In the third round of the Netherlands’ National Growth Fund, the University of Twente (UT) is well-represented, with a range of proposals in line for government funding.
The central government has pledged to invest €20 billion through the Growth Fund between 2021 and 2025. That money will go to public-private projects that have the potential to contribute to future economic prosperity. UT is a partner in the Growth Fund proposals submitted by Deltaplan Valorisatie, Holomicrobiome, DUTCH, 6G Future Network Services, POLARIS, Circular Solar Panels and Material Independence & Circular Batteries.
The Twente Centre for Advanced Battery Technology is a key partner in the Battery Competence Cluster NL (BCC-NL), which drew up the proposal with more than 60 companies and knowledge institutions. Its ambition is to reduce the Netherlands’ dependence on vital but scarce raw materials for batteries and to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the battery industry. The programme is committed to sustainable and fully recyclable batteries as an essential component in the mobility sector and in the storage of sustainably generated energy. Higher demands are continually being made of battery storage to ensure a stable power grid, as the energy transition results in ever-greater peaks and troughs in power generation. The eight-year programme has attracted a total of almost €800 million in private and public investment.
This major grant application was occasioned by the National Battery Systems Action Agenda, presented to parliament in September 2022 with the involvement of a host of Dutch players in the field of battery technology. Professor Mark Huijben, principal researcher at the Twente Centre for Advanced Battery Technology and former chair of the expert panel behind the National Battery Systems Action Agenda explains, “This seal of approval for our battery programme will create significant opportunities for the industrial sector in the Netherlands and for our position in terms of international expertise. It is also a major boost to see our initiative to set up an advanced centre for battery technology at UT resulting in such a great innovation programme, supported by a wide-ranging group of scientists within our university.”
The National Growth Fund plans to invest a total of €132 million in DUTCH, which stands for Digital United Training Concepts for Healthcare. No less than €48 million of this funding is unconditional. DUTCH is a consortium of hospitals, knowledge institutions and EdTech and MedTech companies whose shared goal is to bring about a disruptive transformation in the training, retraining and lifelong learning of healthcare professionals.
They aim to bring this about using digital learning tools and physical and virtual simulation (XR). This enhanced training capacity will make the education and development of healthcare professionals both more efficient and effective. DUTCH offers healthcare professionals the opportunity to improve their expertise and employability and broaden their career development opportunities. Through this process, DUTCH also contributes to the retention of healthcare employees.
The government is investing €312 million in a national programme for the large-scale production of solar cells and solar panels in the Netherlands. Of this total investment, €135 million is being granted directly and €177 million conditionally; a further €100 million in loans is also being made available. The SolarNL programme is an ambitious collaboration between the business community and research institutes to develop circular integrated solar cells and panels on Dutch soil and to produce them on a large scale. More specifically, the aim is to develop and industrialise three innovative solar technologies, each of which will be competitive in different markets: 1) high-efficiency silicon heterojunction solar cells, 2) flexible solar films using a new material called perovskite and 3) customised solar products for integration in buildings and automotive applications and tandem solar cells that provide even greater efficiency.
Chronic diseases, antibiotic resistance, declining soil and water quality and nitrogen emissions: microbiomes play important roles in all these problems. For the first time, the consortium will investigate how microbiomes in all parts of our food system together form one large network: a 'holomicrobiome'. The Holomicrobiome Institute will bring together innovation in agriculture and animal husbandry, food production and healthcare, and in soil and water management in the Netherlands.