Industrial Doctorates: sixteen PhD students start their research in industry

19 July 2018

NWO funds sixteen PhD students through the Industrial Doctorates programme. They will carry out their research at both a knowledge institution and a participating company. The chance that the knowledge actually finds its way into practice increases when both the company and knowledge institution work closely together. The Industrial Doctorates programme contributes to intensive collaboration and focuses strongly on talent development of the PhD student. Special attention was given to cooperation with SMEs. In seven proposals, the PhD student will execute part of the research at an SME.


As this programme is a pilot, NWO only grants this funding round for the time being. A lot of interest was shown to the Industrial Doctorates programme. A total of more than 145 preproposals were submitted, of which 44 were selected for the complete assessment procedure. After the assessment procedure, NWO awarded sixteen projects.


The budget of 3.4 million euros was allocated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science as a Start impulse for the Dutch National Research Agenda (NWA). As part of the funding conditions, participating knowledge institutes contribute to the research by making infrastructure and supervision of PhD students available, involved private parties do so by providing co-financing.


The sixteen projects are listed below in alphabetical order. The list is divided into two parts: Industrial Doctorates at SMEs and Industrial Doctorates at larger companies.

Grants Industrial Doctorates  (SMEs)

Advanced silicon nitride platform for integrated photonics (SiN-a-PIC)
Main applicant: dr. S.M. Garcia Blanco (University of Twente)
Partner: LioniX International

An integration procedure to add novel functionality to the silicon-nitride platform will be developed, reducing high precision assembly steps and therefore reducing cost and increasing the manufacturability of Photonic Integrated Circuits in this technology. Gain, on-chip lasers and non-linear optical properties in the visible and mid-IR will be demonstrated.

Advanced DOsimetry for Personalized radioembolization Treatment: The ADOPT project
Main applicant: dr. M.G.E.H. Lam (Utrecht University)
Partner: Quirem Medical BV

Radioembolization therapy is improved by personalized dosimetry, resulting in an optimized treatment dose for each individual patient. Using 166Ho microspheres scout dose in the work-up before therapy allows personalized dosimetry, by visualizing the distribution of spheres inside the liver. The aim is to introduce this concept into clinical practice.

Blocking complement with small antibodies
Main applicant: dr. S.H.M. Rooijakkers (Utrecht University)
Partner: QVQ

Many inflammatory diseases are caused by an overactive immune system. Using newly established methods, the researchers will develop smart and effective antibodies against critical enzymes of the immune system. The work may lead to new treatment strategies to control inflammatory diseases.

Deployment and Usability of Next-Generation Encryption for Network Security
Main applicant: dr. P. Schwabe (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Most systems that we use every day for secure communication over the Internet will become insecure once physicists build a so-called ‘‘quantum computer’’. This project upgrades two such systems, namely virtual private networks and secure e-mail, to solutions that remain secure even against attacks by a quantum computer.

Mitochondrial Medicines against Acute Kidney Injury
Main applicant: prof. R.H. Henning (University of Groningen)

Acute kidney illnesses wherein its energy-demand exceeds the production result in the loss of renal function. In this project, we aim to restore the renal energy production and preclude kidney failure by boosting the renal power plants, i.e. the mitochondria, with small molecule drugs.

Native Chemical Ligation as Drug Ligation Strategy in CriPec® Nanoparticles for Cancer Therapy
Main applicant: dr. ir. T. Vermonden (Utrecht University)
Partner: Cristal Therapeutics

This project develops novel production techniques for nanoparticles. These nanoparticles aim to deliver drugs with high accuracy to tumour tissue, enabling precision medicine. However, current production techniques are not suitable for all drugs, in particularly not for biologicals. Now, Cristal Therapeutics can greatly expand its nanomedicine pipeline.

PROCAP-Process-based assessment of characteristics of offshore tidal sand waves to determine burial depths of cables and pipelines
Main applicant: prof. dr. H.E. de Swart (Utrecht University)
Partner: WaterProof Marine Consultancy & Services BV

New process-based knowledge and methods will be provided that will strongly improve assessments of burial depths of cables and pipelines in the North Sea where active tidal sand waves occur. For this, an integrated modeling-data approach will be applied to study the decadal evolution of depths and locations of troughs.

