Responding to the rapidly accelerating digitisation of manufacturing industry while, at the same time, achieving the desired economic and social impact. That’s what Smart Response is all about. TNO uses Smart Response to investigate the impacts of innovative technologies, ranging from changes in ecosystems, sectors, and the labour market, to the knock-on effect on new business models.

Interested in Smart Respons? For more information contact Tom van der Horst


The Dutch manufacturing sector aspires to become the most flexible and best digitally interconnected production network in Europe. TNO plays a key part in the task of making that aspiration a reality. However, while Flexible Manufacturing, Smart Work, Data Sharing, and Digital Twinning focus on technical research, Smart Response is all about strategy and policy. That completes the approach.

In our programmes and projects, we are increasingly adopting a multidisciplinary approach,” says Claire Stolwijk of TNO. “This enables us to link the various technical focus areas to strategy and policy. In this way we are orchestrating the digitisation of manufacturing industry, while ensuring that the preconditions are well structured.

Four main propositions

The Smart Response programme has four main propositions. First of all, TNO carries out trend analyses, which help us to detect and interpret developments at an early stage. What impacts are technological Smart Industry developments expected to have on the economy and on society at large? And, conversely, what steps can we take to ensure that the economy and society take advantage of this?

The corona crisis, coupled with supply problems affecting commodities from distant countries, has sparked a debate about whether industry should endeavour to become self-sufficient again. Dr Stolwijk: “We are dealing with global value chains and end users in other countries. Nevertheless, we certainly reserve the right to pursue those technologies in which we want to be strong and have an impact, so that we can invest in them and maintain our lead.”

Providing insight into opportunities and challenges

The second main proposition is to support the decision-making process by providing insight into opportunities and challenges. For instance, while clear oligopolistic tendencies (such as Amazon Web Services) and monopolistic tendencies (such as Facebook) have emerged in business-to-consumer platforms (B2C), this is not yet the case for business-to-business platforms (B2B).

“We see enormous market power in the B2C platform market, as exemplified by Facebook. Market forces have become largely ineffective”, Claire Stolwijk explains. “As things stand, the B2B platform market is fragmenting. Excessive fragmentation is inefficient and it results in higher costs. One reason for this is that it forces suppliers to use a wide variety of platforms, each with their own set of standards. At the same time, it means that you have to be careful to ensure that B2B platforms don’t go the same way as B2C platforms. We help to prevent this, by means of both policy-based solutions and technological solutions.”

Orchestrating major innovation programmes

In the third main proposition, TNO is orchestrating major innovation programmes with public-private parties. For example, seven field labs in the Smart Industry Hub Zuid-west (SMITZH) are pursuing the further development  of Smart Industry solutions in partnership with companies. TNO uses Smart Response to orchestrate these innovation programmes. This means bringing parties together, helping them to formulate a shared vision, setting up and coordinating the programme, and monitoring its implementation.

One field lab that has made use of Smart Response expertise is the Smart Connected Supplier Network (SCSN) at the Brainport Industries Campus in Eindhoven. Here, the partners involved focus on digital cooperation in the supply chains of large companies such as ASML, Thales, and Philips Healthcare. This means that data is exchanged more efficiently and reliably, while time-to-market is also improved. TNO used analyses and simulations to make the added value for manufacturing companies transparent. One example was cost savings, another was easier access to a larger network of companies.

Monitoring the impact

Finally, the fourth main proposition involves monitoring and measuring the impact of technological innovation and innovation programmes. What are the benefits of investing in an innovation programme, in terms of job growth, new technologies, patents, and so on?

Want to find out more or take part?

Can TNO assist you by highlighting and measuring the impact of Smart Industry, or by providing insights into the cost savings generated by investments in new innovations? Do you have any questions about new business models? Perhaps because you are considering a shift from the sale of products towards servitisation? Alternatively, you may be seeking someone who can boost the impact of your innovation programme? Check out the projects at our website, or contact Claire Stolwijk directly.

Strategy study

TNO helps companies and government agencies by conducting strategy studies in various areas. We offer support with the development of a Smart Industry strategy and the setting up of innovation partnerships and implementation programmes. To do this, we first conduct reviews, for example of the international development of Smart Industry and Industry 4.0. We are helping European, national and regional governments to draw up agendas for action in order to get Smart Industry moving in concrete consortia (known as digital innovation hubs and fieldlabs). The recently published Implementation Agenda for Smart Industry is a good example of this. Here, TNO is contributing not only the technological expertise related to Industry 4.0 in, but also knowledge in the field of organising fieldlabs, developing their business models and business plans, and in relation to their financing.

Smart Manufacturing Industrial Application

A good example of the application of strategy in Smart Industry is the SMITZH programme that TNO has set up together with the province of South Holland, the metropolitan region of Rotterdam - The Hague and Innovation Quarter: Smart Manufacturing Industrial Application in South Holland. Working together in this arrangement are eight fieldlabs and various companies, all focused on developing Smart Industry for aerospace and the maritime sector. The automatisation of production lines for composites is one of the programme lines.

Are you interested in a strategy study for your Smart Industry or would you like more information about how TNO can help you? If so, get in touch with Tom van der Horst.

Strategy for Smart Industry


Dr. Claire Stolwijk

  • Innovation policy
  • public-private partnerships
  • Smart Industry
  • Key Enabling Technologies