The Netherlands and the UK intensify cooperation on AI and mobility solutions

Trade mission of 45+ Dutch businesses to London brings together AI and mobility innovators from across the Channel, who are taking technologies in these fields to new levels

As North Sea neighbours, the interests of the Netherlands and the UK in tackling climate change, as well as stimulating sustainable trade and investments are closely entwined. On 18 & 19 October, a Dutch trade mission to London consolidates this momentum, bringing together businesses, knowledge institutes and local and national governments. A Letter of Intent with a value of 250 million euro (218 million GBP) will be signed by Robots of London and Wemeetz to further exploit the potential of AI in remote (net)working. Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher, and Dutch Minister for Environment, Vivianne Heijnen, as well as International Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, and other UK representatives will join the mission to share their insights.

The two-day event in London will focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) for net zero and Sustainable Urban Mobility solutions. The trade mission comes at a relevant time for innovators from both countries, as the recently published Global Innovation Index 2022 has ranked the UK (fourth) and the Netherlands (fifth) as the world’s most innovative countries.

Karel van Oosterom: “At the moment, both the UK and the Netherlands are facing strong economic headwinds. Many evolving challenges require international cooperation, such as the energy transition – currently complicated by the Russian invasion in Ukraine – or the effects of climate change. We have to keep in mind that entrepreneurial spirit can help us move forward in the transition to net zero. This mission will be about strengthening cooperation with UK innovators, as innovation plays a key role in future productivity growth and societally impactful progress in the field of clean technologies or mobility. According to the Dutch, driving innovation is all about collaboration.”

This is the first in-person trade mission undertaken by the Dutch government following the EU-UK Trade Agreement. In the past two and a half years, entrepreneurs on both sides of the Channel have had to adapt continuously to the new way of doing business. Nonetheless, the UK and the Netherlands are and remain close trading partners. The Netherlands is the UK’s 4th largest trading partner, accounting for 6.5% of total UK trade (DiT). Vice versa, the UK remains in the top 5 of the Netherlands’ closest trading partners (CBS). In 2021, the UK was the most important export destination for Dutch services after Germany and the US (CBS).

Artificial Intelligence (AI) driving the way to net zero

In the Netherlands, AI has been earmarked as one of the key innovation sectors. The Netherlands AI Coalition (NL AIC) recently received a total investment of 1.05 billion euro (about 890 million pounds) from the Dutch National Growth Fund over the period 2021-2027. According to Techleap, about 650 AI startups and scale-ups are based in the Netherlands, making it the country with the highest density of AI startups in the EU per capita. In 2019, the world’s largest research network for AI, CLAIRE (Confederation of Laboratories for Artificial Intelligence Research in Europe), was established in The Hague. However, to exploit the potential of AI as a force for good, cross-border cooperation is needed.

Ranked first in Europe and third globally, the UK is a global frontrunner in the development and adoption of AI technologies. The UK has an extensive AI ecosystem consisting of the catapult centres, government bodies, outstanding research institutions, accelerator programmes and a rich diversity in AI-companies. Moreover, the UK has recognised AI as a gamechanger in reaching net zero.  AI plays an important role in the sustainable energy transition by matching energy supply and demand more accurately. AI can also make industrial supply chains more sustainable by enabling predictive maintenance; creating digital twins and monitoring emissions more precisely. Dutch participants of the trade mission would like to work together with UK businesses and knowledge institutes on AI applications to help reach the goal of net zero in 2050.

Collaborating on sustainable urban mobility

The trade mission comes at an exciting time for the mobility sector. The Netherlands is known for its cycling culture, yet the Dutch government aims to shift to a higher gear with its recently published cycling policy. With a stimulus package of 50 million euro, it aims to get an extra 100,000 people commuting by bicycle over the next two and a half years in the interest of accessibility, public health and clean air. Following the launch of Active Travel England earlier this year and a widespread increase in cycling due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the volume of bicycles on the roads has increased. Sales soared to 70+% in 2020 and continue steadily, leading to a higher demand in secure and durable storing (as provided by FietsHangar) or intelligent solutions to increase safety in traffic (Sycada).

But there’s more to sustainable mobility than the humble bicycle. In both the Netherlands and the UK, serious efforts are made in the roll out of charging facilities for electrical vehicles. The UK has the ambition to increase the number of charging facilities to 2500 in 2030 and 6000 in 2035. Dutch businesses like Leap24, providing these stations for vans and trucks servicing (ultra) low emission zones, are therefore looking forward to explore partnerships in the UK. During the trade mission, a micro mobility report by Royal HaskoningDHV will be presented to outline the UK market, as well as opportunities for Dutch businesses including as 5G development, e-cargo or last mile journeys.