Three WUR projects receive green light through Open Technology Programme

March 26, 2024

Three research projects applied for by Wageningen University & Research can commence with funding through the NWO's Open Technology Programme. Projects including those for improving resistance in lilies and alternatives for infant nutrition have been allocated funds within the programme.

The Open Technology Programme provides funding for application-oriented technical-scientific research that is free and unrestricted and is not hindered by disciplinary boundaries. The programme offers companies and other organisations an accessible way to participate in scientific research that is intended to lead to societal and/or scientific impact.

Seven application-oriented research projects can start with funding through the Open Technology Programme from the NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences. NWO is contributing over 5.3 million euros to these application-oriented technical-scientific projects. Industry and other organisations will add over 700 thousand euros more.

The three awarded research projects from Wageningen University & Research are:

Alternatives for infant formulas

Functionality of milk fat globule membrane ingredients and their plant-based alternatives - dr. Marie Hennebelle, Wageningen University & Research

The different composition of infant formula compared to human milk can impact its digestibility. Milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) is a promising ingredient for infant formulas, while plant lecithins are commonly used to stabilise emulsions. However, the high compositional variability in these ingredients can impact their functionalities. In this project, we will characterise the extent of processing-induced variation of MFGM and lecithin composition and its potential impact on their functionalities. The project will focus on the stability and the digestion rate of emulsions to develop promising dairy and plant-based alternatives for infant formulas.

‘Fire blight’

Effector-based screening of lily for resistance to Botrytis elliptica (Fire blight) - dr. Jan van Kan, Wageningen University & Research

Lily cultivation currently suffers from crop loss by fire blight, a disease caused by the fungus Botrytis elliptica. Intensive application of pesticides is required to reduce the loss of flowers and bulbs. Breeding for resistance can be accelerated and become more effective by using proteins or peptides (“effectors”) of the fungus to predict whether a lily plant will be susceptible or resistant to fire blight. The use of effectors enables breeders to select resistant plants that should be retained in the breeding programme, whereas susceptible plants can be eliminated from the breeding programme.

NeurO2ChipH screening tool

On-chip technology for spatiotemporal analysis of neuronal metabolofunction (NeurO2ChipH) - dr. Werner Koopman, Wageningen University & Research. Co-applicants: University of Twente, Radboud University

To function properly, neuronal brain cells are organized in complex interacting networks. These networks rely on an optimal coupling between electrical activity/connectivity and metabolic/redox state in space and time. A lack of appropriate in vitro experimental tools prevents in-depth understanding of this metabolo-functional coupling, which hampers the rational development of interventions in brain diseases. Here, we will develop a novel on-chip technology for integrated analysis of neuronal network metabolofunction in space and time (“NeurO2ChipH”). Such technology will crucially impact on basic science and deliver a novel intervention screening tool with the potential to reduce the number of animal studies.