Queen Maxima ‘opens’ supercomputer (credits: Vera Duivenvoorden)

September 14, 2021

Fourteen quadrillion. That is the number of calculations the new national supercomputer Snellius can make per second. This powerful machine will greatly enhance the capacity of Dutch researchers to address scientific challenges such as climate change or analysis of the coronavirus. Queen Máxima performed the official inauguration of the supercomputer at the Amsterdam Science Park. Snellius was financed with a grant of 18 million euros from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (via NWO) and 2 million euros from SURF, the collaborative organisation for ICT in Dutch education and research.

New opportunities for researchers

One of the speakers at the opening ceremony was climate scientist Henk Dijkstra, who described the new possibilities that Snellius will create for his research:

‘It can help us to answer new questions about the impact that the increasing greenhouse gas emissions are currently having on the climate. We will also be able to make more detailed projections for the climate in the future, particularly in relation to the occurrence of extreme weather events such as heatwaves and excessive rainfall. You need a supercomputer because of the enormous number of calculations and the volume of data required to make those forecasts. Performing these types of calculations on a laptop is virtually impossible.’

NWO president Marcel Levi endorses that view:

‘The process of digitisation taking place in every domain of science means that every scientist needs computing capacity. Easy access to computing power is essential if researchers in the Netherlands are to continue conducting cutting-edge research in the future.’

A powerful computer

Every scientist in the Netherlands will have access to Snellius. The supercomputer, which is located in the Amsterdam Science Park, will be managed by SURF. An important criterion was that the new computer should be as energy-efficient as possible. The computer was built by Lenovo, which used water-cooling technology that cools the system more efficiently and greatly reduces the need for air cooling with fans. The system will be expanded in stages over the coming years and will ultimately have a peak performance of 14 petaflop/s, making it the most powerful high-performance computing system in the Netherlands. Through the use of the latest generation of graphics processing units (GPUs), the computer is also well suited for machine learning.

Investment in digitisation

The methods of processing research data and sources are changing rapidly. Datasets are not only much larger, but also more complex. In its coalition agreement, the present government earmarked funds to strengthen the country’s IT infrastructure with a view to ensuring the country remains competitive in the changing digital landscape. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science then asked NWO to draw up a detailed plan for the disbursement of the planned investments, for which NWO was allocated incentive funding of 40 million euros. In addition to making the Snellius supercomputer possible, the funds are intended for projects to make data more accessible, to improve the digital infrastructure, and to create more powerful computing capacity and more storage capacity.

Also read

Longread CWI – about how CWI researchers have relied on this powerful machine since the purchase of the first national supercomputer in 1984: from testing security keys to simulating gas and liquid flows and electrical discharges. 

The 4 technical universities (4TU), including the University of Twente and WUR, are joining forces with three medical academic centers and venture investor Innovation Industries to bring medical technical (medtech) solutions to the market faster. This week, the Ministries of EZK and OCW awarded 8 million euros to the medtech consortium from the Thematic Technology Transfer (TTT) scheme. This TTT scheme is best practice in Europe in the field of support for spin-offs, incubators and universities. The consortium aims to further expand the good international position of the Dutch medtech sector.

This TTT scheme is best practice in Europe in the field of support for spin-offs, incubators and universities. The consortium aims to further expand the good international position of the Dutch medtech sector.

Technological innovations are desperately needed to keep healthcare affordable, qualitative and manageable in the long term. However, the route to the market is very complex and difficult for medtech spin-offs. The Knowledge Transfer Offices (KTO) of TU Delft, TU Eindhoven, University of Twente and Wageningen University & Research, together with the KTOs of Erasmus MC, RadboudUMC and Maastricht UMC, and VC fund Innovation Industries, are building a national and open program.

Less downtime and faster to the market

“The initiative for this application comes from 4TU, with the University of Twente as lead party,” says Roy Kolkman, Manager of the KTO of the University of Twente. “With this investment we lay an excellent foundation for the medtech spin-offs in the Netherlands. By enriching the breeding ground with the right knowledge and expertise, the chance of failure is smaller and the time-to-market is shortened. ”

Better propositions

“By joining forces between UMCs and TUs, we arrive at strong propositions,” says Thijs Spigt, KTO director of Erasmus MC. “The knowledge and experience within the consortium ensures faster validation and a better business proposition. Extensive attention is paid to clinical demand, technical feasibility and business development. ”

Expansion of leading position

“The Netherlands is a frontrunner in the development of new technologies. However, bringing it to market is a major challenge. We invest in this consortium and do everything we can to make it a success. In addition to capital, we make an important contribution with our knowledge, experience and network, “says Pleuni Hooijman, fund manager at Innovation Industries.”

