Research And Innovation In Sport (Netherland Case)

Sport has significant economic impact through, for example, innovative sports products, events and facilities. The government promotes innovation and sports research with a view to helping elite athletes get better results and promoting participation in sports. But supporting the sports sector also has economic and public health benefits. 

Sport and the Dutch economy

Every year, businesses invest millions of euros in amateur and elite sport, often as sponsors. But the number of companies operating in the sports sector is also growing. The Netherlands already has several world market leaders, such as suppliers of sports equipment, synthetic turf and stadium construction. Dutch sport companies have a total export value of around €1.1 billion.

Business opportunities at major sporting events

More and more businesses are using sporting events to promote their products, such as synthetic turf, lighting or security systems. Platforms like Holland Sports and Industry bring together the sporting world, businesses, research institutions and the government in a bid to match foreign demand with Dutch products.

Collecting data for sports policy

In order to formulate an effective sports policy, the government needs data (key indicators) for example on:

  • the amount of daily physical activity or sport the average Dutch person engages in,
  • the number of swimming pools, sports centres and playing fields in the Netherlands,
  • the Netherlands’ position in Olympic and world championship medal rankings.

The government promotes the collection and sharing of this type of data, since it is useful to municipal and central authorities, the sports sector and other interested parties. Comparing data collected over a number of years often yields new insights.

Innovation in sport

Technological developments can help Dutch elite athletes get better results, and also make sport and physical activity easier and more enjoyable for people in general. Typical incentives could include innovative materials, new ways of playing a game, adapted sports facilities, or a smartphone app that records the amount of activity a person does each day.

InnosportNL, with its InnoSportLabs, is a joint venture of universities, the business community and the sports world.

Sports research

Central government encourages research and innovation in sport. Its priorities are:

  • boosting performance (especially at elite level) and promoting innovation;
  • increasing participation in sport and the importance of sport within the community;
  • promoting vitality and health through sport and physical activity.

These points are set out in the government’s Sports Research Programme, which will be expanded in 2015 to include sports technology. A team composed of representatives from government, the business community, sport and research will decide how and what to prioritise.

Sharing knowledge about sport

Central government encourages organisations to acquire and share knowledge, so that the people involved in sport professionally have reliable information and can keep up with the latest scientific insights. From 2016, there will be a single central government portal providing comprehensive information about sport and physical activity.