Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research

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Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research
Koningin Julianaplein met Nieuw Babylon.jpg
New Babylon (nl) in The Hague, head office of TNO since 2015
Abbreviation TNO
Formation 1932
Purpose applied and contract research
Headquarters The Hague, Netherlands

Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (TNO; English: Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) is an independent research organisation in the Netherlands that focuses on applied science.

TNO’s mission is to connect people and knowledge to create innovations that boost the sustainable competitive strength of industry and well-being of society. TNO works in collaboration with partners and focusses on nine societal domains. As an organisation operating under public law, TNO has an independent position and based on these preconditions, TNO creates independent and reliable solutions to the grand challenges our societies face. The approximately 2,600 employees work to provide innovations, research and data that can readily be applied by businesses and governments. The organisation also conducts contract research, offers specialist consulting services, and grants licences for patents and specialist software. TNO tests and certifies products and services, and issues an independent evaluation of quality. Moreover, TNO sets up new companies to market innovations.


TNO was established by law in 1932 to support companies and governments with innovative, practicable knowledge.[2] As a statutory organisation, TNO has an independent position that allows to give objective, scientifically founded judgments. It is similar to the German Fraunhofer Society and, to a lesser degree, CSIRO in Australia. Furthermore, TNO held also 10% of the Austrian research centre Joanneum Research from 2004 to 2014.[3]

TNO fulfils the role of innovator on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, and the Geological Survey of the Netherlands. In these cases, TNO is entrusted with knowledge-intensive government responsibilities related to defence and security, workforce participation and the Geological Survey.

Scope of work[edit]

TNO’s strategy is based on technological advances and trends in society. The work of TNO is focused on 9 domains which are in line with the challenges and goals of the national economic policy, based on so-called Top Sectors, and with social issues relevant to The Netherlands and Europe.

At the start of 2018 the work of TNO is focused on 9 domains, each covered by an oganisational unit.

  • Buildings, Infrastructure & Maritime
    The Building, Infrastructure & Maritime unit works towards the achievement of reliable, efficient and sustainable use in construction, civil infrastructure and the maritime and offshore sectors.
  • Circular Economy & Environment
    Circular Economy & Environment helps to bring about the transition to a sustainable society. The ultimate goal is the creation of a ‘circular economy’, in which the re-use of products and raw materials is maximised and the destruction of value is minimised.
  • Defense, Security & Safety
    Whether it’s for the army, the police, the fire service or the business community, Defence, Safety & Security creates innovations that can help those who are devoting themselves to our safety and security every day.
  • Energy
    The Energy unit has the ambition to accelerate the transition to a fully sustainable energy supply with both technical and non-technical innovations.
  • Healthy Living
    Healthy Living aims to deliver social and technological innovations that can help people make the kind of choices that lead to better health and social participation.
  • Industry
    The unit focusses on helping the industry to meet today's challenges with technical expertise in all areas, including sensors, optics, flexible electronics, 3D printing and chemistry.
  • Information & Communication Technology
    Information and Communication Technology presents new opportunities for innovation and economic growth, but the rapid digital transformation of society has issues of its own. TNO aims to assist its clients by leveraging its know-how in ICT, policy and business models.
  • Strategic Analysis & Policy
    Strategic Analysis & Policy advises governmental authorities and businesses alike on complex societal issues. They alert them early on to upcoming technologies, influence innovation policy, and orchestrate the introduction of relevant innovations.
  • Traffic & Transport
    Traffic & Transport focusses on creating liveable, sustainable cities through clean, safe, reliable and affordable mobility and logistics.

TNO has signed the SDG charter in order to help realize the Sustainable Development Goals.

TNO’s financial model[edit]

TNO is a not-for-profit knowledge organisation. In order to ensure continuity the organisation generates a modest profit in order to fund investments, ensure continuity in knowledge development and a sustainable and healthy financial position.

The Early Research Programmes and Shared Innovation Programmes are always funded in part with public funds. The knowledge created in this way is subsequently further developed as part of public-private research with partners; this process is also referred to as ‘shared-innovation’. In addition research results are further developed and applied in contract research, which is fully funded by TNO’s customers. Through this process, TNO claims, it brings research closer to the market and actively transfers it through spin-outs and licenses.

