Our ambition is to take a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to solving diverse issues of social relevance. We do so via our research, but also by being meaningful to society in other ways. In 2022, we again launched various initiatives to give substance to these efforts. A selection of them follows.
1. Social influence of research and institutes
Collaboration with Alliander
Radboud University and Alliander, the energy distribution network company, will work closely together. On 1 March 2022, the two organisations signed a declaration of intent with the aim of better aligning research, education and the professional field, and thus providing the best possible support for the energy transition.
The demand for sustainably generated electricity is growing rapidly in the current energy transition. This poses major challenges for the electricity network. Many of these challenges intersect with research areas at Radboud University, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) for optimising electricity and gas distribution networks, and developing and optimising assistive technologies for physical and administrative work. The legal, social and societal aspects of the energy transition are also being examined.
On Friday 14 October 2022, Princess Laurentien launched the updated version of the Letterprins reading app, an online game that helps children learn to read (or read better). This educational game helps children improve their reading skills at home. In the updated version, an algorithm matches the exercises to the child’s results: a child who reads faster and makes fewer mistakes is given more difficult tasks or words alternate more quickly. The use of silly surprise phrases (e.g. ‘I spread my sandwich with socks’) helps children remember the material better. With Letterprins, children first practise the things they do well, followed by opportunities to correct mistakes. As a result, they read increasingly faster and more accurately. Existing methods mainly focus on errors, but this slows down reading speed.
In 2022, the NeurotechEU Office and its organisational management was brought into the Faculty of Science. In the process, a change of programme coordinator took place this year: Paul Verschure succeeded Tansu Celikel. With the arrival of Paul Verschure, eight dimensions on which NeurotechEU will develop further have been defined; these were adopted on 17 May in Cluj, Romania at the 3rd Board of Rectors meeting of the participating partners. A midterm review was also successfully conducted this year on the first set of deliverables for the eight work packages; Radboud University took the lead in this as coordinator.
A Donders summer school for neurotechnology was organised in Berg en Dal from 5 to 16 September; 15 students from NeurotechEU participated.
During the past year, Radboud University has worked as consortium leader to ensure the admission of two prospective partners: the University of Lille and Reykjavik University. The admission of these partners was approved during the 4th Board of Rectors meeting for phase 2. In late 2022, this application for phase 2 of NeurotechEU was initiated at the European Commission; the NeurotechEU project office at Radboud University is taking the lead on this effort.
2. Exceptional social initiatives
This year, Radboud University organised various events related to sustainability and impact.
Radboud Impact Festival
In May, the Radboud Green Office, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Pink Week and Islam Awareness Week jointly organised the first Radboud Impact Festival, together with 16 other partners. Students and staff learned how they can make an impact on and off campus, through our education and research and in everyday life. The week kicked off with the Impact Experience on Erasmus Square, where sustainable student organisations interacted with students while a DJ and stilt walkers created the festival vibe. For the rest of the week, visitors could participate in workshops, interviews, lectures and cultural events at both Radboud University and Radboud university medical center. There was a total of about 1,300 visitors throughout the week.
In November, the Laudato Si’ Alliance Netherlands and the Socires think tank organised an event titled From Climate Depression to Sustainable Hope. Bishop Gerard de Korte and climate activist Rozemarijn van ’t Einde each gave a lecture about their struggle for a sustainable society and a just future. There were also several workshops on sustainable living, systems change, reflection, storytelling, philosophy, coaching and more.
Score THE Impact Ranking
Radboud University achieved an overall score of 73.6 (out of 100) points last year. This more than satisfactory performance earned the university a spot in the upper-middle rankings, with a place between 301-400 out of 1406 participating universities (24.9th percentile). The year before, we were also ranked between 301-400 out of 1115 participating universities (31.4th percentile), with 70.0 points.
This year, Radboud University finished in fifth place in the SustainaBul sustainability ranking from Students for Tomorrow, a sharp increase from our score in previous years. Among other things, we achieved full marks in the best practices category with our special transdisciplinary courses (i.e. courses open to students from all faculties and focused on cross-fertilisation and collaboration), the SDG course, and Climate Crisis. Click here to read the full benchmark report (in Dutch).
