Nanotechnology in The Netherlands: Market Report

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Nanotechnology Organizations
Nanotechnology Companies
Nanotechnology Research and Education
Recent Developments


The Netherlands is located between Germany and Belgium in Western Europe. It covers an area of 41,543 km2 and in April 2013 had an estimated population of 16,785,403. The Netherlands include a number of overseas territories. Along with Belgium and Luxembourg, The Netherlands forms the Benelux economic union. The Netherlands is one of the founding members of the EU, OECD, NATO, and WTO.

In 2011, The Netherlands was reported to have the tenth-highest per capita income in the world. The GDP of the country in 2012 was $709.5 billion. It has the fifth-largest economy in the Euro-zone. The largest industrial sector is the food industry. Other major industries include metallurgy, electrical goods, machinery, chemicals, and tourism.

Nanotechnology Organisations

The Netherlands has a number of organisations and networks committed to promoting nanoscience as well as exploring the challenges and future of nanotechnology. A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organisations in The Netherlands is given below:

NanoNed - NanoNed is a consortium of 7 universities, TNO and Philips. NanoNed is financially supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. The highest body within NanoNed that takes decisions on the program is the NanoNed board. This board is mandated by the consortium partners to make policy and to take decisions about the organisation of the program, to grant individual projects and to organize overall activities for NanoNed.

Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) - FOM promotes, co-ordinates and finances fundamental physics research in The Netherlands. It is an autonomous foundation responsible to the physics division of the national research council NWO. Its annual budget is 91.8 million euros.

Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) - NWO funds top researchers, steers the course of Dutch science by means of research programmes and by managing the national knowledge infrastructure. One of its focus areas is strengthening The Netherlands' international position in Nanosciences and Nanotechnology by funding fundamental and applied nano research.

NanoNextNL- NanoNextNL is a consortium of more than one hundred companies, universities, knowledge institutes and university medical centres, which is aimed at research into micro and nanotechnology. The total sum involved for NanoNextNL is 250 million Euros, partly funded by the members and partly by Government of The Netherlands.

Nanotechnology Companies

Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary field that involves many industries such as water treatment and food industry to medicine, information technology and space research. The major nanotechnology companies in The Netherlands that cater to these diverse sectors are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them:

Phenom-World - Phenom-World is a leading global supplier of desktop scanning electron microscopes and imaging solutions for submicron scale applications. Their SEM-based systems are used in a broad range of markets and applications.

Originally a part of FEI Company, Phenom World is constantly innovating to bring faster, sharper SEM imaging capabilities to their users, whilst maintaining the Phenom products' legendary flexibility and ease-of-use.

AkzoNobel - AkzoNobel is the largest global paints and coatings company and a major producer of specialty chemicals. They supply industries and consumers worldwide with innovative products and are passionate about developing sustainable answers for their customers. Their portfolio includes well known brands such as Dulux, Sikkens, International and Eka. Headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, they are consistently ranked as one of the leaders in the area of sustainability, with operations in more than 80 countries.

Aquamarijn - In 1994, Aquamarijn was founded to develop high flux, precision microfiltration membranes, "microsieve membranes™". They create new technologies for filtration, (micro) analysis, cell detection, nanopatterning and micro moulding using nano and micro engineering. They specialize in MEMS micromachining, polymeric micro moulding and fiber spinning techniques.

ASML - ASML is the world's leading provider of lithography systems for the semiconductor industry, manufacturing complex machines that are critical to the production of integrated circuits or chips. Headquartered in Veldhoven, The Netherlands, ASML is traded on Euronext Amsterdam and NASDAQ under the symbol ASML.

Nano-FM - Nano-FM is a privately owned Dutch biomaterials company with a strong background in molecular self-assembly that was founded in December 2010. Nano-FM focuses on the development of synthetic micro-environments that allow mammalian cells to grow optimally and maintain their fully differentiated characteristics using its proprietary self assembling nanofibrous hydrogel technology.

