The annual Valorisation Award of the Netherlands Genomics Initiative (NGI), edition 2011 goes to the Centre for BioSystems Genomics (CBSG). ‘In recognition of their founding role of the DNA labs, their ongoing support and generous acknowledgement of the critical contribution of the other centres, this year’s award goes to the Centre for BioSystems Genomics’, states the jury, consisting of the members of NGI’s Valorisation Board.
The CBSG research activities are centred around tomatoes and potatoes. Its societal valorisation activities are focussed primarily on secondary school pupils.
CBSG has developed the first mobile DNA-lab, a two-hour lab course for secondary schools, that was the basis for the DNA-labs on the road that were later rolled out on a national level. In the UN Year of the Potato in 2008, CBSG coordinated a number of activities, amongst which: the ‘Hot Potato Tent’ at the national Food4You festival, the launch of the world’s first potato-flavoured ice cream, and a number of Kinderuniversiteit (Children’s University) sessions on extracting DNA from potatoes using simple household materials. Furthermore, the Centre co-designed the exhibition ‘Ongoing Evolution’ at the Science museum Utrecht, which was the most successful and most visited annual exhibition ever held at the museum.
The NGI Valorisation Award aims to stimulate the transfer of scientific knowledge to industry and society. With the 2011 Valorisation Award, NGI specifically aimed to reward the NGI Genomics Centre that has demonstrated excellence in societal valorisation: the use of results of scientific research for the benefit of society.
The Valorisation Award 2011 was presented during the Life Sciences Momentum by Godelieve van Heteren (Rotterdam Global Health Initiative), member of the NGI Valorisation Advisory Board. This advisory council provides both the Supervisory Board and the Director of NGI with strategic advice regarding valorisation. Furthermore, it acts as jury for the NGI Valorisation Award. The board further includes Rudy Dekeyser (Flemish Institute for Biotechnology, chairman), Clemens van Blitterswijk (University of Twente), René Kuijten (Life Sciences Partners), Angus Livingstone (University of British Colombia), and David Owen (ex-Medical Research Council Technology).
Stimulating valorisation as major ambition
The Valorisation Award is only one of the ways in which NGI seeks to advance valorisation. Valorisation of research results has always been a major ambition of NGI. Being able to effectively evaluate the results of scientific research at an early stage is a key factor in translating these results into successful applications. Moreover, the necessary resources and expertise must be committed early on. NGI has invested a total of €35 million in its own valorisation programme. A significant share of this budget is reserved for supporting spin-offs in the life sciences. A complete start-up support package has been created for this purpose: LifeSciences@work.