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Faculty of Impact: the world's first faculty devoted to boosting the impact of scientific research

The mission of the Faculty of Impact is to give young talented researchers greater opportunities to combine entrepreneurship and science. At Impact 2021, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) will present the Faculty of Impact, which offers the first ever post-doc programme focusing on entrepreneurship and valorisation. For two years, this programme will give talented young scientists the freedom and opportunity to further develop their creative and groundbreaking ideas. 'Science can potentially add so much more value to society and this first ever post-doc programme for entrepreneurship and valorisation is an excellent and vital step towards amplifying its impact', explained Mirjam van Praag, responsible for Impact and Valorisation at VSNU and chair of the Executive Board at VU Amsterdam. 'All 14 research universities are taking this step together with the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This initiative also perfectly demonstrates the work we are doing to develop new and alternative career paths at our research universities.'

For the past year, the universities have been working on a new valorisation concept together with the NWO and Techleap, with support from both the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. They now intend to flesh out the final details of the programme together with the NWO and to launch it in the autumn of 2021. Via the Faculty of Impact, which will run until 2025, three groups of scientists fresh from obtaining their doctorates will be given two years to focus on the entrepreneurial development of their own innovative ideas. Among other support, they will receive training, intensive coaching and personal guidance from experts in the fields of entrepreneurship, intellectual property and investment. These post-docs will be exempted from standard university duties such as teaching and publishing articles. As Valorisation post-docs, they will be given an employment contract and salary by a research university, as well as access to research groups, laboratories and office space.

'I am immensely proud that we have developed this wonderful programme for all of our smartest scientists who want to take their ideas into business', says VSNU chairman Pieter Duisenberg. 'This will help ensure scientific research adds value to society and further cements the close relationship between the business sector and academia. By setting up initiatives like these, we want to help the Netherlands become a leading delta of knowledge and innovation both within Europe and on the global stage.'

The Valorisation post-docs all have a creative and potentially groundbreaking idea, but do not yet have a concrete product, an existing start-up or business, or capital. Because of their connection with one of the universities, these young scientists will have a flying start. They will not have to pay for a whole range of things, such as laboratory use. After one year, the participants will meet with their supervisor to give their thoughts about the programme and indicate whether they want to continue developing their idea into a business. If so, then by the end of the second year, the business must be developed to such an extent that it will be capable of continued development for at least two years. This means that the innovative idea must have been converted into a concrete product and sufficient capital must have been raised. Once the programme is complete, it will also be possible to obtain grants from scale-up funds such as the Dutch Academic Impact Fund and Invest.NL.

The NWO and the research universities will publish more information about applying for the programme and a further explanation of the participation criteria and selection process at a later date. 


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Ruben Puylaert


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Gijs Kooistra

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