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On Wednesday 25 March, the space research institute SRON, the Province of Groningen and the University of Groningen signed the Deal of the North. The plan entails the parties investing over EUR 6.5 million in the next four years to strengthen scientific research and the high-tech infrastructure in the Northern Netherlands. The private sector will also contribute to these investments. In addition, SRON will continue to operate in Groningen.
These points were included in a cooperation agreement signed in Groningen by the Provincial Executive member for Economic Affairs for the Province of Groningen, Yvonne van Mastrigt LLM, Jan de Jeu, Vice Chair of the Board of the University of Groningen, and Paul Korting, chair of the board of SRON. The three administrators expressed their full confidence in the intensive cooperation and in the tangible benefits that the Deal of the North will have for the Northern Netherlands and its economy. Prof. Rens Waters, general and scientific director of SRON, then gave the official go-ahead for the collaboration.
First and foremost, the Deal of the North is intended to strengthen scientific research and teaching in astrophysics at SRON and the University. As a result, the number of academic positions at the Kapteyn Institute (the astronomical institute of the University of Groningen) and SRON is set to increase. The Kapteyn Institute will appoint an extra professor. Supported by the University, SRON will appoint a senior researcher and a research student (OIO: onderzoeker in opleiding). The agreement also includes funding for a SRON professor by special appointment at the University of Groningen.
In addition, the parties wish to strengthen the innovative capacity, technological profile and labour potential in the Northern Netherlands, as well as encourage the application of new technology. To this end, SRON intends to co-develop instruments with SMEs and industry, while the institute will also increase its valorization efforts together with the private sector. The space research institute has already built a ‘valorization lab’.
The Deal of the North should also lay a stronger foundation for participating in national and European top sector and other stimulation programmes, in particular through R&D collaboration between knowledge institutions and the private sector in the Northern Netherlands.
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As of March 1, 2021, Jochem Tolsma has been appointed as professor by special appointment of Social Divisions between Groups in the Department of Sociology at the University of Groningen.