THE HAGUE, 16-Apr-2018 — /EuropaWire/ — The NWO executive board has awarded funding to ten proposals in the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure. The total amount granted is 138 million euros. Today the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, presented the ten roadmap certificates at Utrecht Science Park. Funds for the National Roadmap Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure make it possible to build or modernise top research facilities with an international allure.
These facilities have the highest priority for science and offer Dutch researchers access to first-class national and sometimes international scientific infrastructure.
The scientific infrastructure awarded funding is vitally important for the carrying out of innovative scientific research and is a driver for societal and economic innovation in all scientific disciplines. The awards make infrastructure possible in the life sciences, natural and technical sciences, and the social sciences and humanities.
Examples of proposals awarded funding are: a new facility to accurately measure the emission of greenhouse gases, air pollution and particulate matter, the construction of special facilities that satisfy the highest international requirements for biosafety so that top research can be done into infectious diseases, and the development of advanced ICT resources for the analysis of enormous quantities of digital data in the humanities.
Efficient use of available funds
In this round, a total of 108 million euros was awarded via the budget of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. It was decided in the Coalition Agreement to further increase the efforts made in the area of scientific facilities. As a result of this the budget was increased by 30 million euros to 138 million euros. This additional funding will mainly benefit facilities in which TO2 institutes (such as TNO) and national knowledge institutions (such as KNMI and RIVM) are involved.
NWO president Stan Gielen: ‘The National Roadmap occupies an important place in the new NWO strategy announced this morning, because the innovative infrastructure encourages collaboration between researchers in research fields in which the Netherlands is a world leader. This collaboration is vital to ensure that the limited funds available can be used as efficiently as possible.’
Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven: ‘Good research facilities are vital for research and work like a magnet in attracting top talent. With this financial injection of 138 million euros, we are consolidating our international scientific position. The facilities in which we are now investing will strengthen the capacity to carry out innovative and ground-breaking research and will provide a valuable contribution to tackling societal issues.’
A Permanent Committee for strategic advice
In 2015, NWO appointed The Permanent Committee for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The Permanent Committee’s task is to establish the strategic frameworks for investment in large-scale scientific infrastructure for the longer term. In 2016, under the chairmanship of Prof. Hans van Duijn, the Permanent Committee started by producing a landscape analysis of the large research facilities in the Netherlands. The outcome of this is presented on an interactive website: www.onderzoeksfaciliteiten.nl.
After this analysis, the Permanent Committee selected 32 search facilities that have the highest priority for the next four years. These facilities form the National Roadmap. In mid-2017, 21 of the 33 selected research facilities submitted a funding proposal. NWO appointed an independent international selection committee to assess the proposals. This committee consisted of 8 men and 5 women with a broad knowledge of scientific developments and experience with large-scale scientific structure. In the autumn of 2017, the proposals were assessed via peer review. The selection committee selected 14 proposals for interviews, which were held at the start of 2018. Based on the interviews, the selection committee produced a ranking that was submitted for the final granting decision to the NWO executive board.
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