Nanomi- Nanomi is an independent, privately owned Dutch high-tech company that specializes in the development of precisely defined functional emulsions and microspheres. The company was founded in 2004 as an independent spin-off from the University of Twente, and is located in the East of The Netherlands. It has been profitable from the start, and despite being a relatively new business, is already involved in developing products for several Forbes 2000 companies worldwide.

Nanosens - Nanosens develops and utilizes the latest developments and advancements of the emerging field of nanotechnology to make smart, portable and inexpensive sensing systems for ultrasensitive and rapid detection of biological and chemical species. Nanosens works to bring innovative ideas and concepts from the sensor laboratories to the application worlds (I2A). They focus on the sensor application areas that have a great impact on society and on industry, such as nanobio and chemical sensors for life sciences and healthcare (medical), security (warfare), and water control, as well as nano gas sensors for the automotive, pollution control, safety and health.

MAPPER Lithography-MAPPER Lithography was founded in 2000. Today the company employs over 200 people and is still growing rapidly. MAPPER is developing a machine for the semiconductor industry and is looking to the future.

Enceladus - Enceladus is a young, small-scale drug development company. Enceladus introduced Nanocort, a liposomal pharmaceutical that contains anti-inflammatory corticosteroid and selectively targets the actual sites of pathology in severe inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and multiple sclerosis (MS), and in cancer. Nanocort may offer a novel, highly effective therapeutic intervention strategy. In a range of experimental disease models it was shown that intravenous treatment results in selective accumulation in diseased areas in the body. Consequently, a dramatic increase in intensity and durability of the therapeutic effect was shown, with minimal adverse effects.

Innosieve Diagnostics BV - Innosieve Diagnostics BV is a product company with its own R&D facilities. The company acts in the field of innovative diagnostic applications. Innosieve Diagnostics is focused on the development and sales of easy-to-use, micro/nanotechnology-based applications for the detection of micro-organisms, eventually to even omit the use of enrichments. To accomplish this, they have strong expertise in sample preparation, molecular diagnostics and immunological assays, especially in the area of detection of microbial organisms.

XiO Photonics - XiO Photonics is an innovative company with a strong competence in products based on Integrated Optics, Light-on-a-chip. XiO Photonics primarily focuses on the design and assembly of modules that incorporate the optical chips for products in visible light applications. XiO is located in Enschede, The Netherlands. XiO first class team has in-depth knowledge and years of hands-on experience in micro- and nanotechnology, design, fabrication and assembly technology.

 Nanotechnology Research and Education

The Netherlands is home to a few universities that offer research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Given below is a list of universities and academic institutions in The Netherlands and the academic courses or research opportunities that they offer that relate to the field of nanotechnology.

Department of Quantum Nanoscience - is a part of the Delft University of Technology. The three research profiles within department are: Quantum Theory, Quantum Information Science and Quantum Devices & Materials. The research is supported by state-of-the-art facilities, in particular the cleanroom facility Kavli Nanolab Delft for the fabrication and inspection of functional nanostructures.

Radboud University Nijmegen- The Faculty of Science at the University offers a Master’s programme in Physics and Astronomy, which provides the student with a chance to specialize in Nanomaterials and Molecules. The Master’s programme in Natural Science offers the student with opportunities to explore many fields including nanoscience.

University of Twente - is a university located in Enschede. It hosts MESA+, Institute for Nanotechnology which is one of the largest nanotechnology research institutes in the world. Another initiative is the Nano Electronic Materials group.

Eindhoven University of Technology – The Department of Mechanical Engineering promotes the Micro- and Nano-Scale Engineering group, which focuses on microfabrication methods and microdevice design.

AMOLF - AMOLF is one of the research laboratories of the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM), part of The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). AMOLF's yearly budget is 14 million Euros. AMOLF carries out research in two main directions: Physics of Biomolecular systems and Nanophotonics. The research is organized within three research Departments: Molecular Biophysics, Systems Biophysics and Nanophotonics that work closely together. AMOLF's research is carried out in five research laboratories that all contain equipments that are shared among research groups. All laboratories are open to external users.

