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NWO funding for lifestyle of the elderly and neurotechnology research

In order to make progress on major societal and economic challenges in different areas, science funder NWO is investing a total of €39 million from the Crossover programme in five large, interdisciplinary research consortia. The University of Twente plays a big role in two of these, namely 'MOCIA' (lifestyle of the elderly) and 'INTENSE' (neurotechnology).

Researchers from very diverse disciplines will join forces within these consortia with public and private partners. Besides research, they will strongly focus on facilitating the collaboration between various disciplines and making the connection with application-oriented research. The results will find their way, for example, into living labs, testing grounds, centres of expertise or smart data factories.

NWO received eighteen applications, and ten of these were elaborated into full proposals. The total size of the projects lies between 7.15 and 14.3 million euros. NWO will fund 70 percent of this amount, and the partners will contribute at least 30 percent of the project costs. The projects have a maximum duration of seven years.

Top sectors

The Crossover programme is new within NWO and is part of the NWO contribution to the Knowledge and Innovation Contract 2018-2019. With this contract, government, industry and knowledge institutions subscribe to the research ambitions for the top sectors with the aim of strengthening the Dutch knowledge and innovation system. Compared with “regular” public-private partnerships, the projects in the Crossover programme cover a broader range of top sectors and other research agendas.

Next steps

In the new Knowledge and Innovation Covenant 2020-2023 (KIC), which NWO signed at the beginning of November, there is room for a large-scale innovation programme, but in a different form from Crossover.

Executive board member Jaap Schouten, closely involved in the new KIC, explains: ‘NWO did not yet have a funding instrument of this size for consortia. The budget available per project is considerably higher in Crossover than for example Perspectief programme. . It was a challenge for the participants to form such consortia with a considerable contribution from private parties. Nevertheless, Crossover has shown that there is a demand for this and that it is possible to build such large consortia.’

About the funded projects:

MOCIA: Maintaining Optimal Cognitive function In Ageing – a personalised lifestyle prevention approach
Main applicant: Esther Aarts (Radboud University, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior).
Involved UT-researchers: dr. Femke Nijboer and prof. Geke Ludden.
Due to the ageing population, the number of elderly people with cognitive deterioration is increasing. The MOCIA programme focuses on being able to signal an increased risk of cognitive decline and improving prevention by developing a personalised lifestyle intervention.

INTENSE – Innovative NeuroTEchNology for SociEty
Main applicant: prof. dr. Pieter Roelfsema (The Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, KNAW).
Involved UT-researchers: prof. dr. Richard van Wezel en dr. Ir. Ciska Heida.
The project INTENSE will develop brain implants to improve the lives of people who are blind, deaf or paralysed or who suffer from epilepsy. The research will combine the strongly increased knowledge about our brain with new possibilities within neurotechnology with the aim of realising new solutions and commercial opportunities.

J.C. Vreeman (Jochem)
Press relations (available Mon-Fri)