Grants Industrial Doctorates (larger companies)

Behavioral biases and individual heterogeneity in pensions: Household Asset Liability Management
Main applicant: prof. dr. B.J.M. Werker (Tilburg University)
Partner: APG

There is a lively pension debate in the Netherlands. Like elsewhere, the shift to Defined Contribution products implies more freedom of choice for individuals. The project studies how individual can be guided in this choice process to ensure optimal outcomes for them personally but also for society at large.

Better and more efficient use of pesticides by spray adjuvants
Main applicant: prof. dr. D. Bonn (University of Amsterdam)
Partner: GreenA B.V.

Pesticides are sprayed on crops; how can we prevent them from polluting surrounding areas? A promising way is by adding an environmentally friendly adjuvant to the spray liquid, affecting the droplet size and efficiency in sticking to the crops. The PhD researcher will perform a systematic study to understand, optimize and exploit this approach.

Developing a novel ketogenic diet for patients with epilepsy to improve compliance
Main applicant: prof. dr. E.M.A. Aronica (AMC)

The ketogenic diet is a very effective yet underutilized therapy for drug-resistant epilepsy. However, its high fat content causes gastrointestinal side effects and poor palatability, severely limiting patient compliance. This study seeks to develop a new ketogenic diet with similar efficacy but lower fat content to increase its clinical utilisation.

Every ray counts:Enabling large-scale PV integration by smart-grid applications combining fine-resolution meteorology and grid management
Main applicant: dr. ir. C.C. van Heerwaarden (Wageningen University & Research)

More and more households choose to place solar panels, but these cannot always be accommodated on the electricity grid. This research connects the domains of meteorology and grid management. By providing accurate solar energy forecasts, smart-grid technologies can be applied which allow the largescale integration of household-installed solar systems.

Future proof financial risk management: volatility and collateral modelling for margin valuation adjustments
Main applicant: prof. dr. P.M.A. Sloot (University of Amsterdam)
Partner: ING Bank

Highly dynamic financial markets and regulatory reforms call for a continuous innovation in risk management, relying on advanced mathematical modelling and numerical methodologies. We aim to integrate scientific research with the complexity of realistic market practices, through a strong collaboration between UvA and ING, merging academic expertise with industrial experience.

Integral capacity management of the surgical care chain
Main applicant: prof. dr. ir. E.W. Hans (University of Twente)
Partner: Rhythm BV

This project aims to break through the silo-ed organization of hospital departments, by developing mathematical solutions for integral planning and control of care chains. Embedded in decision support software, validated and tested in a Dutch hospital, they allow hospitals to improve quality and timeliness of care while containing costs.

Personalized vocabulary education based on a deep learning model of the multilingual mental lexicon
Main applicant: dr. F.T.M. Leone (Radboud University Nijmegen)
Partner: Malmberg

The deepest way to understand student vocabulary learning is to model their mental lexicon. Hence, we integrate deep learning of real-world learning data and neuroscience insights to develop a lexicon model, tailor presentation and feedback, and verify model predictions in brain and behavior. All to better understand and personalize learning.

Selecting soybean-specific consortia of beneficial microbes for sustainable yield improvement
Main applicant: drs. R.L. Berendsen (Utrecht University)
Partner: Koppert Biological Systems

Recently we discovered that plants can attract consortia of beneficial microbes to help them defend against pathogenic attackers. Here, we will make use of this phenomenon in selecting new microbial consortia that can protect Soybean plants. We aim to improve yields of this major crop in a sustainable manner.

Self-compatibility in diploid potato (SCIP)
Main applicant: prof. dr. R.G.F. Visser (Wageningen University & Research)

For the transition of traditional tetraploid potato breeding towards diploid hybrid breeding more knowledge is required about self-compatibility regulating factors in diploid potato. This will allow a better control of F1 hybrid breeding and seed production.

Source: NWO