12 April 2018

Utrecht University secures tens of millions for further development of research facilities

HPT-lab
Studying rocks in the High Pressure and Temperature Lab, part of the EPOS infrastructure.

Thursday April 13th  at Utrecht University in the presence of Minister Van Engelshoven of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) announced how it will distribute €138 million to top research facilities in the Netherlands whose work transcends national boundaries. Utrecht University is extensively involved in six major projects on this National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities.

Anton Pijpers, President of the Executive Board of Utrecht University, is extremely proud of UU’s strong participation in the selected projects: ‘We have been investing in people and talent as well as in research facilities for years. This investment in building and further developing our research facilities once again shows that Utrecht University occupies a leading position in the development of innovative research facilities with international allure!’

Researching the earth's crust
With a contribution of €12 million, the NWO is financing the expansion of EPOS-NL. This is a cluster of large observatories, experimental labs and a digital infrastructure for research on the earth’s crust in Europe, from kilometre scale down to micro level. Utrecht University is the coordinating centre of this infrastructure.

Together with its partners the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and TU Delft, the University contributes to the broader European Plate Observing System (EPOS), a project set up to make multidisciplinary research data on the earth’s crust in Europe available quickly, reliably and in open access.

Albert Heck
Prof. Albert Heck, research leader for proteomics research.

Science and Life Science projects
Funds have also been earmarked for a number of Science and Life Sciences projects. Among other things, this funding will give Utrecht University the best electron microscope for materials research in Europe (Netherlands Electron Microscopy Infrastructure, €4.1 million for UU, coordinated by UMC Utrecht). Spinoza Award winner Prof. Albert Heck will lead the further development of pioneering technologies for proteomics research (Netherlands X-omics Initiative, €3.2 million for UU, coordinated by Radboud University).

Utrecht University will also establish a unique facility for research on the connection between genes and desired traits in plants (The Netherlands Plant Eco-phenotyping Centre, €5.6 million for UU, coordinated by WUR). UU researchers are additionally involved in the project that will provide precise data on the weather, greenhouse gases and air quality in the Netherlands (The Ruisdael Observatory for atmospheric science, €1.9 million for UU, coordinated by TU Delft).

Humanities and Social Sciences
The NWO has also selected the CLARIAH PLUS project, the Common Lab Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (over €1 million for UU). This is a national digital infrastructure for humanities and social sciences. CLARIAH CORE, a predecessor of CLARIAH PLUS, focused specifically on linguistics, socio-economic history and media studies.

An infrastructure will be added in CLARIAH PLUS for disciplines that study texts based on content, such as literature, history, philosophy and theology, rather than based on the language used. The Huygens Institute is coordinating this project.

National roadmap
Minister Van Engelshoven of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science presented the certificates for the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities on Thursday 12 April in the Koningsberger building at the Utrecht Science Park. The NWO'’s National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities programme is intended for the construction or renovation of research facilities whose work transcends national boundaries.