Five research ideas have been rewarded by NWO in the framework of the Open Mind grants with a contribution of 50,000 euros. With this funding, the researchers can carry out their plan for a year. One of the winners is Jurriaan Huskens, professor of Supramolecular Chemistry & Nanofabrication at the University of Twente. He received the award for his project 'The Emperor's New Clothes: Designing a straitjacket for influenza'.
The outside of an influenza virus contains proteins that bind to the host cell, creating an entry point. In this project, a "straitjacket" is designed that covers the surface of the virus particle, rendering it harmless. The casing, made of 2D nanomaterial, is equipped with natural cell receptors that interact with several proteins on the virus surface. According to the jury, the project has a broad application and the potential to become a platform technology.
Each year, NWO's domain of Applied and Technical Sciences awards five Open Mind grants of 50,000 euros for socially relevant research off the beaten track. The aim is to find unusual research ideas that contribute to creative and sustainable solutions for societal challenges.
This year, sixteen proposals were selected for the finals. In a short online pitch, the participants explained their out-of-the-box research idea. The five winners of the competition were chosen by a committee led by Professor Sander Leeuwenburgh.