Academics at the world’s top

An unusual amount of money for two TU Delft research consortia

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) awarded the Summit Grants on Friday for the first time. These are large amounts of money for research groups that are at the world’s top. EUR 75.4 million went to two TU Delft projects.

Summit Grants are awarded to the world’s leading, or close to leading, academics. (Photo: Pxhere)

It was good news for five research groups on Friday when outgoing Minister Dijkgraaf (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) awarded them exceptionally high amounts of financing in the millions for a whole decade. The total amount invested was EUR 174 million which was divided among five projects from different universities in the Netherlands, reports NWO.

The Summit Grant was created to connect, or maintain the partnerships of, top scientists. The grants target academic consortia that are already world leaders or can become world leaders with the grant, states the NWO on its website. After the award ceremony on Friday, in a post on X Dijkgraaf (in Dutch) said that the grants give researchers the ‘peace and space to work on promising academic research programmes and solutions for societal challenges’. Of the five projects selected, two are connected to TU Delft.

Living synthetic cell

EVOLF (Evolving Life from Nonlife), research led by professors Cees Dekker and Gijsje Koenderink, received EUR 40 million in Government funding. On X, Dekker says that the project’s goal is to answer ‘some of the biggest questions’. In doing so, the team is planning to build a living synthetic cell that can replicate, communicate and evolve autonomously. Dekker and Koenderink are working on this with a group of 31 main researchers from various universities and more than 100 other scientists, says Dekker.

EUR 35.4 million is also going to QuTech, to a research consortium of TU Delft and the University of Leiden that is working on the fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. On the website of the quantum institute, Lieven Vandersypen, the main applicant and Scientific Director, says that there are still ‘major gaps in our understanding’ of quantum theory. These will be addressed in a carefully selected consortium of experts over the next 10 years.

Money is also going to research on making the feedback mechanism in climate change (Utrecht University) clearer; research into regenerative medicine (UMC Utrecht); and, research on social cohesion (University of Groningen). They will receive EUR 30.6 million, EUR 37.5 million, and EUR 30.6 million respectively. Just as in the TU Delft projects, academics from other universities are also involved in these.

Science editor Kim Bakker

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