New-style institutes for climate and data infrastructure

21 February 2022

There is a need to join forces and coordinate as quickly as possible on climate research and on data infrastructure, storage and management. These new alliances should take the form of new-style institutes that connect existing strengths in the Netherlands, bring together researchers from across disciplines, and drive national coordination. 

These are the conclusions of the advisory report National Institutes: Opportunities for the future (available in Dutch only) that the Permanent Committee for National Institutes (PCNI) has issued at the request of the Academy and NWO boards. The report also describes opportunities to redress the imbalance between incentive and long-term funding of research facilities. To arrive at its recommendations, the PCNI undertook extensive consultations with all the academic disciplines.

The NWO and Academy boards have welcomed the PCNI's recommendations: they recognise the needs identified in the areas of climate research and data infrastructure. In terms of climate research, NWO and the Academy will shortly be setting up a task force to work on uniting all the parties in the Netherlands involved in climate research, establish a new-style institute, and advise on a national programme for integrated climate research. The report's specific suggestions as to appropriate characteristics of new-style institutes will be very helpful in this regard. In terms of data infrastructure, NWO and the Academy will analyse in more detail precisely what those needs are and to what extent recent new initiatives can meet them.

Another task is to reconsider the method used to finance large-scale research facilities. There is an imbalance between the financing options for facility upgrades on the one hand and the financing options for their maintenance on the other. NWO and the Academy see opportunities to reassess the balance between the two in the new government's coalition agreement. The NWO and Academy institutes play a special role in this respect because of their importance in developing and upgrading national and international research facilities and ensuring access to these facilities in the longer term.

About the PCNI

NWO and the Academy established the PCNI in 2020 to advise them on broad developments in science and society of relevance to their portfolios of national research institutes. This first advisory report is the outcome of a series of consultations with researchers and university administrators across academia and a strategic conference in November 2021 with 150 attendees. Thanks to its chosen approach, the PCNI can count on receiving broad support from across all the domains of science and scholarship.

Read the response of the Academy and NWO governing boards to the PCNI’s report here (PDF in Dutch)

Read the PCNI's advisory report here (PDF in Dutch)