Faculty of Impact is a new national program for scientists that who want to turn their research into a business with impact. It is created by the Dutch universities (VSNU), together with our Dutch Research Council NWO and Techleap.
Faculty of Impact is not the first of its kind in the world. It’s especially inspired by three programs: Cyclotron Road at UC Berkeley, Runway at Cornell Tech and Activate at MIT. All three use a similar format: researchers get a grant for two years, to focus 100% of their time on turning their research into a business with impact. On top of that they get access to research labs, entrepreneurship training, coaching over the course of two years, support in the search for funding (both government grants and investor capital) and support in their search for customers.
All three programs have a focus. At Cyclotron Road fellows are working on energy technology, Runway in New York has an IT & Artificial Intelligence focus, while at MIT the fellows are workin on what is sometimes called ‘deep tech’. Faculty of Impact is different in two ways. We are the first impact fellowship program in the world that operates on a national level. And secondly, we work on different themes, which each new call. The first one is on sustainability.
During the development of the Faculty of Impact program, Runway, Cyclotron Road and Activate have been very generous in sharing their expertise and learnings. We will certainly keep collaborating with them in the coming years to constantly learn from each other and keep improving our work.
We learned about these programs because Frans Nauta, our program director, worked at Cyclotron Road in Berkeley in 2016. When he moved back to the Netherlands he started investigating if a similar program could work in the Netherlands. And with an ambitious twist: not for one university, but for all Dutch universities, universities of applied sciences and research institutes. Around that same time, Techleap and the VSNU were looking for new ways to boost the impact of science. In a small country, connecting people and ideas can be done very efficiently.
Not much later a delegation of universities, NWO and Techleap happened to visit California for a study tour, and Cyclotron Road was included in the program. It resulted in lots of enthusiasm and the start of a viability study of what now has become Faculty of Impact. It took over three years to get from that early idea to the start of the first NWO Faculty of Impact call on 11-11-2021. We are very excited to see what the fellows of Faculty of Impact will bring to the Netherlands and to the world.
That Faculty of Impact is now starting its work has been made possible by many people and their organizations. We’d like to say a big thank you to:
Ministry of Economic Affairs
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
And within those organizations there are a few people that require a special mention:
Mario van der Linden
Uzi de Haan