On 14 April, the advisory committee of the National Growth Fund announced which Growth Fund applications would be granted in the second round, following which the government has decided to facilitate further development of the relevant projects. Many universities are involved in the various projects for which Growth Fund applications have been granted, confirming their essential contribution to knowledge development, creating impact and valorisation. Pieter Duisenberg, President of Universities of the Netherlands: ‘Through top-class education and research, universities are contributing to solutions to major social challenges facing the Netherlands, including digitalisation, lifelong learning and research into biotechnology. Thanks to the huge investments made through the National Growth Fund, we can now speed up our contribution and deploy our knowledge and expertise in projects that ensure that our social impact can grow.’ In addition to the participation in projects by individual universities, Universities of the Netherlands is itself a consortium partner in three projects for which Growth Fund applications have been granted: Biotech Booster, National Lifelong Learning Catalyst (Nationale LLO-Katalysator), and Education Digitalisation Drive (Digitaliseringsimpuls Onderwijs).
Investments in Growth Funds should not be scrapped
The Dutch government has earmarked €20 billion for investment through the National Growth Fund in the period from 2021 to 2025. In its coalition agreement, the newly formed government has even set aside further funding for knowledge development, research and innovation. This will enable the Netherlands to do more to develop solutions to social challenges and to improve its growth and earning capacity. Recent reports suggest that these investments might be scrapped. Pieter Duisenberg: ‘Scrapping the Growth Fund investment would absolutely be the wrong decision, as it will have a negative long-term impact on our prosperity and wellbeing.’
Looking ahead to the next round with even more synergy
The universities endorse the initial approaches outlined in the advisory report, which aim to give the next round a stronger mission-driven focus on themes such as the circular economy, food and healthcare. The openness of the application process has the advantage of lowering the threshold for unexpected ideas, but it also leads to fragmentation and reduced focus. The universities have stated that the themes and the Dutch funding instruments deployed to advance knowledge should be better integrated with each other. This would ensure that the National Growth Fund can provide an additional impetus, supplementing other initiatives.
Universities involved in 21 projects
In the second round, funding applications for 35 projects were submitted to the Growth Fund through various ministries. 28 of those applications have been granted, including 21 for projects involving universities (the projects are listed below in this news item). Pieter Duisenberg: ‘We are proud that our scientists are making a crucial contribution across the full breadth of Dutch society with the knowledge they develop.’ Universities of the Netherlands is a consortium partner in three of the projects for which funding applications have been granted: Biotech Booster, National Lifelong Learning Catalyst, and Education Digitalisation Drive.
€49.6 million unconditionally granted
€196.4 million conditionally granted
In the Biotech Booster project, companies and knowledge institutions join forces to better convert the Netherlands’ knowledge position into new business activities and products that will reach the general public. Biotech Booster will add business capabilities to excellent research to help researchers capitalise on promising ideas. Biotech Booster will achieve this by providing business support for promising innovations in biotechnology from an early stage. As soon as an idea is sufficiently robust, the leading entrepreneurs involved will support the team with finding investment and/or other partners to develop the idea as a start-up or as part of an existing company.
National Lifelong Learning Catalyst
€167 million unconditionally granted
€225 million conditionally granted
With this project, senior secondary vocational schools, universities of applied sciences and universities will provide a vital impetus to lifelong learning, both nationwide and regionally. The National Lifelong Learning Catalyst aims to ensure that the business community and professionals can keep up with a rapidly changing job market and society. To this end, The National Lifelong Learning Catalyst will give insight into the skills needed in the job market of the future by promoting lifelong learning courses for professionals and by improving the learning culture in organisations. The first set of challenges tackled by the project will relate to the energy transition.
Education Digitalisation Drive
€140 million unconditionally granted
€420 million conditionally granted
In the Education Digitalisation Drive, all 113 educational institutions (senior secondary vocational schools, universities of applied sciences and universities) join forces to create a standardised, secure and reliable sector-wide IT infrastructure and a sector-wide knowledge infrastructure. Through the proposed Centers for Teaching and Learning, we want to make better use of the opportunities created by digitalisation in each educational institution, to enable lecturers and teachers to provide better education to students. We want to achieve innovations in education by fostering collaboration between lecturers, teacher, scientists and employers.
Granted* Growth Fund applications in which universities are involved:
- Biotech Booster
- Future-proof Living Environment (Toekomstbestendige Leefomgeving)
- Cellular Agriculture (Cellulaire Agricultuur)
- Data-driven EcoSystem Mobility and Smart City (DEMS)
- National Lifelong Learning Catalyst (De Nationale LLO-katalysator)
- The revolution of self-thinking molecular systems (De revolutie van de zelfdenkende moleculaire systemen)
- Education Digitalisation Drive (Digitaliseringsimpuls Onderwijs)
- Sustainable Materials NL (Duurzame materialen NL)
- Einstein Telescope (Einstein Telescope)
- Water Technology Growth Plan (Groeiplan Watertechnologie)
- Groenvermogen II (Green Power II)
- Aviation in Transition (Luchtvaart in Transitie)
- New Heating Now! (Nieuwe Warmte Nu!)
- NL2120, the Green Earning Capacity (NL2120, het groene verdienvermogen)
- NXTGEN HIGHTECH
- Development Power (Ontwikkelkracht)
- Industrial Landscapes of the Future (Werklandschappen van de Toekomst)
*including some where part of the funding has been conditionally granted