‘Without decisions there are no investments, and without investments there are no innovations. Solving the major societal challenges relating to mobility, circularity and energy, among others, involves many parties. As the Strategic Analyses & Policy unit we help government authorities, businesses and organisations take the necessary decisions by offering various forms of decision support,’ explains Suzanne van Kooten, managing director of the Strategic Analysis & Policy unit. Within TNO we bring together all conceivable disciplines to tackle cross-sector issues head on and bring about the required sustainable innovations.
When realising sustainable innovation, these are important elements: weighing up factors based on a complete set of criteria, and reaching agreement and understanding between stakeholders. In this area, we also assist companies in making strategic choices. We do this by creating transparency about the value of innovations for relevant stakeholders and we start the discussion about how stakeholders can add maximum value for each other. These efforts get joint, sustainable innovation off the ground.
Our knowledge of and experience with multidisciplinary, multistakeholder projects prompt European, national and regional government authorities to call on us regularly for assistance. For example, we are advising the European Commission on the design of the EU innovation agenda. We are also contributing knowledge to take EU thinking about mission-oriented research and policy to the next level. We carry out these sorts of activities both independently, as TNO, and together with knowledge institutes from other EU member states. For example, we are currently coordinating a large European project in which we are identifying the innovation issues affecting the energy transition. Additionally, we also contribute to the economic exploration of regions, such as the Amsterdam Metropolitan region.
Privacy is an example of a complex societal challenge on which TNO provides expertise from various perspectives. The Dutch government has asked us to help deliberate on legislation that treats both citizens and businesses fairly. In a context like this, TNO sees privacy not as a stumbling block but rather as a stimulus for innovation. For example, for giving consumers more control over the services they use. Lying at the heart of innovation related to privacy are themes like responsibility, empowerment, security, proactivity, ethics, and costs & benefits. For RESPECT4U, for example, these themes provided the basis for development. This is a tool that helps businesses and government authorities handle personal data.
Another form of innovation within our focus is the creation of new business models. The raw materials scanner, which we helped develop, allows businesses to see the extent to which their dependence on raw materials presents a risk. Under the BE+ programme, we are helping business parks to become energy positive, without this impacting the cash flow of the companies involved. And similarly there are countless other examples of parties that we are helping to develop new business models.