More than 100 million euros for Dutch top science 

8 May 2017

Two research teams, which include UvA researchers, have each received 18.8 million euros to jointly set up excellent scientific research programmes in the coming years. The Dutch Minister of Education Culture and Science, Jet Bussemaker, has made a total of 112.8 million euros available to six research teams of top researchers from various Dutch universities.

The two projects in which the UvA will participate are in the areas of quantum computers and quantum networks, and Greco-Roman antiquity.

The programmes

Quantum Software Consortium

Quantum computers and quantum networks have the potential to radically change information and communication technology due to the power of quantum superposition, interference and entanglement. Several applications of such quantum computers and networks have been known since the 1990s but these require large-scale systems that still lie in the future. Smaller systems (with a very limited number of quantum bits) already exist and slightly larger quantum computers and networks will be available in the near future. This will make it possible for the first time to program quantum computers and networks as well as to develop and test the software for these. The Quantum Software Consortium will bring together researchers from computer science, mathematics and physics to invent and demonstrate the first applications for these computers and the internet of the future. 

Anchoring innovation

The ancient Greeks and Romans were great innovators. New ideas abounded in science and technology, literature and arts, politics, the economy and many other domains of life. How did those innovations come about? How do inventions and new ideas turn into actual (accepted) innovation? This is studied by a team of Dutch classicists (OIKOS). 

Our hypothesis is that tradition and innovation are not simply juxtaposed or even opposed. In successful innovations, people perceive a meaningful coherence between the new and the familiar. For this multifaceted phenomenon OIKOS uses the concept of ‘anchoring’. Developing this concept in an investigation of Greco-Roman antiquity results in a new and better understanding of innovation processes of all times.

Gravitation programme

With the grants, the researchers will be able to do top-level university research for a period of ten years and collaborate at the highest scientific level. 

The grants are part of the Gravitation programme funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) selected the research groups on behalf of the Ministry. In the groups, researchers from various universities work together on setting up excellent scientific research programmes. The last grants were awarded in 2013. 

Minister Bussemaker emphasised the importance of fundamental research: ‘With this we encourage curiosity-driven, free and curiosity-driven research that is vitally important for realising breakthroughs. I am pleased that on this occasion research proposals within the humanities and social sciences have been awarded funding as well.’ 

Furthermore, Minister Bussemaker was enthusiastic about the diversity of men and women within the consortia: ‘Diversity within science is important. Four of the six main applicants are women and a large proportion of the researchers within the consortia are women. That was not the case in previous rounds.’ 

Selection procedure 

NWO received 37 applications for funding within Gravitation. The assessment, comparison of the applications and selection was performed by expert referees and an international independent committee of researchers with a broad knowledge of scientific developments and experience with large scientific research groups. 

Published by  University of Amsterdam