New national strategy for a large-scale research infrastructure

Uitreiking Nationale Roadmap 2021

Minister van Engelshoven has received the new National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Infrastructure 2021. This Roadmap is intended as a guide for making strategic choices for investments in an innovative research infrastructure. In the new Roadmap, nine Groups (with substantive, thematic or technical overlap) present, on behalf of the Dutch research field, their proposals for investments in a large-scale research infrastructure for the coming ten years. This research infrastructure has the highest priority for science in the Netherlands and can qualify for NWO funding. In the coming five years, a total of 200 million euros will be distributed over two funding rounds.

A large-scale research infrastructure is essential to the position of Dutch science: it makes a significant contribution to innovation and helps solve major social issues related to the environment, the climate, health and civilisation. This may involve highly specialised equipment, such as large telescopes, high field magnets or advanced sensors and measurement networks necessary for biological and earth science research. It may also involve ‘virtual’ facilities, such as extensive databases, scientific computer networks, or data and sample collections.

Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, has the following to say about the National Roadmap for Large-scale Research Infrastructure: ‘Investing in an innovative research infrastructure contributes to the international position of the Netherlands as a knowledge country. Science and research cannot manage without appropriate research facilities. In addition, the presence of a unique research infrastructure is a major factor in attracting talent. It brings together young academics, engineers, data scientists and project managers who work at the cutting edge of what is technologically possible, thus contributing to knowledge development and innovation. The Roadmap serves as a foundation for scientific progress.’

More effective and efficient

The Roadmap 2021 is the next step in a future long-term strategy for a large-scale research infrastructure, in which the research field is being asked to step up coordination and cooperation. This will allow investments to be used more effectively and efficiently, and enable people working in the field to set priorities for the use of the limited resources. Nine Groups with substantive, thematic or technical overlap were created for this purpose, and they explain their priorities in the Roadmap 2021 in terms of a research infrastructure that will be needed in the coming years.

Hans van Duijn, chair of the Permanent Committee for Large-Scale Research Infrastructure: ‘A large-scale research infrastructure is a driver for innovation in research and for achieving breakthroughs in all scientific domains. The Committee therefore calls on the new Cabinet to set aside additional funding to achieve the Roadmap 2021, as the current budget is insufficient. In the long run, a research infrastructure is the engine for economic and social development and ultimately for prosperity in the Netherlands.’

Permanent Committee

The Vision for Science 2025 stipulates that strategic choices in the area of large-scale research infrastructure would no longer be left in the hands of ad hoc committees. That is why the Cabinet asked NWO in 2015 to establish a Permanent Committee for Large-Scale Research Infrastructure. NWO notes that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science shares our view that a Large-scale Research Infrastructure is essential to securing the Netherlands’ aim to be a leading country in innovation in the future. NWO is pleased to help the Ministry implement this programme in this way. In 2016, this Committee, led by Van Duijn, presented the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Infrastructure 2016. Meanwhile, 17 Roadmap projects have received funding in recent years and are now being implemented.

More information

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