The National ThinkTank Foundation was founded in 2005 and aims to positively impact Dutch society by presenting an independent vision, thorough analyses and innovative solutions. To achieve this goal the foundation facilitates an annual National ThinkTank with twenty highly talented PhD or Master students or recent graduates with backgrounds in a range of different academic disciplines.
About the annual National ThinkTank
During a period of four months the ThinkTank produces visionary and practical solutions for a yearly theme in sectors such as education, healthcare or sustainability. The project is facilitated by project leaders of our partner McKinsey & Company and supported by a large number of partner universities, private companies and public institutions. After the ThinkTank participants continue to embark on a range of different careerpaths and become members of the foundation’s alumni-network, a hotbed for new initiatives and future leaders. Together with our growing number of partners and alumni, the foundation continues to seek social innovation and impact.
The annual ThinkTank opens with an intensive summer school, where the participants to boost their analytical, conceptual, and creative skills and quickly develop expertise on the topic by engaging with experts, trainers and the ThinkTank’s partners. During the ensuing month, the participants map out the main problems and challenges, by working closely together with experts within the field from business, government or the academic world. During two subsequent weeks of training and reflection, participants are prepared for the next phase: idea generation. In this phase they focus oncreating solutions and workable policy advice. Two months later, the final results are presented to partners of the foundation and representatives from the public, private and academic world. Subsequently, if feasible, the solutions are implemented either by the participants themselves, partners or other interested parties.
National ThinkTank 2020
The National ThinkTank 2020 will analyse and come up with smart and innovative solutions to improve the resilience of the Dutch middle class, which is under pressure due to – among others – flexibilisation of the labour market and the lack of affordable housing.
National ThinkTank 2019
In 2019, the ThinkTank focused on the following theme: a healthy, resilient, inclusive and fair digital society.
Digitization has brought our society many comforts. Online banking, Whatsapp and dating websites have made the lives of many easier and perhaps, a little more enjoyable too. Additionally, multiple e-health innovations exist with the promise of making our societies healthier. However, these changes also create challenges. Digital developments are implemented at an exceedingly quick rate and some groups in society have trouble keeping up with that pace. Is it a responsibility of or an obligation for citizens to learn digital skills? Or should offline options for essential societal institutions remain in place, to ensure citizens’ free choice in adopting digital skills? Furthermore, privacy scandals, such as data leaks at healthcare insurance companies and mass (illegal) data transactions by data brokers or even by social media platforms are the order of the day. Nowadays, it seems no one’s data is safe. What does this mean for our trust in digital applications? Are we still in charge of our own data? And who owns data? Finally, what about digital resilience? Figures show burnouts have occurred significantly more in the past decade, not to mention the large amount of time children spend in front of a screen on a daily basis.
Participants Sem Nouws and Elsbeth van den Hazel (2019) wrote the policy document Data to the People, in which they focus on the ethical aspects surrounding the collection of data from individual internet users. They briefly outline the present situation with regards to our digital society. This outline gives an indication of its negative aspects, and enables us to propose concrete policy measures in order to improve the present situation. This policy document takes Dutch society as its starting point, within the context of the European Union, but the proposed policies are applicable to other countries as well.
The National Think Tank 2018 formulated ten solutions to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy. These solutions range from small and practical to major revisions for the long term. They focus on different target groups and sectors to include society as widely as possible in the proposals: governments, businesses, consumers, education, the construction sector and the food industry.
The National ThinkTank 2017 focused on an inclusive labor market. The research question was: “How can we stimulate and utilize the opportunities that our future labor market offers so that everyone in the Netherlands has a perspective on work and can contribute to our society?”
National ThinkTank 2016
The National ThinkTank 2016 examined the topic Learning from the Future, with a focus on vocational education. The research question was: “How can learning in the Netherlands be organized and facilitated, so that the talent of the individual student blossoms and learning keeps up with our changing society and labor market?” Within this theme, the National ThinkTank focused on qualifying education and connecting learning to work.
National ThinkTank 2015
The National ThinkTank 2015 has focused on the following main research question: “How can we organize and facilitate education and learning in the Netherlands, in such a way that individual talent flourishes, and that learning better reflects the constantly changing environment?” While researching this question, the National ThinkTank 2015 identified four main aspects: the societal objectives of learning (e.g. personal development), the development of young children, innovations in education, and the role of the educational system in the Netherlands. The ten solutions presented by the National ThinkTank 2015 cover five main themes, corresponding to the bottlenecks identified in the analyses.