Toespraak van de Prins van Oranje bij het Nederlands-Turkse Brainport Innovation and Career Seminar te Istanbul

10 november 2012

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

As we reflect on 400 years of diplomatic relations between Turkey and the Netherlands, many things may come to mind. But science, technology and innovation may not necessarily be among the first on the list. This is unfortunate. And unjust.

Because since the very start of our relations in the early 17th century, the exchanges between our two nations have never been restricted to heads of state and diplomats. On the contrary. Traders, explorers, scientists and artists have always been key players too. This exchange of people, goods and ideas has benefited both sides. And for centuries, this great city was often the centre of gravity in the economic and scientific exchange between East and West.

In those days, the Dutch were true innovators. And we still are today.

Just look at a sector that is close to my heart: water. In the early 17th century, pioneers like Simon Stevin and Jan Leeghwater broke new ground in engineering, hydraulics and land reclamation. Today, Dutch engineers still lead the world in delta technology, agricultural hydrology and wastewater treatment.

One project I recently visited was Pharmafilter. A revolutionary new system that cleans waste water from hospitals, filtering out even the smallest traces of medicine and other hazardous waste like syringes, and producing clean energy in the process. Using a totally new concept. Resulting in a cleaner and safer hospital, and a cleaner environment.

Another example is Nereda. An innovative and advanced biological wastewater treatment that purifies water using the unique features of aerobic granular biomass. Unlike conventional processes, the purifying bacteria concentrate naturally in compact granules with superb settling properties. Requiring less than half the surface area of traditional treatment plants, this system is ideal for 21st century megacities. It can also reuse the waste to create an alternative source of energy.

We see dirt. These innovators see energy, fresh water and raw materials hiding in the dirt. Energy, fresh water and raw materials that the world desperately needs in order to survive. There is no such thing as waste water, just water wasted.
Ideas like this are good for people, planet and profit. Ideas like this arise in the Netherlands.

Ladies and gentlemen, these hydro engineers do not innovate in isolation. Their efforts are part of a partnership between the public sector, businesses and knowledge institutions ─ the 'golden triangle' or 'triple helix'. The Dutch government promotes this principle in nine key sectors; sectors in which we believe our country excels.

Water, energy and life sciences.
High-tech, chemicals and horticulture.
Agri-food, logistics and the creative industry.

Brainport Eindhoven Region is a showcase for this approach. Here, a wide range of world-class companies and knowledge institutions share and multiply know-how before bringing products to market. And here the Dutch government works at local, regional and national level to create favorable conditions.
It has been a huge success. In fact, last year Eindhoven was named the smartest region in the world by the international think tank IFC, scoring higher than the regions around Seoul and Silicon Valley. That's quite an achievement.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Turkey is an important economic partner for the Netherlands. My country is the 10th-biggest market for Turkish products. The Netherlands is the third-biggest investor in Turkey, second only to Germany and the UK. And trade flows between our countries have tripled to seven billion dollars a year in the last decade. But we can do more, especially in the field of high-tech and innovation.

Let's be honest. International companies cannot survive in splendid isolation. They need technological partnerships with other companies and knowledge institutions around the world. They need joint investment in research. And they need good contacts with universities so they can find first-class employees.
This is true for companies both in Turkey and in the Netherlands. We are in this race together. So we should join forces in the field of high-tech and innovation.

Ladies and gentlemen, this year we celebrate 400 years of diplomatic ties between our two countries. I believe that a high-tech and innovation partnership would provide a key foundation for another 400 years of excellent relations between Turkey and the Netherlands.

The Brainport concept gives us a fantastic framework. The Networks of Turkish and Dutch graduates, both in the Netherlands and here at the Bosporus, could play a crucial role.
Imagine student exchange programmes. Imagine a flow of highly-skilled professionals between our countries. Imagine innovative business deals between Dutch and Turkish companies. I hope we can turn these imaginings into reality. Starting today.

Thank you.