Spinoza laureates' research gains iconic status

7 November 2014

The Dutch government has given the research into quantum technology of FOM board member Leo Kouwenhoven (Delft University of Technology/TNO) and that into cultured stem cells of KNAW president Hans Clevers (Hubrecht Institute) the status of National Icon. Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp announced this yesterday during the Innovation Conference in the Ridderzaal, in the presence of King Willem-Alexander.

Spinoza laureates' research gains iconic statusQuantumcomputer

The research projects of Kouwenhoven and Clevers, both NWO Spinoza laureates, are two of the four innovations for which the government expects a large societal and economic impact. It therefore wants to provide extra support for these. The other two innovations that were declared icons are the hybrid potato and the 'Bioneedle'.

Quantum technology (QuTech)

Leo Kouwenhoven's quantum computers would become  the next-generation computers. They would have exponentially more calculating power than existing computers. Making use of so-called quantum particles, information could be transferred from one point to another without having to travel through a cable or the ether. That would make eavesdropping impossible and would make delays in data transfer a thing of the past. The technology could be used in security, ICT and pharmaceutical research.

In 2007, professor Kouwenhoven received the NWO Spinoza Prize for his work in the area of quantum transport in semiconductor materials.

Cultured stem cells

With the cultured stem cells of Hans Clevers (Hubrecht Institute) mini organs can be ‘cultured’ outside of the body, the efficacy of medicines can be tested and new organ tissue could be grown inside the body. This technique means a breakthrough in the treatment of cancer, for example, and it could eventually render organ transplants obsolete. Professor Hans Clevers received the NWO Spinoza Prize in 2001, amongst other things for his research into the development of intestinal cancer.


The National Icons will receive a tailored support programme. In addition, a minister or state secretary will act as the ambassador. This will offer, for example, access to a large network for the establishment of new possibilities in the Netherlands and abroad. The Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, Edith Schippers, will support the further development of cultured stem cells. The Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp, will do this for quantum technology.

Source: NWO


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