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NWO advocates permanent funding for national digital infrastructure

In a report entitled "Top science requires top infrastructure", the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) advises the new government to make an extra 27 million euro per year available for the Netherlands' national digital infrastructure. According to the NWO Committee who produced the report, this is essential if the country is to remain among the best in the world in this area and if it is to meet Dutch researchers' growing need for digital infrastructures.

The increasing digitization of science means that researchers have a growing need for digital infrastructures, such as advanced networks, supercomputers, research software and data facilities. Additional investments are also needed to meet the growing ambitions of the Dutch research community, as expressed in the Dutch National Research Agenda, the National Open Science Plan (OCW, 2017), The Digital Society (VSNU, 2016) and the National Roadmap (NWO, 2016). NWO's Board of Directors has adopted the Committee's advice, together with its recommendations, and has submitted these to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

According to the report, additional investments are needed in terms of networks, data facilities and cybersecurity to facilitate the massive growth in data and digitization. This is in line with the Netherlands' ambition to be a digital 'mainport' (hub). Additional investments in large computing facilities are also needed to keep pace with other leading knowledge economies in Europe. This will give researchers unprecedented opportunities to tackle major societal challenges. These issues include climate simulations in the context of global warming, research into specifications for new materials, and DNA analysis.

The Committee also considers that additional investments are needed to support the use of research software and Big Data. Researchers have an increasing need for specialist services and support of this kind. It also helps researchers to work in compliance with the principles of open science. This involves making scientific articles, research data, methods and software freely accessible to - and reusable for - researchers, companies and society at large.

Boosting investment in the country's digital infrastructure will enable Dutch researchers to keep up with the best data-intensive research in the world. It will also give the Netherlands an opportunity to play a leading part in the development of open science.

The advisory report on the national digital infrastructure for scientific research can be downloaded.