NWO Physics Valorisation Prize 2017 is for VU researchers Erwin Peterman and Gijs Wuite

18 December 2017

The NWO Physics Valorisation Prize 2017 goes to Prof. Erwin Peterman and Prof. Gijs Wuite, both of whom are top researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. They have been awarded the prize, both as individual scientists and as a duo, for their individual efforts and their successful collaboration to valorise the fundamental knowledge and expertise that stem from their research in the field of single-molecule biophysics. The award ceremony will take place on 23 January 2018 during the annual national physics conference Physics@Veldhoven.

Each of the researchers has been successful in setting up an excellent research group with its own expertise, according to the jury led by Prof. Henri Werij of the Delft University of Technology. By combining their expertise in optical tweezers and single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, they have taken an important step forward. Doing so has allowed them to create new instruments for ground-breaking research on biological systems and for applications in DNA research. And their collaboration continues to be innovative. More recently, they have managed to invent an entirely new technology in the field: acoustic force spectroscopy, which has excellent possibilities for applications in biomedical diagnostics.

To be able to put their findings to work effectively in other labs, they realised that commercial versions would need to become available. This led to a start-up, Lumicks, which has been expanding very successfully, employing already more than 20 people in high-tech positions. After just three years, the company has already managed to turn a profit.

The collaboration between Peterman and Wuite is a textbook example of how it can be done: two researchers who combine their own excellence as specialists to create not only successful science but also valorisation of their fundamental knowledge. They actively share their experience in this field with students and fellow scientists – even with their competitors. What is more, their efforts and experience have also influenced how their university's tech-transfer office, IXA, views valorisation.

left Erwin Peterman, right Gijs Wuite. Photograph by: Anne Reitsma Fotografie.Image: left Erwin Peterman, right Gijs Wuite. Photograph by: Anne Reitsma Fotografie.

The NWO Physics Valorisation Prize

The aim of the NWO Physics Valorisation Prize is to encourage the utilisation of knowledge from  research in physics. NWO awards the prize of EUR 250,000 to a researcher or research group working in the field of physics in the Netherlands who has managed to turn the results of their own research into something useful for society. Of the total amount of the prize, EUR 235,000 is earmarked for new research – to be determined by the winners – for a period of two to four years. The winners are free to use the remaining EUR 15,000 as they wish.

Contact information

Jeroen van Houwelingen
(NWO Physics Valorisation Prize)
tel: +31 (0)30 600 12 44

Source: NWO