Growth Fund boosts sustainable aviation and next generation high tech

News - 14 April 2022

Just this afternoon, the Dutch Cabinet has announced the National Growth Fund investments. hese investments will help the Netherlands to become a global leader in sustainable aviation and hightech. Projects in cellular agriculture and biotech have also received generous funding.

The most high-profile projects in which TU Delft is involved: 383 million for sustainable aviation, 450 million for a next generation high tech equipment, 325 million for the development of innovative cancer medicines, 471 million for integrated photonics, 246 million for innovation in biotech, 200 million for the construction of sustainable collective heating systems and 60 million for cellular Agriculture*. Together with partners, TU Delft is involved in a total of 15 proposals.

Interaction of the investments
According to Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the Growth Fund advisory committee that assessed the applications, there is a 'nicely varied package' of proposals. He also emphasizes the importance of investing in the quality of education and Lifelong Development. “Because we need more professionals to ensure that projects are carried out. A nice interaction of the investments.”

Strengthening innovation ecosystems
The proposals contribute to economic growth, strengthening the research and innovation ecosystems and the international knowledge and competitive position of the Netherlands. Minister Adriaanse (Economic Affairs and Climate): “Our current prosperity and the large government expenditure of today would not have been possible without investments from the past. I want us to be able to continue investing in society in the future. To pay for that, we need economic growth. The National Growth Fund makes sustainable growth possible: the prosperity of tomorrow starts today.”

Accelerate urgent transitions
Tim van der Hagen, President of the Board and Rector Magnificus of TU Delft, is very pleased by the outcome. “The investments underscore the important role TU Delft plays in themes such as sustainable aviation. We believe climate neutral air travel to be achievable by 2050, but it will require radical innovation. The same is true for green hydrogen: to maintain a leading position as the Netherlands, the production of sustainable hydrogen must be scaled up considerably. At TU Delft campus, we develop the essential new ideas, technologies and applications, together with industry partners, government agencies and other knowledge institutes. Not only for sustainable aviation and green hydrogen, but also for other important themes such as biotech, cellular agriculture, and sustainable materials. Thanks to the investments of the Growth Fund, we can accelerate the necessary transitions in all these domains.”

Follow-up investments in Quantum Delta Netherlands
Follow-up investments in innovative projects from the first round of the Growth Fund (spring 2021) were also announced today. The conditional awards to Quantum Delta Netherlands (228 million) and RegMed XB (33 million) have been converted into definitive investments. In addition, the reservation for AiNed has partly been converted into a definitive investment (116.5 million).

*The amount quoted is based on full funding and conditional funding. In the case of conditional funding, the consortium that submitted the proposal has been requested to provide additional information before the final decision is taken.

The projects funded by the National Growth Fund in which TU Delft is involved, are:

Flying changes
The Dutch aviation sector has the opportunity to act as a pioneer in Europe in the transition to sustainable aviation. To this end, Aviation in Transition develops technology, products and knowledge for which there is a rapidly increasing demand from the world market. Aviation in Transition thus increases the structural earning capacity of the Dutch economy and accelerates the tackling of the negative effects of aviation, in line with the IPCC recommendations. This project is being led by a consortium of Royal Schiphol Group, Aerospace Netherlands, SkyNRG, Royal NLR, TU Delft and their partners.

NEXTGEN Hightech
The next generation of high-tech equipment, for future generations. A quantum jump is needed. The production of high-tech equipment in the Netherlands is world-class and it accounts for a large proportion of our export. Our current international position is a result of the expertise, entrepreneurship, and collaborative mentality of the parties in the Dutch ecosystem. While facing urgent societal challenges, the worldwide competition is growing fiercer, and the required investments are ever increasing. The NEXTGEN HIGHTECH investment programme tackles all these challenges at once.

Cellular Agriculture
Global demand for animal proteins (especially meat and dairy) is expected to continue to increase (30 – 50% in 2050). A further expansion of today’s agriculture comes with major challenges. This has raised the interest in alternative sources of proteins. Cellular Agriculture is a promising technology in which cells are grown rather than raising livestock – thereby allowing the animal and planet-friendly production of meat and dairy products. This project aims to make the Netherlands a world-leader in Cellular Agriculture.

Groenvermogen II (Green Power II)
Hydrogen plays a central role in our economy. Currently, the Netherlands are the second largest producer of hydrogen in Europe, with an annual production of 16.5 billion cubic meters of hydrogen. We must increase the production of green hydrogen if we want to maintain this position in a climate neutral world. The Green Power II programme facilitates this aim by tendering contracts for electrolysis facilities of at least 100 MW. On the one hand, these electrolysers will increase the production capacity for green hydrogen. They are, however, also essential in acquiring the knowledge and experience needed to allow scaling up to facilities of 1000 MW. The facilities in operation help us to tackle innovation challenges, such as dealing with fluctuations in the availability of green electricity and green hydrogen.

A major advancement in the development of extra-resilient crops is deemed of absolute importance as climate extremes continue to increase at a global level. These stronger crops are the only way in which agriculture and horticulture can continue to provide enough food and other produce for an ever-increasing world population over the next few decades. CROP-XR is a collaboration between renowned research groups and world-leading Dutch plant breeding companies. Together, they will develop a revolutionary method to increase the speed with which new crops can be made more resilient. They propose an innovative integration of modern plant biology with artificial intelligence (AI) and working models, to help understand and predict how the complex interplay of genetic factors can increase the ability of plants to withstand stressful conditions.

