By providing these funds, NWO aims to promote cooperation between scientists with the aim of ensuring that the Netherlands’ scientific infrastructure remains up-to-date. NWO chair Marcel Levi emphasises that the seven projects receiving the grants will enable innovative research with significant added value for society as a whole.

In one such project, a consortium led by TU Delft is developing a new type of radar system that is able to forecast extreme weather with much greater accuracy. Other grants will fund the development of a database for cancer in children and a cutting-edge radio telescope that will enable scientists to produce the first colour films of black holes.

For this round of grants, a total of 35 applications were submitted. NWO’s contribution ranges from 2.3 to 4.7 million euros per project.

As recently as February, NWO and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science awarded a further 140 million euros in grants from the National Roadmap for exceptionally large-scale research equipment and databases.

Awarded projects:


Organ-on-Chip Development Center (hDMT INFRA OoCDev)

Main applicant: Dr Andries van der Meer, University of Twente

Organs-on-chips are cultured mini-organs that are used to study the safety and efficacy of food and medical drugs. The development of new organs-on-chips is complex, because it relies on expertise in microfabrication, microfluidics, cell culture, tissue engineering and microscopy. The new facility ‘hDMT INFRA OoCDev’ will enable the development of innovative organs-on-chips by bringing together groundbreaking infrastructure and technical expertise. The facility will be embedded in a national organization and will play an important role in boosting the development of even more realistic organs-on-chips.

Phased array radar for extreme weather analysis and prediction (PHARA)

Main applicant: Prof. Alexander Yarovoy, Delft University of Technology

How do we prepare for increasingly extreme weather conditions? The answer to this question is hidden in an essential part of our climate system: clouds. Researchers will develop a new type of radar that can observe the whole sky in a matter of seconds. It is designed to both reveal how particles grow inside clouds and precipitation and to track large-scale movements of weather systems. The transportable radar will contribute to breakthroughs in climate and atmospheric research, more precise weather forecasts (crucial for water management) and further (radar) innovations.

Shining light on atomic-scale processes (SHINE)

Main applicant: Dr Wiebke Albrecht, AMOLF

Modern transmission electron microscopes now can routinely visualize materials all the way down to the atomic level. At the same time, recent developments in nanophotonics and plasmonics make it possible to concentrate light nearly to the atomic scale within picoseconds, opening up unprecedented control over where, when and how energy is injected into a material. SHINE will bring light directly into the transmission electron microscope to enable researchers to watch solar harvesting materials transform at the atomic level under relevant operating conditions.

The Africa Millimetre Telescope: Making colour movies of black holes

Main applicant: Prof. Heino Falcke, Radboud University

The Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT) is a new 15-metre class robotic radio telescope on the Gamsberg mountain in Namibia. The AMT will extend the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), the global telescope network that took the first ever image of a black hole. With the AMT, the EHT will be able to record the world’s first colour movie of black holes, pushing the frontier of black hole research. On its own, the AMT allows for unprecedented multi-colour monitoring of black holes and the discovery of new transient radio sources from exploding stars or colliding black holes.

The Dutch Comprehensive Childhood Cancer Commons: A national resource for tackling pediatric cancer worldwide

Main applicant: Dr Patrick Kemmeren, Princess Máxima Center

Childhood cancer is one of the leading causes of death among children. To better understand why children get cancer and provide better treatment options, researchers will identify congenital and cancer-specific DNA characteristics in a comprehensive manner. With the data collection “NL-4C: the Dutch Comprehensive Childhood Cancer Commons” they will collect DNA and clinical data on 4,000 childhood cancers for research. This data collection is therefore an important resource to accelerate childhood cancer research and, in the future, provide individualized treatments for children with cancer that result in more cure and less side effects.

Expanding the new window upon our Universe: gravitational-wave discoveries with Advanced Virgo Plus

Main applicant: Prof. Andreas Freise, Nikhef

In 2015, scientists detected gravitational waves for the very first time. Since then, 90 detections have led to new insights into neutron stars, black holes and the structure of the Universe. But this is just the start! If scientists really want to understand what’s going on in the Universe, they must upgrade their technology. With this project, researchers will improve the Virgo observatory so that it can detect 10 times more gravitational waves per year. The technologies they will develop are also key technologies for an even more advanced observatory: the Einstein Telescope.

Pulsed Laser Deposition Lab for Energy Research: New materials for green chemistry and transport

Main applicant: Dr Anja Bieberle-Hütter, DIFFER

The energy transition requires new materials for greening chemistry and transportation. Electrolyzers and fuel cells need more efficient electrodes and more robust membranes. Scarce materials call for everyday alternatives. PLD4Energy is a Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) facility for producing such thin film (membrane) alternatives. It is tailored to research for energy applications. PLD4Energy has the right in-situ diagnostics to move from small to larger film areas in a controlled manner. The facility lends itself to fundamental research, as well as the next, essential step: actual implementation.


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