Source: Health Valley news

In the run-up to a new cabinet, the Dutch Top Sectors are calling for continued investment in people, especially now. They advocate an investment of 50 million euros per year over the next four years for, among other things, the upscaling of Learning Communities in which working, learning and innovation reinforce each other. That investment is desperately needed to continue to make good use of new technology and innovation.

A lot of technology and innovation in our country is at risk of not being exploited due to a growing shortage of people with the right knowledge and skills. To turn this tide, a transformation of the labor market is needed. The targeted increase of the skills of the working population yields a 2% growth in productivity, according to research by the OECD, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Sufficient employees with the right knowledge and skills also ensure that the Netherlands can continue to work on major social challenges in the field of Energy & Sustainability, Health & Care, Agriculture, Water & Food and Safety.

Learning Communities strengthen working, learning and innovation

The Top Sectors advocate an investment in the development and upscaling of Learning Communities as sustainable partnerships in which working, learning and innovation are closely organized. In this way, knowledge can circulate faster, training is more effective, more attractive and more accessible for a large group of pupils, students and employees.

Position Paper (pdf)

Press release April 9, 2021

1.35 Billion euros will be made available from the National Growth Fund (Groeifonds) for artificial intelligence, regenerative medicine, infrastructure for health data, quantum technology and hydrogen / green chemistry. This concerns the funding of 5 proposals (awards and reservations) for research and innovation submitted by State Secretary Mona Keijzer (Economic Affairs and Climate) on behalf of cooperating companies, knowledge institutions and governments.

According to the independent advisory committee, they contribute to economic growth, the strengthening of research and innovation ecosystems and the international knowledge and competitive position of the Netherlands. The decision of the advisory committee on the first round of the National Growth Fund was adopted by the Council of Ministers today. In addition to supporting innovative strength, proposals for strengthening infrastructure (IenW) and knowledge development (OCW) were also assessed. It concerned a total of 15 applications.

State Secretary Mona Keijzer (EZK): “Innovation aimed at digitization, sustainability and health immediately acquired a prominent place at the start of the National Growth Fund. That is good for all Dutch people. After all: research and development is the key to sustainable growth and thus our jobs and income for the future. ”

The State Secretary continues: “The large-scale public funding for these five innovative applications will make an important contribution to keep our country prosperous. It is necessary for the government to take on a more active role to further develop research, innovation and technology, to allow start-ups to continue to grow, to attract talent, to maintain innovation in the Netherlands and thus to strengthen our international position. I see great opportunities for the cooperating companies, knowledge institutions and governments involved in this to capitalize on these challenges. ”

The five funded proposals from research and development (R&D) and innovation are:

Quantum Delta Nederland – 615 Million Euro

The Dutch knowledge position in the field of quantum technology is among the best in the world. The proposal to further expand the ecosystem and convert it into business is fully funded (615 million euros). Quantum Delta Netherlands works in Amsterdam, Delft, Eindhoven, Leiden and Twente with a large coalition of companies, universities and other knowledge institutions on setting up the necessary infrastructure, developing the technology and its applicability. Part of the plan is also investing in employees for the future, so that this new sector will soon have enough trained personnel.

Quantum technology uses two principles: entanglement and superposition. Entanglement means that two particles are non-physically connected. If one changes, the other changes immediately: faster than light. This makes new, extremely safe and fast (communication) networks possible. Superposition ensures that, instead of regular bits that can be either 0 or 1 alone, qubits are 0 and 1 at the same time. That releases a lot of computing power. A quantum computer can do calculations that modern computers would take centuries to do.

Quantum Delta Netherlands is developing the first quantum computer that is of great importance for more efficient production or transport due to the calculation speed. But is also working on the first larger quantum network and on quantum sensors that are able to measure changes in very small particles, such as in DNA. Another future contribution is the contribution to cybersecurity via a secure (quantum) internet.

Regenerative medicine: RegMed XB 56 million euro

The amount requested for two biomedical innovation proposals is fully funded. The first is RegMed XB (56 million euros), which will build four Dutch pilot factories (Eindhoven, Leiden, Maastricht, Utrecht) for the development of regenerative medicine. This focuses on the repair of damage to cells, tissues and organs, so that chronic diseases can be prevented or cured.

Healthcare is a global, growing market due to an increasing population and an aging population. Effective treatments with gene and stem cell therapy are therefore also a great economic opportunity. The economic goal of RegMed XB is to enable Dutch businesses to develop these innovative products and processes together with researchers and to respond to a rapidly growing foreign market.

