NLR became part of my portfolio two years ago, when I was appointed manager at the Innovation & Knowledge Directorate of the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs. I immediately visited the NLR establishments in Amsterdam and Flevoland Province. In Amsterdam, my tour included the Virtual Community Noise Simulator (VCNS), where I put on a pair of futuristic glasses and saw aircraft flying overhead, accompanied by the appropriate noise. This remarkable facility allows local residents and airport policymakers to 'experience' aircraft noise. This was one of the things that made the biggest impression on me during my first visit, confirming that NLR primarily uses its expertise to create customised solutions for societal challenges.
NLR's value for broader society is primarily reflected in the topics it addresses. NLR offers answers to research questions from various ministries, helping Infrastructure & the Environment work out how it could improve the safety and sustainability of Dutch airspace, for instance, or advising the Ministry of Defence on how it could better protect troops on international missions. Such topics are highly relevant for those departments, as they raise questions in society and rely on public funding. Moreover, NLR has close ties with European programmes like Horizon 2020, which aims to ensure more sustainable and efficient European air traffic. Such programmes, initiated and coordinated by the EU, are of great importance to the Netherlands. In short, NLR helps bring Brussels and The Hague closer together in the field of aerospace developments.
The knowledge that NLR has available and its multidisciplinary approach ensure that the institute is a valuable partner and intermediary. One of the things NLR does is to better streamline the contact between the different parties that make up the Golden Triangle, thus ensuring that knowledge organisations and universities better coordinate their research programmes, for instance. NLR brings parties together and takes new parties along in the slipstream of trade missions in Europe and beyond. NLR does a great job in this regard, ensuring that everyone has a common focus, working together to enhance the competitive strength of Dutch businesses.
This certainly goes for TO2, a cooperative network of applied knowledge organisations, in which NLR plays an integral part. The Ministry of Economic Affairs attaches great value to achieving even more concerted and efficient cooperation and to improving public awareness of the value of research conducted by such organisations. As chairman of the TO2 Group, NLR's Managing Director Michel Peters made an important contribution to this process. This confirms the first impression I got when I first visited NLR and found a knowledge organisation that is strongly focused on society and plays an important role in the Netherlands as an intermediary between government, businesses and knowledge organisations.