Typical projects[edit]

  • TROPOMI:[4] a satellite instrument that will carry out measurements on the troposphere, giving an accurate picture of the state of the changing climate. TNO designed the optomechanical heart of the instrument - the ultraviolet visible near-infrared optical bench module (UVN-OBM).
  • Personalized Digital Health:[5] If diagnosis, prognosis and treatment are geared towards the individual, this helps to prevent overtreatment or undertreatment, and thus reduces overall healthcare costs. TNO bases all efforts to improve the quality of digital healthcare focusing on Prediction, Prevention, Personalization, Participation and Privacy.
  • Hybridisation of Trucks and Buses:[6] This project, led by TNO, focuses on the Total Cost of Ownership reduction for trucks and buses offering significant zero emission capability, whilst still preserving longer driving range for regional operation.
  • Truck Platooning:[7] This project creates truck platooning technology that should make automated driving on public roads practically possible. Truck platooning has the potential to make road transport faster, cheaper, cleaner and safer while at the same time increasing road capacity.
  • The North Sea Energy project[8] is a consortium project to enable emission-free energy production in the North Sea.
  • Blockchain:[9] TNO provides a Blockchain Laboratory to projects researching the application of blockchain technology to various domains.
  • Real-Time Intelligence (RTI):[10] In the TNO RTI-Lab improvement of police effectiveness in e.g. finding missing persons is researched.
  • Lifestyle as a Medicine:[11] In cooperation with LUMC this project aims to replicate in people the completely curing of type 2 diabetes in mice with a change in lifestyle.
  • Shaded Dome:[12] In coopeation with the armed forces a dome structure was designed that protects against harmful weather conditions, provides ballistic protection, has a very low energy consumption and is easy to erect and dismantle.
  • Energy-saving asphalt:[13] New asphalt saves fuel and reduces CO2 emissions.
  • The GeoERA programme:[14] A first step towards making geological knowledge about our continent freely accessible and transnational. Within the programme, dozens of institutions from 31 countries are cooperating on geological research projects.
  • Innovation for Development:[15] A programme designed to disseminate research results to small and medium-sized enterprises and to use innovations across the developing world.
  • SolaRoad:[16][17] TNO was part of the consortium that has built the world's first bikepath made from solar panels, known as a "SolaRoad".


TNO is headquartered in The Hague. Other locations include: Delft, Rijswijk, Leiden, Groningen, Helmond, Soesterberg, Utrecht, Zeist and Eindhoven. TNO also has international branch offices in Tokyo (Japan), Toronto (Canada), Brussels (Belgium), Doha (Qatar), Singapore and Aruba. The locations Hoofddorp and Enschede were closed in 2014.[18]


In 2006 TNO-ITSEF, a subsidiary organisation of TNO, was criticized for resisting publication of its test reports regarding widely used voting computers in the Netherlands. In the same year a Swiss research group refuted a widely publicized TNO report claiming UMTS radiation is a health hazard.[19] The organisation also received criticism after the evacuation of 200 residents of an Amsterdam housing estate over fears of its structural integrity when the construction had been technically approved by TNO only five months earlier.[20]

Also in 2006 TNO was criticized for their handling of an investigation into the collapse of a balcony in Maastricht in 2003 that killed two people.[21]


  1. ^ "MISSION AND STRATEGY". Retrieved 15 Dec 2017. 
  2. ^ "ORGANISATION". Retrieved 15 Dec 2017. 
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  16. ^ Spakovskis, Robert (Nov 7, 2014). "SolaRoad: World's first solar cycle path to open in the Netherlands". 
  17. ^ Mlot, Stephanie (Nov 10, 2014). "The Netherlands Preps World's First Solar Road". PC Magazine. 
  18. ^ "LOCATIONS". Retrieved 15 Dec 2017. 
  19. ^ 6 June 2006 Straling UMTS-mast niet schadelijk NOS Link
  20. ^ 11 July 2006 Ontruiming Bos en Lommerplein A'dam NOS Link
  21. ^ November 6, 2006 Onacceptabele rol TNO in zaak balkondrama Link

External links[edit]