Speech Mona Keijzer 8 oktober bij jubileum innovatie attachés

Toespraak van staatssecretaris Keijzer (EZK) tijdens het jubileum van het innovatie attaché netwerk op 8 oktober 2018op het ministerie van EZK in Den Haag. De tekst is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today the Innovation Attaché Network celebrates its 65th anniversary. So it’s getting on in years. But this isn’t a retirement party. Quite the opposite!


We’re here to celebrate a network that has proven its value for the ministry, time and again. A network of 45 people, spread over fifteen countries – our priority countries for cooperation in the field of innovation. They are our partners in the import and export of knowledge. And, above all, our partners in developing new products, services and production processes.

In the 1950s, the network was set up on a very small scale. As a means of looking beyond our geographical and technological borders. Today, it’s a network that helps our top sectors, companies and knowledge institutions explore new frontiers, in the broadest sense.

You heard some of our customers give glowing references this afternoon. I’d like to thank them for their kind words, which speak volumes.

Our innovation attachés know who the relevant parties are, both in the Netherlands and in their host countries. By linking these parties, our attachés make innovation happen. And innovation can lead to sustainable economic growth. Innovation can also offer solutions to some of the major challenges facing society today. So this only increases the network’s relevance.

Our innovation attachés keep us up to date on global developments in key technologies like artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, biotech, robotics and photonics.

They help promising Dutch companies enter new markets.

Like our small, but select cybersecurity companies, that have successfully entered an otherwise closed market in Japan.

They help Dutch companies apply for innovation grants in countries like France.

And it was thanks to our innovation attachés that a Dutch SME with a sustainable process for dying fabrics … gained access to the market of the world’s largest textile producer.

They help our top sectors carry out their international plans. And they promote the globally acclaimed Dutch model of public-private innovation partnerships around the world. Making it an international model.

We boost our earning capacity by working with the best partners in science, technology and innovation in the most interesting markets. And the same goes for our partner countries. Like Brazil, which I visited in August. An enormous country, and a very complicated one. Many of our competitors have given up there.

I’m planning to stay in my role for at least 3 years. And in that time, I intend to meet with attachés from as many countries as possible.

In Brazil, I was impressed by how efficiently our innovation attachés link-up Dutch companies, knowledge institutions and government bodies to Brazilian counterparts. It’s a forward-looking strategy that enables us to build trust and establish long-term relationships. And that paves the way for more trade, and reciprocal investment.

The Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation has underscored the importance of diplomacy in these fields, and the value of the innovation attaché network.

I’d like to thank the council’s chair, Professor Rosenthal, for his contribution this afternoon. Not only for his warm praise but also for his efforts to get the message across to government actors in The Hague.

Dear innovation attachés, this is your party. It’s a party that your customers and the ministry – as commissioning body – are happy to join.

Congratulations on this – our – anniversary. At the age of 65, the innovation attaché network is no spring chicken, but it’s still full of energy and young at heart. Retirement is the last thing on your minds.

Cheers!