Dutch minister announces National Icons for 2016

Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp announced the three National Icons for 2016 on a popular television show on Tuesday evening. The prestigious prize is for groundbreaking innovations which provide solutions to global problems.

Winners National Icons 2016

Image: Ministry of Economic Affairs

Ten companies were shortlisted for the prize out of  60 entries. This year, there are three winners representing the sectors clean energy, food production and health. The competition is held every two years.

Minister Kamp: “Blue Energy, Growboxx and Light House are Dutch solutions for worldwide challenges in the area of energy, agriculture and health. The new National Icons operate at top international level and are ambassadors for Dutch innovation. All three have huge economic potential and contribute to the Netherlands' worldwide sustainable ambitions."

Blue energy

The first REDstack uses the energy produced by salt and fresh water in Reverse Electrodialysis (RED). When a small quantity of fresh water is added to salt water in a membrane pile (a stack), ‘osmotic energy’ is generated. This clean energy can be produced wherever rivers run into the sea, which where most of the world’s cities are located. The company will be further assisted by the Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment.

Revolutionary planter

The second winner is Groasis for its Growboxx®. An ‘intelligent bucket’ which can be used in arid regions to grow plants using up to 90% less water. The original design was made from plastic but the latest model is made from recycled paper and is biologically degradeable. Groasis will be helped by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Nuclear-waste-free isotopes

The third winner is a computer chip company, which is not usually at home in the health sector. However, like many great inventions ASML experts discovered by chance they could use their technology to make isotopes without producing nuclear waste and enriching uranium. ASML has set up a consortium to further develop and produce the isotopes - Light House, which will now receive assistance from the Ministry of Health.

Ministerial ambassador

The three companies will receive support from the Dutch government in the form of their own ambassador at ministerial level. This will expand their network at home and abroad and help them with finding partners, financing and with regulations, as well as putting their product in the European arena. They will enjoy extra attention and will join the ministers on state visits, trade missions and trade fairs.

Shortlisted innovations

Among the ten shortlisted companies were Microsure  - Robot-assisted microsurgery, Talking Traffic communicating electric cars, HIsarna – steel producer with less CO2 emissions, Whisstone – sustainable traffic noise reduction, Poop = gold – extraction of phosphorous from human excrement and Synthon – treatment of cancer directly at tumour cells.

Previous winners are: Bell test by Qu-tech, hybrid potatoes by Solynta, biodegradable needles by bioneedle, Stam cell organs by the  Hubrecht Organoid Technology foundation.