Oncode PACT
Developing new cancer drugs is too costly, takes too long, and they are only beneficial for a subset of patients. Most importantly, it neglects the patient who is battling cancer right now. Oncode-PACT aims to offer solutions for all these problems. The ambition of Oncode-PACT is to have new and demonstrably effective cancer drugs produced much quicker and cheaper. Using a combination of organoid technology and artificial intelligence, patient data and patient tissue will enter the development process at a much earlier stage. This will allow a very early assessment of the effectiveness and safety of potential drugs.

The PhotonDelta programme will raise the Dutch ecosystem for integrated photonics to a best-in-class level. Development of photonic technology can help tackle societal challenges such as sustainability and lead the way towards a new European industry and many new applications such as quantum computing. By 2030, the PhotonDelta ecosystem will have grown to hundreds of companies, a worldwide clientele, and an annual production capacity of 100.000 wafers.

Nieuwe Warmte Nu! (NWN!)
The NWN!-programme will accelerate the construction of sustainable collective heating systems, at a reduced cost to society. Economies of scale and innovations will reduce costs in the entire value chain – from renewable sources to infrastructure and connections to buildings and greenhouses. The investment by the National Growth Fund enables the start of construction of 32 sustainable collective heating systems and the demonstration of 8 additional innovations in 2022-2023. This will improve the sustainability of 100.000 homes and 1680 acres of greenhouses. These efforts will serve as a flywheel, bringing the goals of the national climate agreement to within reach.

Sustainable MaterialsNL
Scaling up of innovations in sustainable materials enables the energy transition and offers solutions for sustainability questions, while also offering economic opportunities. Establishing a sustainable future requires innovative solutions to curb CO2 emissions and reduce material waste – with a key role for functional, sustainable and circular materials innovations. The materials transition is a shift to the economically viable production and use of sustainable and 100% circular materials that have new and enhanced functionalities. The Netherlands has an excellent starting position. Committing ourselves to this transition now offers large economic and societal opportunities.

Biotech Booster
Biotech Booster is the missing link in the valorisation chain and aims to put the Netherlands right at the centre of worldwide biotechnology. The translation of biotech knowledge into new products and services is hampered by a systemic failure in valorisation and market failure in financing. Biotech Booster builds a unique public-private coalition of universities, academic medical centres, university colleges and companies. This coalition will accelerate the transformation of biotech knowledge into valuable innovations – such as the application of red biotech in biosensors for prevention, green biotech for a prolonged shelf life of food, and white biotech in algae and therefore biofuels.

Digitalisation-impulse education NL
The aim of the Digitalisation-impulse Education NL is to exploit the opportunities offered by digitalisation to use world-class education in preparing learners for a rapidly and continually changing job market and society. First and foremost, it will help create an accessible knowledge infrastructure as we need a better understanding of which digital means and implementations raise the quality of education. The proposed Centres for Teaching and Learning will help us to actualise the potential of digital innovations at the level of educational institutions, thereby raising the quality of education for both teachers and learners.

The National LLD-accelerator
The LLD-accelerator provides an impulse to the national ecosystem for Life-Long Development by accelerating the process of demand articulation, product development and activating the labour force. The LLD radar reveals the skills that will be in demand in the (near) future. Regional “transition deals” will reconcile the demand for learning and the supply of training pathways. At the end of its five-year runtime, the ecosystem will be self-supporting in tracking market demand, generating a demand-oriented supply and stimulating participation in LLD.

Growth Plan Water-technology (for this project a reservation has been made)
According to the World Economic Forum, water scarcity is one of the largest threats to worldwide prosperity. This translates into a great opportunity for the Dutch water technology sector which, traditionally, has been heavily export oriented. The Growth Plan Water-technology will boost growth and export of this sector. At the same time, it will secure the availability of clean water within the Netherlands – for drinking water, nature, and for water-intensive (export) industries such as agriculture and horticulture. The Growth Plan comprises the entire knowledge and innovation ecosystem – from research to further development, scaling up and (inter)national exploitation – and it strengthens coordination within the sector and with other sectors.

NL2120, the green earning power ((for this project a reservation has been made)
Urgent challenges, such as climate change and the decrease in biodiversity, threaten the earning power and liveability of the Netherlands and river deltas worldwide. It is essential to come to a comprehensive approach for the sustainable and climate-proof use of land and water systems. The NL2120 knowledge and innovation programme invests in the research of nature-based solutions. The knowledge and experience gained within this program will help in making policy decisions aimed at future-proof area development within the Netherlands. The programme will boost the already prominent position of Dutch knowledge institutes and companies in the fields of climate adaptation, water, and agriculture.

Future-proof living environment: Transition to Emission-free, Circular and Climate-proof Buildings and Infrastructure (for this project a reservation has been made)
The design, building and engineering sectors are characterised by traditional working methods, a wide diversity in the parties involved, and strong fragmentation. These characteristics are detrimental to tackling the ever more complex challenges in housing construction, renovation and the maintenance and management of infrastructure, taking into account the aspirations of both citizens and commissioning parties. This Growth Fund project will break down existing barriers to build a functioning and self-sustaining ecosystem in which parties continually collaborate and produce innovative technologies, services and tendering procedures.

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