Dutch put up £70m to seal a lucrative marriage

April 21, 2006

Dutch universities are drawing up applications for a €100 million (£70 million) research programme intended to support collaboration with industry.

The programme's emphasis on exploiting academic research is expected to be taken further in May, when the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research launches its strategic plan for 2007-10.

The Government has been considering the programme, Smart Mix, for some time. By supporting large collaborations between academia and the private sector, it hopes to address a fragmentation of the nation's research base and a failure to exploit knowledge.

A spokesperson for NOSR said: "The Netherlands has strong industry and very good science, but our scientific results don't get translated to industry. You need to have industry involved from the start."

Smart Mix will support projects that will contribute to the economy or to society. Otherwise there are few restrictions on what will be considered.

Funds of €3 million to €10 million a year are expected for projects, and about ten to twenty will be selected. NOSR expects Smart Mix to be oversubscribed.

Given that NOSR otherwise has only €400 million a year to spend, the €100 million programme, paid for by the ministries responsible for research and economic affairs, represents a significant injection of funds.

Research exploitation and collaboration with industry and social partners is expected to be a major feature of NOSR's four-year strategy, along with more emphasis on tightly focused research programmes and a push to create more space for researchers to work in.

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