3. Research and entrepreneurship
Radboud University had a significant impact on the innovation ecosystem in 2022. In the past year, Radboud Innovation and Radboud Innovation Science identified 71 new inventions. In doing so, the university shows that it plays an important role in the development of new technologies and products. In addition, five patent applications were filed, three licences were granted, and a number of IP rights were transferred to third parties. The societal value of these results is enormous. The new inventions contribute to improvements in various industries and fields, such as health care, technology and the environment. The patent applications and licences allow the university and its researchers to commercialise their work, which can lead to the development of new products and services that benefit society.
Startup Fonds Gelderland
In early 2022, Startup Fonds Gelderland (the Gelderland Start-Up Fund) officially launched as a successor to the Gelderland valoriseert programme. This will give new start-ups in the region a chance to make their entrepreneurship possible with a pre-seed loan. Start-ups can apply for a subordinated loan of at least €30,000 and at most €250,000. A unique feature of Startup Fonds Gelderland is its link to the support programmes Orion, StartLife and Briskr, which provide smart guidance to start-ups before and after a loan is granted. Radboud University is involved in implementing the fund and is a consortium partner in the Orion and Briskr support programmes.
The university has participated twice in the national Venture Challenge and achieved victory there. In addition, the university organised the Innovation Competition, a platform for academic entrepreneurs to pitch and develop their ideas, which can lead to the creation of new companies with new jobs and economic growth. The university also applied for and was awarded six Take-Off grants, making €240,000 of funding available for new innovative projects and entrepreneurship. Finally, the university is a partner in an approved grant application for setting up a new national Space incubator.
The university's incubator, Mercator Launch, plays an important role in supporting budding entrepreneurs. It offers a diverse and inclusive programme aimed at supporting entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and sectors. Mercator Launch has supported more than 100 entrepreneurs, 25% of whom are women and 30% who come from science. The successful approach has led to 11 newly founded companies, including spin-offs like QurieGen, Simmunext and GlycoTherapeutics. Together, they have raised over €1.5 million in pre-seed funding that will give entrepreneurs the opportunity to realise their ideas and grow their businesses.
4. Radboud University in the media
We aim to increase the visibility, recognisability and attractiveness of Radboud University among our key target groups. We also want to contribute to the public debate. By the end of 2022, we had developed a creative concept to link eight organisational units to our corporate message and campaign.
In 2022, Radboud University was mentioned 18,071 times in newspapers, magazines, radio, television and online media. That is practically the same number as in 2021.
Our potential reach fluctuated monthly in 2022, in a fairly similar manner to 2021. But in 2022, the mentions reached a combined potential audience of over 2.4 billion readers, listeners and viewers, up from 1.8 billion in 2021.
Thus, one may conclude that Radboud University is generally quite visible in the news media. We employ a substantial number of scholars who regularly offer commentary on topics that are commonly covered by the press.
Journalists regularly seek out Radboud University researchers in connection with various social issues. Sometimes, these are topics that we, as a university, publicise ourselves; other times, journalists more often seem to seek out our university for articles related to these topics. Radboud University researchers in particular are regularly asked for clarifications about the following themes:
On the topic of sustainability, Radboud scientists were featured in news reports about the nitrogen crisis and farmers’ protests in 2022. In particular, lawyers Ralph Frins, Hansko Broeksteeg, Henny Sackers and Jacques Sluysmans frequently explained the legal limits of the nitrogen policy and the protests. The UN climate summit and biodiversity summit were commented on by policy researchers Heleen de Coninck and Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers, respectively.
Privacy is an increasingly hot topic. Lawyer Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius spoke to journalists about data leaks in political apps, digital discrimination and fines for big tech companies. Jaap-Henk Hoepman, privacy researcher, discussed digital identity cards and the risks of smart energy meters, as well as the use of user data by the police. Other frequent commentators include Bart Jacobs (e.g. on the use of data by the government), Marlies van Eck (on the risks of AI for lawyers) and Pieter Wolters (on the privacy risks of TikTok).
Radboud University was regularly mentioned in the press for its political research. For example, political scientist Carolien van Ham joined the NOS live broadcast on the municipal elections. Ira Helsloot, Niels Spierings and Kristof Jacobs also provided commentary on the elections.
Journalists seeking comments on the topic of migration regularly approached Radboud researchers, especially researchers from the Centre for Migration Law, which received the Hermesdorf Award in early 2022. For example, Carolus Grütters spoke on Radio 1 about the crisis in Ter Apel and in de Volkskrant about the reception of Russian asylum seekers. Tesseltje de Lange told Trouw about the rules surrounding asylum-seeking procedures, and Tineke Strik spoke about the unmerciful treatment of refugees.
