At Amsterdam Science Park, we believe knowledge has no borders. That’s why you’ll find cutting-edge institutes, top-class facilities and business incubators in one convenient location. You’ll meet motivated students, innovative researchers, talented scientists and adventurous entrepreneurs – all in an environment where it’s easy to work together. Cross-disciplinary initiatives and holistic thinking flourish. Ground-breaking research projects become successful spin-offs. That’s the strength of Amsterdam Science Park: connecting boundless minds.
Stan Bentvelsen is Director of Nikhef, the National Institute for Subatomic Physics, at Amsterdam Science Park.
“As Director of Nikhef, my role is to position our institute in the national and international research landscape. Are we doing the right things? It also means that I have to ensure that we are exploiting business opportunities.
“I studied physics at the University of Amsterdam and became a fellow and staff member of CERN in Geneva. After that, I returned to the Science Park – to Nikhef and to the University of Amsterdam."
At Nikhef, we study elementary particles and their interactions – the building blocks of our universe – through particle collisions in accelerators and through astroparticle physics. This is an especially exciting time for our research. We are deeply involved in the discovery of gravitational waves. This is a completely new research area with a long and bright future that is based on highly innovative technology. In addition, only a few years ago the Higgs boson was found, again with a major Nikhef involvement. Further new fundamental questions pop up and we have high expectations for more discoveries. There is so much that we do not understand – we are keen to make a next step.
“Our research pushes the boundaries of knowledge and we invent new technologies that can be used by start-up companies”
“We are a national institute with international recognition, combining a sizeable theoretical department with equally prominent experimental and technological departments. Besides accelerator physics at CERN, we are active in the search for dark matter and gravitational waves, and we are constructing a square-kilometre-sized detector deep in the sea to study the mysterious neutrino.
“Amsterdam Science Park is an excellent place for us to be – we enjoy good connections with the other institutes and organisations, including the University of Amsterdam, the eScience centre, AMOLF, and others. We exchange expertise and share engineering and technological challenges. Fellow scientists are near us to provide extra insight and perspective.
“Our research pushes the boundaries of knowledge and we develop cutting-edge technologies, some of which can be used by start-up companies. Our Nikhef spin-offs include Innoseis, which produces a clever network of small and robust instruments to measure seismic motion. Currently being tested by Shell, the technology is a spin-off from the instruments Nikhef developed to observe tiny movements in gravitational wave research. It has a lot of potential; for example, in the police service and defence applications.
“Another of our Nikhef spin-offs is Amsterdam Scientific Instruments which utilises techniques of particle detection in other, for example biological, systems. We also collaborate with companies on various projects – for example, on alignment techniques with chip technology specialist ASML. For Tata Steel IJmuiden, we are investigating the use of cosmic radiation to deduce the density profile within its huge ovens.
“Amsterdam Science Park is a great place to be – we enjoy good connections with the other institutes and organisations based here”
“Performing research at Nikhef requires independence and proactivity – qualities that transfer comfortably to start-ups. It is therefore no surprise that researchers make good entrepreneurs. Our research at the institute is curiosity-driven, as we are trying to find answers to big and fundamental questions. Discoveries in particle physics have huge implications for our understanding of nature. History shows that advancing knowledge always leads to advances in technology. I do not know when, but I am certain that technological applications of this knowledge will follow.
“I enjoy the concentration of intellectually inspiring people at Amsterdam Science Park. Teaching here is fun – the students are motivated and enthusiastic. It is important for us to have start-ups close to our research base and vice versa. We benefit from the concentration of knowledge, and that will only increase as Amsterdam Science Park grows.”