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2. Knowledge and Entrepreneurship

Developments in 2020

The university demonstrated its entrepreneurship with a series of patents in 2020. Four were submitted by the university and seven by Radboud university medical center, including a treatment method for COVID-19 from Professor Mihai Netea’s team.

Mercator Launch is the starting point for entrepreneurship at the university, Radboud university medical center, and HAN University of Applied Sciences. It offers students, staff and researchers support in developing their ideas, from which new start-ups emerge every year. In 2020, Mercator Launch had 244 ongoing ventures (some begun before 2020) and 67 registrations with the Chamber of Commerce.

Entrepreneurship on campus took off in 2020 with the merger of five start-up support funds in Gelderland into Start-up Fonds Gelderland (Gelderland Start-up Fund). The university already participated in two of these funds: Gelderland Valoriseert (Valorising Gelderland) and Kennis Exploitatie Radboud Nijmegen (KERN; Knowledge Exploitation Radboud-Nijmegen). Gelderland wants to strengthen its leading position with even better support for start-ups. The consortium also includes partners such as Radboud university medical center, HAN, ArtEZ, kiEMT, Rabobank, the province of Gelderland and Oost NL.

In 2020, OnePlanet, the centre for knowledge and innovation in nutrition and health, was galvanised by a €65 million contribution received from the province of Gelderland the previous year. OnePlanet is a multidisciplinary collaboration between imec Netherlands, Radboud university medical center, Radboud University and Wageningen University & Research (WUR), who joined forces in 2020 to form the OnePlanet Research Center.

The thriving collaboration of the university in the regional economy is visible at the Novio Tech Campus, started with four companies on the former Philips industrial site in 2013. The synergy of entrepreneurship and research there now involves more than 3,400 employees at 70 companies, some of which have sprung from university initiatives.

Proof of Entrepreneurship

In 2020, the university and Radboud university medical center joined forces in the fight against COVID-19. Their main initiative was a crowdfunding platform for innovations and scientific research. Prior to that, the Radboud Fund (which funds activities at the university and Radboud university medical center) started supporting some innovative projects. One, developed by ICU doctor Hugo Touw (Radboud university medical center) and engineers from the Stoggerkelden company, involved respiratory equipment for COVID-19 patients. Their affordable innovation has been shared with companies far beyond the university’s borders.

Another success was AeroCount [EGS1] (incubated at Mercator Launch), a new company that developed a detection and filter system to measure fine dust and, if necessary, purify the air. The method originates from work in the Faculty of Science and was further developed by students as an internship project. AeroCount won the Jan Terlouw Ambition Prize in 2020 and was nominated for the Student Business Award. The winner of the Jan Terlouw Innovation Prize, BESE Products, also has a link to Radboud University.

Thirona brought another product of its scientific research to the market in 2020. This Radboud university medical center spin-off, founded by Professor of Functional Image Analysis Bram van Ginneken, creates software that can use artificial intelligence to detect the COVID-19 virus in an X-ray image. According to Van Ginneken, the invention is especially valuable for less fortunate countries. “They have hardly any testing capacity, there are no ICUs and you can forget trying to keep your distance in slums where everyone lives in close proximity to each other.”

Students were behind another successful spin-off: Gight, which develops light strips to help elderly people avoid falls: lights on the floor show the way. The effectiveness of the strips was established in a 2020 publication in the journal Gerontology. Eef Lamers, physics student and co-founder of Gight: “I’m happy that we were able to demonstrate that our product works. Elderly people are more likely to break bones when they fall, and they are slower to recover. Thanks to Gight, they can hopefully live independently for longer.”

Students were behind the successful spin-off Gight, which develops light strips to help elderly people avoid falls.