Nanotechnology for Development- Nanotechnology for Development is a research project that aims at understanding how nanotechnology can contribute to development. By investigating ways people deal with nanotechnology in Kenya, India and The Netherlands, the project will flesh out appropriate ways for governing nanotechnology for development. Four PhD researchers involved in the project will focus on cultures of innovation, knowledge brokerage, traveling technology, and risk governance in Kenya, India and The Netherlands. The program is coordinated by Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

University of Amsterdam - The Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences promotes the Analytical Chemistry Research Group, whose main research objectives are advanced spectroscopic and separation techniques and data analysis ('chemometrics'). A new focus in the research programme is on advanced chip-based separation systems based on nanotechnology.

Recent Developments

The Colloids and Nanomedicine 2012 conference took place between 15 and 17, July in Amsterdam. The focus of this conference was on the rapidly growing Nanomedicine area. The conference provided a platform for exchange of ideas and discussions with international scientists and engineers working in the fields of biomaterials, drug delivery, sensors, imaging and diagnostics.

The Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies (SNET) Conference 2012 was held between 22nd and 25th October at the University of Twente. SNET is an international association that promotes intellectual exchange and critical inquiry relating to the advancement of nanoscience and emerging technologies in society. The conference attracted scholars, practitioners and policy makers from around the world who are focused on the development and implications of emerging technologies.

In January 2013, researchers from the NanoElectronics Group at the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology joined with the Paul Drude Institute in Berlin to develop a low-cost and simple approach for generating ultrahigh-frequency (up to 23 GHz) surface acoustic waves (SAWs) in silicon substrates. Although the acoustic waves were similar to earthquakes, the amplitude was smaller than a nanometer. The effect of this acoustic wave at the nanoscale is phenomenal, as it can capture and transport electrons inside silicon. This phenomenon can be widely applied in many areas such as the definition of a universal current standard, spintronic devices, single photon sources, and quantum information technology. This discovery is said to be the highest surface acoustic wave frequencies ever realized in a silicon-based system.

In terms of nanotechnology policy, the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment hosted an invitation only conference to debate the status of EU legislation on nanomaterials, in particular, whether or not existing legislation is sufficient. The Chairman's report indicates that immediate action is required "to address the need for information and public concern and that databases or registries will be indispensable for gathering the necessary information".

Researchers form TU Delft, participating in and EU project called W2Plastics have used iron oxide nanoparticles in a process called magnetic density separation to sort plastic waste into different types (by polymer type) in a single step.

Dutch scientists at the MESA+ at the University of Twente have succeeded in building 3-D fractals at the nanoscale using a technique called corner lithography.

Meanwhile a team of researchers from University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and Aalto University in Finland have collaborated to create single atom contacts between gold and graphene nanoribbons. This could be a step towards graphene transistors.

University of Utrecht researchers have also developed a ferro-nanocatalyst that produces Syngas from wood waste. Syngas is very similar to naphtha and can be used in the production of plastics.

Europe's micro and nanoelectronics industry, including those in the Netherlands could stand to benefit from a 5 billion Euro pledge from the EU to stimulate the sector which they believe lags behind the US and Asia.

Despite the small size and population, The Netherlands is a country that is demonstrating that size is not important and they are producing a high volume of nanotech advancements. This could increase if the EU funding for nanoelectronics materialises putting them in a strong position moving forwards. This is a country definitely worth watching in the near future.


  1. Industry meets to discuss the need for EU register of nanomaterials
  2. Sorting plastic waste: a magnetic game
  3. Building 3-D Fractals On a Nano Scale
  4. Spot-welding graphene nanoribbons atom by atom
  5. Can Plastic Be Made from Algae?
  6. EU pledges 5 billion euros funding for electronics research


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