Chapter 1 Foreword

We are still on track with
“Plus 5, minus 30”!

“Everything must change. Nothing stays the same. Everyone must change. No one stays the same. The young become the old. Mysteries do unfold. Cause that’s the way of time. Nothing and no one goes unchanged.”

These are lyrics from Bernard Ighner. Lyrics that meander on soft tones in many private rooms or out in the open. Did these lyrics and tones inspire a nationwide coalition of the willing in setting the scene for the future of our country? Scenes converted into missions and collective knowledge and innovation agendas for the four societal themes of the Dutch Cabinet Rutte III? Who knows?

What is known is that based on our recent decades of massive societal and economic success, almost everything must change. Inspired by the 25 missions of these four themes. Missions that should aid mysteries to unfold for a future-savvy society and an economy that’s as successful as in the decades before. For the societal theme health and care a “mission possible”. This is what our Top Sector Life Sciences & Health chairman Carmen van Vilsteren said when she witnessed the theme’s enthusiast coalition who had gathered in Utrecht for the launch of our coalition covenant on 31 October last year.

Up until February of this year, the Top Sectors coordinating these themes and missions prepared for what was already known as a really fast unfolding of the missions. Not an unfolding in series, but in parallel! All 25 in parallel and in a relatively very short period of time: in no more than 10 to 20 years from now. Let’s face it, such an immense enterprise implies that on a national scale, our country will become an unprecedented construction site for the years to come. So, when the Top Sector’s coalition partners were just about to roll up their sleeves, the COVID-19 pandemic started in China and arrived uninvited somewhat later in our country.

Since then, nothing has stayed the same, and no one has been left unchanged. And what’s more: the life sciences and health sector was challenged as never before. We collectively pay our full respects to all of the colleagues who gave their absolute best and more in the health and care sectors. Day after day, week after week, for months. Besides doing a tremendous job, they also experienced the worst impact of the virus on their patients and the loved ones of their patients. And, sadly, in too many cases even upon themselves. Our thoughts go out to all of them.

We collectively pay our full respects to all of the colleagues who gave their absolute best and more in the health and care sectors.

In the context of these heart-breaking developments, one may seriously hesitate about the need to discuss the impact COVID-19 has on those involved in the Top Sector – citizen initiatives, companies, knowledge institutes and government bodies. Still, all of them had to deal with the consequences, and many still are. Our sympathy goes out to all those who suffered considerably during the past months, and all the more to those who are still suffering the consequences. Besides offering our sympathy, we are pleased that we could provide moral support and substantial assistance to many of them.

Our Top Sector and Societal Theme governance and the Health~Holland executive office were able to continue and even upgrade their services. We would like to thank everybody for their efforts and, in particular, the teams of Andrea Stavenuiter (Project Recovery Team), Laila Aziz (PPP Allowance), Kirsten van Spronsen (GROZ and the Fieldlabs), Hanna Groen (Strategy), Jannica Swieringa (Communication) and Jolande Zijlstra (COVID-19 calls). These fine executive office “young talents” and their teams reached out to most of the many sector relations and helped them out wherever possible. And they frequently did so outside of office hours.

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