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On March 12, 2024, the institute for a Circular Society and the Artificial Intelligence Programme of the EWUU Alliance, in collaboration with the Province of Utrecht and the Utrecht Municipality, organised a vibrant session of the European Funding Network Utrecht. Under the theme of the digital society, an enlightening gathering was held focusing on the opportunities for European projects in the digital sphere, with lots of opportunities for networking.

The day kicked off with an inspiring series of speakers sharing their insights on applying for and securing European funding. By sharing their success stories, identifying obstacles, and providing valuable tips, attendees were inspired and motivated. The audience comprised of over 50 participants from our four universities, researchers from the Netherlands and abroad, municipalities, provinces, and businesses.

Rob Peters (Province of Utrecht, HU)
Okke Scholtens (RVO)
Muriël Pels (Utrecht Municipality)
Rens van de Schoot (UU)

One of the highlights of the morning was the presentation by Rens van de Schoot (UU) on The IMPROVE consortium, consisting of 26 interdisciplinary partners. In 2021, Van de Schoot and his team members: Chris Knighting (TU/e), Bedir Tekinerdogan (WUR), and Daniel Oberski (UMC Utrecht), along with team members from outside the alliance, received a grant of €40,000 of the EWUU alliance, aimed at providing AI-supported tools in healthcare and writing a grant proposal for the Horizon Europe funding program. This project secured a grant of €18 million from the European Horizon program in 2023. It was a splendid example of how EWUU seed funding impacts the realisation of groundbreaking projects.

Following this inspiring start, the group split into four matchmaking tables, each dedicated to a specific topic:

  • Digital Twins and Data Spaces
  • Healthy Society
  • Digital Skills, Education, and Training
  • AI, Human-Centered, and Ethical Development

Lively discussions and idea exchanges took place at each table regarding the future of these topics within European applications.

Members of i4CS brought forth a circular perspective within each discussion, focusing on integrating circularity into digital tools. Questions arose such as: How can circularity be fairly integrated into AI and Decision Support Systems? And what are the implications here?

Simultaneously, members of the AI group, with their expertise, provided a transdisciplinary perspective on AI. They focused on bringing together the right partners and ensuring successful collaborations.

We’d like to also give a special mention to the EWUU alliance’s institute 4 Preventive Health who played a supportive the “Healthy Society” table discussion, with their view on preventive measures for a healthy life. This joint effort exemplifies the spirit of collaboration within the alliance, making the event a true collective endeavour.

All attendees were requested to complete a contact card, ensuring seamless follow-ups by the organisation of the EFNU event for each table discussion in the weeks ahead.

This EFNU event was a prime opportunity for participants to expand their networks, collaborate, and collectively strive for innovation and progress. The atmosphere of collaboration and enthusiasm fostered an extremely productive day, laying the groundwork for future partnerships and projects that will enrich a circular digital society.

A big thank you- goes out to the Province of Utrecht and the Utrecht Municipality for organising this wonderful EFNU event together. We will soon be organising another session, this time focusing on Citizen Science. Those interested can reach out to Kirsten Hollaender (i4CS) or Laurence Frank (AI) for further information, or follow our LinkedIn page for the latest updates.