Research into ‘digital twins’ receives 5.6 million grant

November 8, 2019

The Eindhoven University of Technology, together with five other universities and twelve industrial partners, will start a five-year research program into so-called digital twins. Digital twins are virtual copies of high-tech systems which enable you to perform simulations based on data and artificial intelligence. The aim is to improve the design, production and maintenance of these types of systems. The research is part of a five-year research programme DIGITAL TWIN, funded by both NWO (4 million euros) and the participating companies (1.6 million euros).

DIGITAL TWIN stands for Integration of Data-drIves and model-based enGIneering in fuTure industriAL Technology With value chaIn optimizatioN. High-tech systems are becoming increasingly complex and difficult to design, produce and maintain. The DIGITAL TWIN program is developing methods to make accurate digital twins of these systems: virtual software versions that allow for simulations to predict, for example, how design changes will affect performance, or which component needs maintenance at which point in time.

Artificial Intelligence

Digital twins have so far mostly been based on static theoretical models of normal behaviour. By linking these models to measurement data that indicate how the system actually functions and by combining this data with artificial intelligence, the researchers will create digital copies that continuously improve and adapt themselves. The research focuses on a number of example systems that have been put forward by the Dutch high-tech companies involved in the programme.

The project will make the advantages of the autonomous and flexible development method of digital twins accessible to a wide public by means of two publicly accessible demonstration set-ups.


Each year, NWO finances four or six TTW Perspective programs, which are intended as an impulse to technological innovations. The programmes are implemented through broad public-private partnerships, in which knowledge institutions collaborate with companies and other partners.

In addition to the six universities of Eindhoven, Groningen, Delft, Twente, Leiden, and Tilburg, twelve industrial partners and knowledge organisations from the high-tech, metal, and composite industries are participating in the Digital Twin program. These include ASML, VDL, Tata Steel, Philips and Océ.

The research at the TU/e will be carried out under the responsibility of Nathan van de Wouw and Rob Fey (both of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering) and Mark van den Brand (Mathematics & Computer Science). 

Other grants

In addition to Digital Twin, three other research projects in which TU/e plays a role have been awarded a grant within the NWO Perspective program. They include research into the influence of salty seawater on the freshwater supply, the cultivation of vegetables in led-illuminated plants flats, and the automatic detection of pig and chicken behaviour in farms.


Media contact

Henk van Appeven
(Science Information Officer)