After an economic crisis of seven years with the highest impact since the second World War, the Netherlands faces a spectacular growth in investments in construction activities. Because of underinvestment by governments and deferred maintenance in combination with changed societal claims there is now the need for volume and especially innovative production processes that provide ‘new and smart’ solutions. How can governments, construction industry and Research and Development institutes create an innovative environment to fulfil the societal needs of the Netherlands?


The Netherlands faces big challenges:

  • The upcoming 25 years the construction industry will built for around 1600 billion euro’s. For example, there is a need for 1.000.000 new houses, 2.400.000 existing houses need to be reconstructed and adjusted to meet sustainability goals. Because of the greying population exiting and new real estate must be deeloped for combination of living and care solutions. 7.500 primary schools are more than 30 years old and do not meet the requirements of climate control and technological changes. The infrastructure will demand 380 billion euro of investments to keep up the standard of today. 40.000 bridges should be replaced because of the current standards, of which 4.500 on short term. Investment will increase in water protection programs.
  • The requirements and claims from society on inestment in construction has increased. There are the environmental and sustainability goals resulting from the Paris agreement. In the north of the Netherlands seismic developments will demand new forms of reconstruction and replacements to guarantee safety of the inhabitants. The technological developments due to new materials, production techniques, information and communication technology rapidly change the way of production. Demographic changes like a greying population will have effect on housing and spacial planning.
  • During the economic crisis of the last seen years the construction sector in the Netherlands has been struck hard. The decline of production was the highest in Europe. The companies have been restructuring, cutting costs heavily and have released 100.000 workers. The government has also cut spending and reduced the government procurement agencies. Thereby the knowledge of construction and procurement within the government has been drained away. The knowledge institutions like universities, research agencies have also faced budget cuts and instead of collaboration, competition between the institutions has taken part.
  • In the Dutch construction market there are large amount of indiidual public principals. For example there are 7.500 boards of primary school, 400 municipalities, 600 housing associations etc. Unless the objects are comparable, they make individual decisions and are limited equipped to act as an professional and launching principals. The market lacks an invest programme in time and challenge. In this context there is no incentive for (individual) companies to work on structural innovation.   


Dutch Construction Agenda (in Dutch: De Bouwagenda)

To create collaborative and innovative processes, products and alternative solutions, the national government launched ‘The construction agenda’ with support of organised construction industry, public principals, consumers, financial institutions, and universities and other R&D institutions. All parties have to work together to meet the challenges. Major leaps forward in quality, scale and co-operation are essential. A revolution is what we need. The ‘Construction Agenda’ defines the existing challenges and the ‘roadmaps’ in which mixed teams will work in pre-competition on innovative procurement procedures and develop joined investment programmes. The programmes have a large(r) scale of comparable investment objects like bridges, primary schools and commitment of contractors, companies, consumers, financial institutions and R&D institutions. ‘The Construction Agenda’ aims an investment programme of 70 billion for the next 4 years cumulating till 220 billion in 2040.

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