4TU Federation allocates 20 million to four ‘High Tech for a Sustainable Future’ programs

With the allocation of a total of 20 million euros to four capacity building programs within the theme ‘High Tech for a Sustainable Future’ (HTSF), gives 4TU.Federation for the second time a ‘solid impetus’ for research and education in technologies that contribute to a sustainable future.
In the awarded HTSF programs, researchers from the four technical universities work with personal health care (RECENTRE), reduction of heat in cities (HERITAGE), development of green, biodegradable sensors (Green sensors) and a future-proof food system (High quality food) . The technology and data-driven agri-food system of the future).

In December 2021, the four universities of technology invited their researchers to submit proposals for joint educations within the overall theme ‘High Tech for a Sustainable Future’. By gathering complementary knowledge, the TUs are committed to innovation in research and education in order to achieve maximum results together. Six proposals were submitted; four of these now receive a total of 20 million. EUR in funding over the five-year period.


The four degree programs run for five years, but they also look further afield. An important purpose of the programs is to hire new permanent scientific staff in the form of Tenure Trackers, who both research and educate. This not only ensures the continuity of the research lines, but also ensures the connection between research and education. A total of 19 Tenure Trackers will be nominated. When creating permanent scientific positions, the collaboration will also be continued after the end of the education. In order to ensure that the research results actually lead to innovations for the benefit of society, explicit collaboration is also sought with external partners.

Green sensors – the basics of green and biodegradable environmentally friendly soil sensor systems for the smart agriculture of the future

To make their production sustainable, farmers and gardeners will increasingly use sensing, sensor networks and IoT technology† This includes measuring and regulating the water and nutrient content of the soil or accurately planning a harvest. Forms an important key in the solution green sensors or sensors that are biodegradable. When used on a large scale, current sensors leave electronic waste in the wild.

The HTSF program ‘Green Sensors’ focuses on this new generation of sensors, which should become a well-functioning and affordable alternative to the current sensors. The team’s interdisciplinary approach contributes to achieving valuable results. Host Eldert van Henten and co-applicant Congcong Sun (WUR) explain this as follows: To realize real breakthroughs, you need a new approach. You can not deliver them as a single university. In our team we managed to gather the most talented scientists, from experts in BioNanoTechnology, and Control technology to experts on Sensor design, wireless communication systems and Farm Technology† For us, the start has already succeeded! ‘

HERITAGE – Warm Robustness in relation to aging cities

In the ARV program, the researchers work with high-tech systems with which the heat in built-up areas can be determined and predicted accurately, in order to subsequently limit the residents’ perception of heat. With existing measurement networks, but also with satellite images and aircraft equipped with sensors, temperatures, solar radiation, buildings and urban heritage are measured, among other things. We are looking at how the heat in the city can be reduced and how existing neighborhoods can be better organized.

In addition to the use of technology, the involvement of residents is an important factor in making an impact. Host Wim Timmermans (UT) on this: ‘By giving people the right information and involving them more, you can encourage them to take steps themselves to reduce the heat in their city. For example, by adjusting the heating or air conditioner or by laying fewer tiles in their garden. We are primarily a technical program, but if we can achieve such ownership for the citizens as a side effect, I am very proud! ‘

Next-generation food system – The high-tech and data-driven agricultural food system of the future

In the program ‘The high-tech & data-driven agri-food system of the future’, 4TU researchers work with the ‘food system of the future’, where the consumer’s wishes are translated into what is locally available in the greenhouse in terms of fruit and vegetables. The program ‘connection pin’ is one next generation database platform where the consumer has control over his own data. In addition to nutritional data, health data is also collected and linked there. The generated results and insights help the consumer to make the right food choices, which are then directly translated into autonomously controlled production processes in the greenhouse.

The program responds to current concerns about food and material shortages. Miranda Meuwissen (WUR), the host, says: ‘As scientists, we were looking for a way to produce sustainably, yet robustly and varied. This is how the idea of ​​a local greenhouse was born, linked to local desires. It would be wonderful if every city in the future could produce exactly the food that is desirable and necessary, so that we are less vulnerable to phenomena such as drought, war or a pandemic. ‘

RECENTRE – Risk-based lifestyle change: daily monitoring and recommendations

In the RECENTRE program, researchers are developing advanced sensor technologies that can monitor the patient’s health at home. By using eHealth, complaints like cancer initiation and obesity can be detected at an early stage, allowing for faster treatment, resulting in better outcomes. This ensures a higher quality of life, less burden of primary care and lower medical costs.

The patient is central in the design of the technologies. dr. Annemieke Witteveen (UT), program manager on this topic: ‘The RECENTRE consortium is very diverse with partners ranging from patient representatives and hospitals to an insurance company. By involving the voices of these parties, we can ensure that eHealth technologies match the demand from practice as closely as possible and that patients actually start using the systems. ‘

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