With the Gravitation programme, the Dutch Government encourages consortia of top researchers in the Netherlands. The subsidies are intended to help ensure that first-rate proposals bear fruit as world-class research. Since the start of the programme in 2012, three of the twelve funded projects have been proposed by Radboud University. Read more about the gravitation programme on the NWO website.
2017: 'Anchoring Innovation',
research into innovation processes since antiquity
Successful innovation requires more than technological progress alone. Every new concept must first be firmly anchored into an existing context. At least this is the hypothesis of Dutch classicists, working together in the National Research School in Classical Studies OIKOS. They intend to test this by studying classical antiquity. The OIKOS researchers will be conducting their research programme 'Anchoring Innovation' thanks to a grant of 18,8 million euros from the Gravitation programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Radboud University is official secretary for this programme.
André Lardinois, Professor of Greek Language and Literature at Radboud University: “We want to know how innovation works and how it gets accepted. Not only in where technology is concerned, but also with regard to institutions, art and literature. In all these domains we observe combinations of what is new with what is familiar; sometimes things really are new or familiar, sometimes people just imagine they are. To be successful, an innovation must connect with something familiar, that is to say: it must be anchored.”
The project wants to focus expressly on demonstrating the societal importance of the humanities. Lardinois: “‘Anchoring Innovation’ is designed to show that if a society wants to innovate successfully, it must not only take the sciences seriously, but must use the talent available to it, including the humanities. We want to contribute to processes of innovation, including those of today.”
> Read more about this research in the press release on the Gravitation grant 2017
2013: Microbiology for health and the environment
Prof. Mike Jetten from Radboud University and fellow-scientists from TU Delft, Wageningen University and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) use the Gravitation funding to set up SIAM, an institute to identify new anaerobic-living micro-organisms with characteristics that will benefit the environment and health.
The ultimate goal of SIAM, the ‘Soehngen Institute for Anaerobic Microbiology’ is to help build a sustainable economy on new anaerobic micro-organisms. These microbes can, for example, play an important role in producing biogas, turning organic waste into degradable bioplastics or improving health by optimizing the microflora in the gut. Micro-organisms can also be used to trap or even neutralize greenhouse gases. Prof. Mike Jetten and his colleagues received a 22.9 million grant.
2012: Language and the brain
Peter Hagoort professor of Psycholinguistics at Radboud University, together with colleagues from the University of Amsterdam, proposed the ‘Language in interaction’ project that brings together brain researchers and social scientists.
Together they study the balance and relationship between universal linguistic characteristics and individual variations, and how cognitive systems such as memory, action and control relate to language. To answer these questions requires a broad approach that embraces the genes that encode our language-ready brains, social interactions between listeners and speakers, and the structure of language itself. The Language in interaction consortium received a 27.6 million grant.
2012: Functional molecular systems, inspired by life
Chemistry inspired by life itself, that is what the alliance between the three standard-bearers of Dutch organic chemistry aims for. Together with colleagues from Eindhoven and Groningen, Jan van Hest, professor of Organic chemistry at Radboud University, founded the Research Centre for Functional Molecular Systems, with the ambition to gain complete control of molecular self-assembly into new and bigger structures.
That control could be used, for example, to make nano-motors or dynamic biomaterials for tissue repairs in the body using the efficient multiple-catalysis processes that work within cells. ‘This is a major challenge in chemistry’, says Van Hest. ‘To make materials that continually adapt to their environment. That's what happens in the body when it repairs its cells and ensures that the right substances reach the right places at the right time. We want to gain fundamental understanding of the complexity of that dynamic. That will lead, in five to ten years, to significant advances that will benefit society.’
The Research Centre for Functional Molecular Systems received a 26.9 million grant.
> More information on the Gravitation programme (website NWO).