In addition to its coverage of our research, the media also reported on other developments at Radboud University. In October, an emergency shelter for 200 to 350 refugees opened on the grounds of Radboud University. The news was picked up by NU.nl, NOS, De Telegraaf, Omroep Gelderland, the Algemeen Dagblad and the Gelderlander, among others.
The Hermesdorf Award and Hermesdorf Talent Award are awarded every year to researchers who have shown a certain degree of courage, stuck their necks out, and refused to flinch in the face of opposition. Every year, the Hermesdorf Award goes to senior researchers at Radboud University or Radboud university medical center, and the Hermesdorf Talent Award goes to a researcher at the start of their career.
Winner of the 2022 Hermesdorf Award
COVID-19 has dominated our world for nearly three years now. In addition to praise, scientific experts also received many extremely negative reactions and sometimes even threats. For the past two years, epidemiologist Alma Tostmann and Professor of Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases Chantal Rovers have devoted a lot of energy to sharing their knowledge about the COVID-19 virus with the public. Within the Netherlands, the two have grown into some of the most important and familiar faces within the COVID-19 debate. They tirelessly and enthusiastically commented on current events and scientific developments, distinguishing facts from fiction and inviting people into dialogue. In doing so, they showed themselves to be real ambassadors of science. During the most difficult waves of the pandemic, they were certainly no meek government mouthpieces. On the contrary, they also and especially spoke up when they believed that government policy was moving in the wrong direction. In addition to appearances in national and regional media, the two researchers were and still are also very active on Twitter, taking the time and space to provide additional explanations. All these media appearances around COVID-19 took place outside their regular and busy working hours.
Winner of the 2022 Hermesdorf Talent Award
The public debate around the climate is oftentimes heated, and climate researchers sometimes become the target of negative reactions. Kiane de Kleijne, PhD candidate in Environmental Science, conducts research on climate and the energy transition. She co-authored the IPCC report and in 2022 she published a scientific paper with an uncomfortable message: the reuse of CO2 is less sustainable that it seems. This publication attracted a lot of attention from national and international media. Despite the at times grim atmosphere of the public climate debate, Kiane de Kleijne continued to speak up, with growing frequency and self-assurance. She took the time to extensively talk to journalists and explain important things about the climate, energy and her specific research.
Radboud Recharge is Radboud University’s lifelong learning service. It features scholarly stories and activities, current opinions of academics and stories about Radboud University past and present. In 2022, we published 642 articles.
You have a part to play
On Thursday 2 June, the SAN Accent awards were presented in Hilversum. Radboud University won an Accent for its ‘You have a part to play’ campaign on Radboud Impact Day. The theme of the 2022 SAN Awards was ‘Raak me’ (touch me). Radboud University delivered on that in November: the campaign has touched people and made an impact. Our message received a lot of attention, not only within the Radboud University community, but also in the national media.
SAN stands for Stichting Adverteerdersjury Nederland (the Dutch Advertisers’ Jury Association). The SAN Accents are awards presented annually to the most appealing and effective campaigns in the Netherlands. It is unusual for a university campaign to win an award in competition with major commercial brands. But in 2020, Radboud University already won an Esprix, another professional award for marketing communication campaigns, for its first ‘You have a part to play’ campaign.
5. Contributing to the SDGs with publications
At the behest of the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL), efforts were made to map out how the publications of all Dutch universities relate to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goal is to gain a better understanding of the scientific and social contribution universities make to these development goals. This has also been clarified for Radboud University via a dashboard. The graphic below shows Radboud University’s contribution to the SDGs in the form of scientific publications from 2010 to 2021. The larger the block, the more we have published about that theme.
The SDGs are: 1. No Poverty; 2. Zero Hunger; 3. Good Health and Well-Being; 4. Quality Education; 5. Gender Equality; 6. Clean Water and Sanitation; 7. Affordable and Clean Energy; 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth; 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; 10. Reduced Inequalities; 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities; 12. Responsible Consumption and Production; 13. Climate Action; 14. Life below Water; 15. Life on Land; 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; 17. Partnerships for the Goals.
For each SDG, the graph below shows the percentage of publications by Radboud University belonging to the top 10% most cited publications of all scientific articles published about that SDG. Radboud University’s data are compared to the average of all Dutch universities.