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Kick-off joint research program UT and VU: Creating Responsible Societies

On Thursday, 3rd June, the University of Twente (UT) and Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam organized a congress which was attended by 27 UT and VU scientists as a kick-off for the joint research program Creating Responsible Societies.  The theme of the congress was on the net-zero challenge, which is increasingly an important societal problem. The congress was jointly opened by Bart Koopman (Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Technology [ET] at the UT). Oscar Widerberg (VU) gave insights on challenges achieving a carbon-neutral future, while Jos Keureuntjers (Energy Innovation Centre – UT) gave insightful perspectives on technological initiatives aiming at realising a carbon neutral future.

The Responsible Societies programme is one of four coalitions within the VU-UT collaboration (other coalitions are Creating Secure SocietiesCreating Responsible Societies and Creating Talent for Societies). The goal of Responsible Societies is to create an innovative research programme that is ground-breaking, towards solving current and future societal challenges focusing on a carbon-neutral future, resilient systems and embracing a circular economy. Responsible Societies will focus on building a multidisciplinary research eco-system linking scientists and companies in the Twente, and Amsterdam regions. Future research will focus on one of the programme’s three sub-themes: adaptability (resilience) and circularity.

Congress

The goal of the congress was to connect scientists from the UT and VU working on topics revolving climate change and net-zero initiatives and define joint research topics. During the congress, three breakout sessions were organised in which participants brainstormed on carbon-neutral relevant topics, focusing on ‘net zero technologies’, ‘policy and governance’, and ‘technology and user acceptance’.  These topics focused on addressing broad societal-relevant questions such as: how can clean technologies be made more acceptable to end-users? How are carbon-neutral technologies impacted by policy and governance perspectives? And how can technologies embed sustainability aspects.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SESSIONS

In the congress sessions, researchers discussed broadly how their research fit into the pillars of net-zero technologies, policy & governance, and user acceptance. Further discussions focused on: benefits researchers perceived from linking their research to the themes of Responsible Societies, connections they perceived with the research interests of their colleagues, and partners from the Twente and Amsterdam region who would enrich their research. Outcomes from the ‘net-zero technologies’ session moderated by Sebastian Thiede (UT, Faculty of Engineering Technology), included interesting discussions on carbon capture technologies, green infrastructure and quantifying the reduction impact of carbon-neutral technologies.

The session on ‘technology and user acceptance’ moderated by Ruben De Freitas Gouveia (UT, Faculty of Engineering Technology) highlighted the need to create a cooperation among universities, companies, and scientists to align carbon-neutral technologies to users. The ‘policy and governance’ session moderated by Oscar Widenberg (VU) highlighted important research topics, including the need to develop and integrate governance models with carbon-neutral technologies. At the conclusion of the congress, Sanne de Wit from the UT Grants Office presented European funding initiatives the coalition could explore to realise themes and ideas that came up during the congress.

FUTURE WORKSHOPS

As next steps, Responsible Societies will work on concept research proposals based on discussions from the congress and apply for funding. It is expected that the joint funding initiatives will enhance the collaboration between the UT and VU scientists starting with the carbon-neutral theme, further cascading in the future to topics on adaptability and circularity. Here too, the subsidy desk will be closely involved. Are you curious about the collaboration between VU and the UT and do you want to stay up to date with regards to upcoming activities? Send us an e-mail.

Point of contact UT: Peter Chemweno & Silu Bhochhibhoya: p.k.chemweno@utwente.nl s.bhochhibhoya@utwente.nl

Point of contact VU: Dan Petrovics: daniel.petrovics@vu.nl