Over 24 million NWA-funding for five projects from Utrecht

Money for collaborations between universities and social partners

Five projects from Utrecht University have received funding from the so-called National Science Agenda: Research on Routes by Consortia (Nationale Wetenschapsagenda: Onderzoek op Routes door Consortia, NWA-ORC). The projects involve a total of 24,8 million euro. Utrecht University is also involved in five other projects as an academic partner.

The NWA-ORC scheme is awarding a total of 21 research consortia with €93 million. Part of this amount has been co-financed by the (international) consortium partners. A special feature of this funding is that it is used for collaborations between knowledge institutes and social partners - to investigate urgent issues together. The awarded amounts shown below do not include the amount contributed by the consortium partners. The actual amount awarded may therefore be higher.

By looking beyond university walls, we can tackle major social issues.

Henk Kummeling, Rector Magnificus at Utrecht University, is proud of all the consortia in which Utrecht is either projectleider, or academic partner.  “We believe that research becomes more powerful when you do it together. After all, it is only by looking beyond university walls that we can tackle major social issues. We at Utrecht University have been working on this for some time now, for example with our hubs in which scientists work together with social partners.We are very pleased that NWO is also moving emphatically in that direction. With these scholarships we can further stimulate cooperation, both within and outside the university.”

The consortia

Multilingual voices in STEM education

We need to cooperate in the broadest sense: we need the whole knowledge chain. So within our consortium, in addition to universities and colleges of higher education, there are also school boards, various museums and parents' organisations.

The Netherlands is a diverse and multilingual country, but not much is being done with the multilingualism of children with a migration background. In this consortium, the researchers will look at the different contexts in which children learn: at school, at home, but also in museums. Language can stand in the way of knowledge transfer in a museum, especially if a child is not yet fully proficient in the Dutch language. The researchers want to develop multilingual strategies for learning arithmetic as well as science and technology. These strategies help parents, teachers and science museums to promote the participation of multilingual children. As a result, children perform better and experience greater inclusion. NWO grant: 1.6 million euro.

Save the tiger! Save the grasslands! Save the water!

It is an honour to have a project like this funded in the NWA-programme. The NWA came about bottom-up from the Dutch society and I have no doubt that people think this is a very beautiful, fascinating and useful project.

Less than 4000 wild tigers are alive. At the foot of the Himalayas, grasslands where the tigers hunt for deer are disappearing. The ecohydrological dynamics of these grasslands becomes characterised. From this, the consortium will establish guidelines for sustainable management of the landscape and the water systems using co-creation.NWO grant: 2.7 million euro.

Virtual Human Platform for Safety Assessment

The driving force behind this project is the large number of stakeholders from different disciplines working together on an animal-free safety assessment. I am very proud of that

Think of a world where we can accurately test the safety of chemicals for our health without the use of laboratory animals. A world in which we could test the safety of these products solely on the basis of human physiology and biology, including for vulnerable groups such as babies, the elderly or the sick. The researchers in this consortium will develop a Virtual Human Platform to assess the safety of chemical products and medicines without the use of laboratory animals. By integrating innovations in data sciences, human tissue culture models and transition management, the researchers will accelerate the transition to non-animal safety assessment. NWO grant: 9.9 million euro.

Looking for the limes: the Romans in the Netherlands

We are going to do research on a future World Heritage site: how cool is that! Moreover, we will be at the cradle of the development of new techniques that will eventually give us an insight into migration and diseases in antiquity. And that's the core of the NWA: different disciplines and the public working together.

How do borders work? And how do borders determine the lives of people living in a border zone? This consortium led by Saskia Stevens will investigate this. The researchers will look at the best-known and perhaps oldest border in history: the limes, the border of the Roman Empire that ran straight through the Netherlands. Thanks to this large grant, the team of ancient historian and archaeologist Saskia Stevens will be able to place the Roman border in a new perspective. Unique in this project is the integration of insights from the humanities, exact sciences and archaeology. In this way, scientists can use techniques from the exact sciences to investigate how this border worked in antiquity. The public will also play an important role, both in the search for finds and in the outreach:  there are plans for a documentary television series and there will be a national exhibition. Besides Stevens, other involved Utrecht researchers in this project are Jaap Verheul, Gertjan Plets and Koen Ottenheym. NWO grant: 1.6 million euro.

The Dutch Black Hole Consortium

For Utrecht University, this is a very nice project in which we combine research, technology and social interest. I am really looking forward to leading this project.

With this proposal, we will create a new interdisciplinary consortium that will further unravel the mysteries of black holes and the universe. Astronomers and physicists are going to join forces to make new discoveries, geologists are going to do groundwork for the upcoming construction of the Einstein Telescope, and together with the applied universities we will develop new teaching material to interest young people in science. All our knowledge will later be exhibited in two museums.NWO grant: 4.9 million euro.

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