Allocations from National Growth Fund are beneficial for TU/e

Almost 1.4 billion euros coming out of the budget of the National Growth Fund - from a total of 4 billion euros that were allocated this first round - will go to projects in which TU/e plays an important role: quantum technology, green hydrogen, artificial intelligence, an integrated healthcare data system and regenerative medicine. That was made public on Friday the 9th of April. Nearly 121 million euros will become available immediately; for the remainder of the funding, additional substantiation must be provided, or certain conditions must be met.

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Professor Servaas Kokkelmans, scientific director of the TU/e Center for Quantum Materials and Technology Eindhoven (QT/e), is very pleased with the decisions that were made public last Friday. The Quantum Delta NL Program will receive 615 million euros from the National Growth Fund (see the box at the end of this article), consisting of an unconditional award of 54 million euros, a conditional allocation of 228 million euros, and a reserve of 333 million euros. In the case of a conditional allocation, the money is not made available until specific conditions have been met. The reservation requires further substantiation or proven success in the first phase, after which a new review will follow.

Kokkelmans: “This investment by the Dutch government shows that the Netherlands wants to lead the way in the research and development of quantum technology. Our QT/e center is one of the founders of Quantum Delta NL and together we wrote the National Quantum Technology Agenda, which forms the basis of the Quantum Growth Fund program. This program gives a considerable boost to our Eindhoven quantum programs: the ultracold atomic quantum computer platform and our quantum network in the Eindhoven region."

The Growth Fund committee, which assessed the applications, ‘believes in the great strategic opportunities of quantum technology and is enthusiastic about the proposed approach. The Netherlands has a strong scientific position in the field of quantum technology. This proposal should boost this position and enable an early transition to economic value to be made.’ The allocated funding will be used to position the Netherlands as a leading international center and hub for quantum technology: the Quantum Delta NL. The ambition of this partnership that includes TU/e is to develop a leading European knowledge cluster in seven years' time, with a contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) of 5 to 7 billion euros and 30,000 high-grade Dutch jobs in the long term.

Green Hydrogen Ecosystem

The project 'Green Power of the Dutch Economy', co-authored by researchers at the TU/e institute EIRES, will receive 338 million euros for an ecosystem based on green hydrogen. The award consists of a conditional allocation of 73 million euros and a reserve of 265 million euros. This program aims to accelerate the use of green hydrogen - hydrogen produced using renewable solar and wind power - in the chemical, transport and heavy industry sectors through innovation and cost reduction.

The committee is ‘enthusiastic about the earning potential of green hydrogen and the proposed approach. The committee sees economic opportunities especially in the R&D program in combination with the small-scale demonstration projects. In addition, the investment in human capital can prepare the Dutch labor force for the hydrogen economy.’

Professor Richard van de Sanden, scientific director of EIRES: "This fund gives an enormous boost to the field and offers wonderful opportunities for TU/e in terms of electrolyzer development and making the chemical industry more sustainable. The envisaged collaboration between the chemical, energy and manufacturing industries will create thousands of new jobs and give the Netherlands a solid place among Europe’s leader in the field of hydrogen. This program is therefore a major boost to the greening of our economy.”

Artificial Intelligence

The AiNed investment program in Artificial Intelligence will receive 276 million euros, consisting of a 44 million euros allocation, a 44 million euros conditional allocation and a 188 million euros reserve. The committee believes that AI can make a valuable contribution to more efficient energy systems, smarter mobility and logistics, and more efficient care.

Carlo van de Weijer, director of EAISI and chairman of the Brainport AI Hub: "The allocation from the Growth Fund is excellent news for EAISI and certainly for our partners in the Brainport 'Artificial Intelligence Hub'. The funds that have now been granted will provide an impulse to further accelerate our cooperation. As a high-tech region, we have time and again proved capable of moving with new generations of technologies; from the glass-tube amplifiers and transistors to today's chip machines. We are leading the way in high-tech systems, medical technology and smart mobility. Artificial intelligence is the key for us to anchor that position for the future as well."

The multi-year AiNed program was set up by the Netherlands AI Coalition (NL AIC) to strengthen the Dutch position in the field of artificial intelligence. It is a public-private consortium with more than 400 participating organizations, including EAISI.

Healthcare Data System

The Health-RI proposal receives 69 million euros, consisting of a conditional award of 22 million euros and a reserve of 47 million euros. This project focuses on the Dutch care infrastructure, more specifically the sharing and use of research data in healthcare. The Eindhoven Medtech Innovations Center (e/MTIC) plays a role in the proposal. The goal of this center - which, in addition to the TU/e, consists of Philips, Máxima Medical Center, the Kempenhaeghe Expertise Center and the Catharina Hospital - is to get innovations to the patient faster. Data plays a crucial role in this. The committee sees great economic and social potential in a national integrated care data system, and they believe this proposal is a good step in that direction.

Carmen van Vilsteren, Chairman of the Board of e/MTIC: "We are very pleased with this allocation. As a core business, we try to facilitate the path of innovations to the patient. Our partners focus mainly on clinical innovation and this amount, specifically for data sharing, gives us an enormous boost. This will allow us to not only get innovation to the patient faster at the local level but also to collaborate on a national scale."

Regenerative medicine

The RegMed XB consortium, of which TU/e is a member, will receive 56 million euros from the Growth Fund to bring regenerative medicine to the market, consisting of an allocation of 23 million euros and a conditional allocation of 33 million euros.

This collaboration of research institutions, public authorities, provinces, health funds and industry in the Netherlands and Flanders develops therapies for chronic diseases, based on stem cells, mini-organs, tissues and smart (bio)materials. A new consortium in Brabant, set up in collaboration with TU/e and financed from the growth fund, will focus on the larger-scale production of smart biomaterials and the further development of new technologies.

"With this specialized infrastructure, we can accelerate the translation of our knowledge in the field of cardiovascular regeneration into products for the healing of heart patients," says professor Carlijn Bouten, who leads one of the four work packages. Keita Ito, who also leads a work package: "The allocation of the Growth Fund resources is an enormous stimulus to accelerate processes that pave the way for industrial parties to market."

National Growth Fund

The National Growth Fund is intended for one-off public investments that contribute to future economic growth. The projects must lead to higher productivity and new economic activity, according to the independent Growth Fund Committee, chaired by Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Robert-Jan Smits,the Executive Board President of TU/e, is also a member of the Growth Fund Committee, as is ASML chief executive Peter Wennink, who took up the post of President of TU/e's Supervisory Board in September 2020. In the coming five years, the cabinet will set aside a total of 20 billion euros for investments in knowledge development, infrastructure and research, development & innovation. In this first round, which was announced on 9April, the Cabinet is awarding money to ten proposals. The total is 4.1 billion euros, 646 million euros of which are available immediately. A second round of submissions will start at the beginning of May.

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