In November, Wageningen obtained a grant of over 18 million euros for setting up an equipment centre for the university and companies to make use of.
The driving forces behind the application were Frans Kampers and Han Zuilhof of the Laboratory for Organic Chemistry. 'For a successful grant application you have to look for a win-win situation in which several parties benefit. There is plenty of money', says Kampers.
Thanks to the new equipment centre, Wageningen UR will really have something to offers its partners: very expensive apparatus can be rented for a friendly price from the equipment centre. 'In the near future we shall be able to offer state-of-the-art apparatus to our own scientists, but also to businesses and other partners', Kampers explains. Because collaboration and a more businesslike orientation are important aspects of the plan. 'Wageningen is a rising star and we have to make sure we are an attractive partner. SO CAT-Agrofood is exactly what we need', adds Zuilhof.
According to Kampers, there is a lot of interest, not least because of the choice of equipment. Zuilhof: 'The machines planned for the centre have been chosen so that they be used by many people in Wageningen, and are also of interest to our future external partners'. One example on the list is a brand new MRI scanner with a price tag of a mere 2 million euros. Good for the university, but also for the Gelderse Vallei hospital in Ede. Thought has gone into the finances too, so that the centre will be viable. Kampers: 'We don't want CAT-Agrofood to become a second Restaurant of the Future, in financial terms. So for example, in new PhD projects there is budget for hiring the equipment.'
Amongst other things, the centre will focus on nanotechnology, applied to typical Wageningen subjects such as life sciences, nutrition and health. The initiators are confident that nanotechnology has a lot to contribute to the development of new emulsions or new textures in foods. But it is no coincidence that the word nanotechnology is not in the centre's name. 'Companies don't want to be too openly associated with the still rather loaded term nanotechnology', explains Kampers.