Utrecht-Eindhoven alliance

Since 2011, Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht and TU Eindhoven have formed a strategic alliance. This strengthens the existing links in research, education and knowledge valorisation.

The strategic alliance focuses on three major areas of research and education: sustainable energy, medical imaging and regenerative medicine.

Energy: Solar Fuels

The sun provides sufficient energy to meet the needs of the entire world population indefinitely. Today’s most important research question is: how can we capture this energy effectively and efficiently and store it for use at a later date? The Solar Fuels Catalysis graduate program examines whether and how catalysis can be used to produce fuels directly from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. In this research project expertise is integrated in such fields as spectroscopy, molecular catalysis, electrocatalysis and photocatalysis. The dream we cherish is to be able to take CO2 from the air and, with the aid of sunlight, convert it to liquid fuel. This and other fuel conversions depend entirely on catalysts. In the Gravitation program Netherlands Center for Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion, UU TU/e closely cooperate with UT to research a broad range of energy conversion technologies and principles. Within the advanced reseach center Chemical Building Blocks for a sustainable future, UU and TU/e work with RUG and private partners to further enhance research and innovation for novel sustainable energy and materials. 

Energy: Porous Media

A second initiative in the field of energy research is the UU-TU/e Darcy Center for Porous Media Science and Technology. The goal of Darcy Center is to advance porous media research in the areas of novel porous materials, transport of mass and heat in deformable porous media, and reactive energy storage in porous materials. The Center responds to the strong demand for innovative fundamental and applied research in order to meet today’s societal challenges. It invites academia and industries to join forces in advancing porous media research in the Netherlands. Through joint research activities, PhD and postdoc projects, staff secondments, joint research proposals and joint student courses on both graduate and undergraduate levels, the partner institutes participate in each other’s research and educational ecosystems to expand and deepen the common knowledge base.

Medical imaging

UMC Utrecht, Utrecht University, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Philips have clustered their knowledge, expertise and innovative power to collaboratively research and develop new methods of diagnosis and treatment involving medical imaging. Within the Innovative Medical Devices Initiative, they are concentrating on the more effective treatment of cancer, brain diseases and heart and vascular diseases. The consortium is directing its energies at the development of new minimally invasive, image-driven treatments that are based on high- precision MRI and X-ray imaging. The remit also includes the development of navigation technologies designed to increase the accuracy of treatments of this type and reduce their complexity. In short, ‘Operating without cutting.’

Regenerative medicine

Repairing damaged tissues or organs using the patient’s own living tissues and cells; this is the essence of regenerative medicine. Stem cells have a key role to play in this process. They provide the material for cultivating blood vessels, heart muscle or bone fragments. TU/e and UMC Utrecht are also cooperating in the field of regenerative medicine. An example: the group in Utrecht is keen to research tissue repair and the behavior of stem cells under conditions found in the body, for example under certain pressure or traction. The group in Eindhoven is able to simulate an environment in which such testing is possible. Based on this research, a joint master Regenerative Medicine and Technology is offered. Also the SUMMA tech is offered for physicians and medical researchers with an affinity for technology. In alliance with TU Eindhoven, Utrecht University also appointed Professor Keita Ito as Professor of Mechanobiology in Orthopaedic Regenerative Medicine at University Medical Center Utrecht. In addition to this cooperation, UU, UMCU and TU/e work with other universities and private partners in RegMed XB. In RegMed XB, research and clinical translation are integrated to quickly and optimally bring research results into patient solutions and new businesses.

Intensified cooperation

In 2017, UU, UMCU and TU/e have intensified their cooperation by investing 10 mln euro in a number of projects. These projects strengthen the focus of the alliance on energy and health, but also explore a number of emerging research challenges. The following projects have been awarded:

Projects of 1,7-2 mln euro each:

  • Plasma Medicine (Sobota, Kroesen TU/e; Killian, Breukink, De Kroon, Oliveira UU; Van Diest, Van Strijp UMCU)
  • Joint Center for Chemergy Research (JCCR) (Weckhuysen UU; Hensen TU/e)
  • Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging (IDII) (Van der Vosse, Pluim TU/e; Luijten, Viergever UMC Utrecht)

Projects of 0,5 mln each:

  • Freezing hearts (Voets TU/e, Wennekes UU, Van Laake UMCU)
  • UEBIT: Utrecht/Eindhoven Brain Interaction Technologies  (Ramsey UU, Cantatore TU/e)
  • COVIDA: “Computing Visits Data” for Dutch Natural Language Processing in Mental Healthcare (Spruit UU, Kaymak TU/e, Scheepers UMCU)
  • Vital Generation 2040 (Bottenburg UU, Brombacher TU/e, Jambroes UMCU)
  • Human-AI (artifical intelligence): (Aarts UU, Markopoulos TU/e)
  • Fair Energy Transition (Duwell UU, Alkemade TU/e)