Health-RI: infrastructure for health data – 69 million euro

The second proposal within the theme of biomedical innovation is about setting up an integrated and secure national health data infrastructure. This involves pooling and reusing Dutch knowledge in the field of health, not a data infrastructure for patient care. The requested amount of 69 million euros from the public-private partnership Health-RI is also fully funded.

Data is currently still being managed in a fragmented way by many healthcare and science organizations such as the University Medical Centers. Joining forces is essential to develop new and more effective (personalized) solutions for diagnosis, treatment and prevention more quickly and cheaply. The large amount of new fundamental knowledge about lifestyle, health and disease, combined with a technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), contributes to both our health and to Dutch companies that are active in this field.

Scale up of Opschalen van hydrogen and green electrons in industry – 338 million euro

The Green Power proposal is partially funded (338 million euros) and is aimed at the upscaling of hydrogen and the application of green electrons in energy-intensive industries. It concerns an integrated approach by companies, governments and knowledge institutions in this sector, including a broadly coherent research and innovation program and an education agenda. Moreover, development can make a significant contribution to the climate challenge.

Public investments must create a powerful and flexible hydrogen ecosystem that forms the basis for the upscaling of hydrogen and electrochemistry. Industrial clusters with opportunities for this are the Northern Netherlands, Amsterdam, Rotterdam / Moerdijk, Zeeland, Arnhem, Brainport Eindhoven and Limburg (Chemelot).

More research and innovations are needed to ultimately be able to use green hydrogen efficiently and more cheaply. This also creates interesting revenue models for the Netherlands, both in a possible role as producer or international distributor.

AiNed: investment program artificial intelligence – 276 million euro

The Dutch AI Coalition (NL AIC), a public-private partnership of more than 250 participants, has been largely funded (276 million euros) for the first phase of its investment proposal for artificial intelligence (AI). The ambition of the so-called AiNed program is to get the Netherlands in the international leading group of countries, both in terms of social conditions and the economic utilization of AI.

AI can be widely applied for, for example, more efficient energy systems, smarter mobility and logistics or better healthcare. The proposal focuses on a coordinated Dutch approach to strengthen knowledge and applicability of AI through research, innovation, valorisation, education and to ensure people-oriented, responsible application of AI in society.

The focus in the approach for the accelerated application of AI in the Netherlands is on sectors that generate the most earning potential: high-tech industry, mobility, logistics, energy, health and care. The strategic program therefore invests in attracting and retaining talented AI scientists, training and education, developing social frameworks for applications and intensifying participation in European programs, so that more EU money comes to the Netherlands.

Second round of financing from National Growth Fund

In total, State Secretary Mona Keijzer submitted six proposals on behalf of the parties involved for the first round. The FoodSwitch proposal has not been accepted. The National Growth Fund has announced that a second round will follow this year in which improved and new proposals can be submitted for funding. Research and development (R&D) and innovation remain one of the pillars of the fund. A total of 20 billion euros is available from the fund until 2026, in the first round, 4 billion euros (partly conditionally) has been allocated and reserved today.

Holland High Tech (TKI HTSM) helps high tech SMEs innovate within the knowledge and innovation agendas in the Mission-driven Top Sectors and Innovation Policy. The RVO scheme for SME innovation stimulation Region and Top Sectors (MIT) stimulates innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises. RVO offers various instruments for this, of which Holland High Tech facilitates two instruments for the high tech sector;

Network Activities (NA)
Innovation Broker (IM)

Both the NetworkActivities and innovation advisory services by InnovationMakelaars must fit into one of the roadmaps of the Knowledge and Innovation Agenda, or in the KIA ICT.

Network Activities Regulations (NA)

Network activities may consist of: master classes, workshops or conferences to promote knowledge sharing and networking between SME entrepreneurs. The Network Activity itself and the results (presentations, knowledge documents, insights) must be accessible to all SMEs. For Network Activities, TKI HTSM uses a required statement of approval from a roadmap leader.

InnovatieMakelaars Scheme (IM)

Through this scheme, TKI HTSM enables SMEs to make free use of innovation advisory services from InnovationMakelaars affiliated with TKI HTSM. The type of advice may include the following services: consulting and knowledge transfer assistance; acquisition, protection and exploitation of intangible assets; the use of standards and rules in which these are laid down.

The advice offered by TKI HTSM is aimed at innovation of products, processes or services; providing technological assistance or technology transfer services. A direct link to one SME is mandatory for this. These SMEs are referred to by name on settlement. Indirect advice is not permitted, such as co-writing innovation agendas, participation in symposia or advice to clients other than SMEs.


For more information about the services and procedure, please contact Petra Wicherink, MIT officer Holland High Tech, via MIT@hollandhightech.nl. You can also find more inforamtion about the Innovatie Makelaars on the overview page of TKI HTSM.