Advanced scientific research and development have provided the technological impetus for the Netherlands' economic recovery since World War II. Dutch universities have traditionally carried out fundamental scientific research, and the government has promoted research activities through the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, established in 1988, and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, established in 1930. It also has supported scientific organizations such as the Energy Development Corp. and Energy Research Foundation, Aerospace Development Agency, National Aerospace Laboratory, and Netherlands Maritime Institute.
The highly developed electrotechnical industry produces computers, telecommunications systems, electronic measurement and control equipment, electric switching gear and transformers, and medical and scientific instruments. Dutch firms designed and constructed the Netherlands' astronomical satellites and play a major role in the European Space Agency. The important aerospace industry is led by the world-famous firm of Fokker, which produced Europe's bestselling passenger jet aircraft, the F-27 Friendship, and has been active in the consortium that developed the European Airbus. In 1998, high-tech exports were valued at $35.4 billion and accounted for 30% of manufactured exports.
Expenditures on scientific research and development in 1987– 97 totaled 2% of GNP; 2,219 scientists and engineers and 1,358 technicians per million people were engaged in research and development.
Among the Netherlands' 39 scientific and technical learned societies, the most prominent is the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, founded in 1808. The country also has 37 scientific and technical research institutes. In Leiden are located the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of History of Science and Medicine. The Netherlands has 16 universities offering courses in basic and applied sciences. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 39% of university enrollment.