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New-style institutes for climate and data infrastructure

Permanent Committee on National Institutes (PCNI) advises NWO and KNAW

There is an urgent need for partnerships and coordination when it comes to climate research and data infrastructure, storage, and management. These new alliances should take the form of new-style institutes that connect existing strengths in the Netherlands, bring together researchers from across disciplines, and drive national coordination. That can be read in the advisory report 'National institutes: opportunities for the future' which was published in early February by the Permanent Committee on National Institutes (PCNI) at the request of the NWO and the KNAW executive boards.

The report also describes opportunities for redressing the imbalance between incentive funding and long-term funding of scientific infrastructure. In developing these recommendations, the PCNI carried out extensive consultations within all scientific disciplines at the request of NWO and KNAW.

The boards of NWO and KNAW responded enthusiastically to the recommendations: they recognise the needs that need to be addressed regarding the climate and data infrastructure. In terms of the climate, NWO and KNAW will soon set up a task force that will focus on bringing together all the players in the country involved in climate research, thus creating a new-style institute, and it will also advise on a national research programme for integrated climate research. The advisory report's concrete suggestions on the desirable characteristics of the new-style institutes will be useful in that respect. In terms of data infrastructure, NWO and KNAW will carry out a more detailed analysis of the precise needs and to what extent new initiatives that have recently been launched can meet them.

There is also a need to reconsider the way in which large-scale scientific infrastructure is funded. There is an imbalance between the funding options for renewing and maintaining infrastructure. NWO and KNAW believe the new coalition agreement will create opportunities to restore this balance. The institutes of NWO and KNAW play a special role in this process due to their important function in developing, renewing, and keeping (inter)national infrastructure accessible for the long term.

About the PCNI

NWO and KNAW established the PCNI (2020) to advise on scientific and social developments that the portfolios of the national research institutes of NWO and KNAW should address. These initial recommendations are the result of a series of consultations with scientists and university administrators from all scientific fields and a strategic conference in November 2021 with 150 participants. Thanks to the chosen approach, the PCNI recommendation can count on broad support across all scientific disciplines.

Download board response

Please download the board response on the NWO website.



NWO Institutes and climate

At the NWO Institutes, the climate is also high on the agenda. DIFFER, SRON and ASTRON recently published the following climate-related news items:

DIFFER: European researchers achieve fusion energy record

EUROfusion announced record results in a new deuterium-tritium campaign in JET. EUROfusion states that these results are the clearest demonstration in a quarter of a century of the potential for fusion energy to deliver safe and sustainable low-carbon energy. DIFFER researchers from the Integrated Modelling and Transport group led by Jonathan Citrin have made major contributions to the development of the core plasma transport models and were part of the EUROfusion team that predicted the performance achieved in these experiments.

SRON: Knowledge institutes join forces for research into climate change and air pollution using satellites

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, and TU Delft will jointly realise research and technology development in the area of Earth observation. The aim of establishing the Clear Air consortium is to strengthen the leading knowledge position of the Netherlands in using satellites to measure emissions and the composition of the atmosphere. Governments and companies can use that knowledge to limit climate change, air pollution, and biodiversity loss. The collaboration was formalised at the start of February with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and the publication of a vision document that describes the ambition of the partners.

ASTRON: Two ERC Starting Grants awarded to (space) weather research projects with the LOFAR radio telescope

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded two of its prestigious Starting Grants to ASTRON scientists for research projects using the LOFAR radio telescope. One project will use LOFAR to create detailed images of lightning on Earth and the other aims to detect space weather events and magnetic fields around exoplanets.

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