- DLO in the field of food and biobased research
- NLR in the field of defence and safety
- Deltares in the field of building and urban development in delta areas
- Marin in the field of maritime research
Partners in Europe
- Fraunhofer in the field of industry
- IMEC in the field of technology
- VTT in the field of industry
We help these organisations to realise their ambitions, and they help us to realise ours. Are you looking for an innovation partner? Can you help us with innovations? To find out more about the subjects we focus on, you can explore our website or contact us directly.
Collaborate with TNO as an SME entrepreneur in innovation projects
TNO wishes to boost innovation in subjects that are relevant to your company and to society. We focus on subjects that contribute to a digital, healthy, safe and sustainable society. That is why we connect people and knowledge to create innovations that increase the competitiveness of SMEs and sustainably enhance society's well-being.
What can TNO do for SME enterpreneurs?
TNO helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to innovate successfully and actively supports entrepreneurs with knowledge and expertise of technology in relation to users, market and vision.
TNO can help with:
- specific R&D technology-related issues
- finding the right partners
- sharing relevant knowledge
TNO participates in various domestic and international partnerships in which we like to involve entrepreneurs.
TNO Innovation Platform
The TNO Innovation Platform contains a current range of projects and activities in which you can participate immediately. It is also the place to ask questions when looking for specific knowledge relating to R&D and innovation. We will be happy to help you with, for example, an expert session or a referral in our network. You can turn to us for domestic and international projects, purchasing knowledge licences, using state-of-the-art facilities and participating in interesting knowledge sessions.
TNO actively disseminates knowledge to SMEs in the following partnerships, also known as fieldlabs.
Dutch Optics Centre
The Dutch Optics Centre operates as a platform where businesses, branch organisations and knowledge institutions work together on the development and/or production of high-tech optical and opto-mechanical products.
Smart connected supplier network
The Smart Connected Supplier Network (SCSN) fieldlab is an initiative of HTSM, Brainport Industries, software suppliers and TNO to support the high-tech manufacturing industry in digitalising the chain.
Flexible manufacturing fieldlab
The Flexible Manufacturing fieldlab parties work together to demonstrate the possibilities offered by digitalisation and robotics.
Building and Technology Innovation Centre (BTIC)
Public authorities, knowledge institutions and market players in the building and technology sector join forces in the Building and Technology Innovation Centre (BTIC) to create long-term knowledge programmes.
VoltaChem is an industry-driven Shared Innovation Programme for the electrification of the chemical industry initiated by TNO and the Chemicals Top Sector. Read more about VoltaChem.
Start-ups and scale-ups
TNO helps your start-up by offering our technical expertise, our excellent research and our modern facilities. We have experts in almost every field. TNO's aim is to help Dutch entrepreneurs develop their products and their business.
Do you have a start-up or scale-up and need research, consultancy or experimental facilities? TNO is the largest organisation for applied research in the Netherlands with experts in dozens of disciplines. From building innovations to child health, from sustainable transport to strategic analyses and from circular economy to space instrumentation. TNO does it all! Contact us or read on for more information about the services we offer and the current start-up initiatives we are involved in.
Creating innovations requires collaboration, and that is possible only with partners. In order to support you as an SME entrepreneur even better in innovation projects, we cooperate with various organisations:
- MKB Nederland (SME Netherlands) and TNO underline with their cooperation the importance of innovation for the development of SMEs.
- MKB Servicedesk and TNO and have joined forces to support companies in their innovation.
- The Chamber of Commerce and TNO cooperate in innovation-oriented knowledge transfer to SMEs.
- RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) cooperates with TNO in finding a sound financing scheme for its SME relations.
We also cooperate frequently with universities, knowledge institutions and public authorities.
Get in touch
Are you working on innovation and do you have an R&D issue that TNO can help you with? Then get in touch with Nienke Dijkstra.
You can read about how AI is educated in Chapter 1. How can we make clear to AI which goals we want to pursue as humans? Andhow can we ensure intelligent systems will always function in service of society?
Innovation with AI
What does that world look like in concrete terms? Using numerous examples, TNO has created a prognosis for the future in Chapter 2. Regarding construction, for example, in which AI will be used to check the quality, safety, and energy efficiency of buildings before they are actually built. Or healthcare, where robots will partly take over caregivers’ tasks and AI will be able to autonomously develop medicines.
Innovating with innovation AI
How AI will change research itself is explained in Chapter 3. For example, what role will AI be permitted to play in knowledge sharing? And what will happen when we make machines work with insurmountably large data sets?
David Deutsch on the development and application of AI
Peter Werkhoven, chief scientific officer at TNO, joins physicist, Oxford professor, and pioneer in the field of quantum computing, David Deutsch, for a virtual discussion. Deutsch set out his vision in 1997 in the book, The Fabric of Reality. Together, they talk about the significance of quantum computing for the development and application of AI. Will AI ever be able to generate ‘explained knowledge’ or learn about ethics from humans?
Rob de Wijk on the rise of AI in geopolitical context
Anne Fleur van Veenstra, director of science at TNO’s SA&P unit, interviews Rob de Wijk, emeritus professor of international relations in Leiden and founder of The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. Rob is also a much sought-after expert who appears on radio and television programmes. What does the rise of AI mean geopolitically and in armed conflicts?