Did you know that you can turn to Wageningen University & Research (WUR) to use research equipment? Through Shared Research Facilities, you gain access to research facilities and equipment, primarily for specific research. That means that not only WUR researchers can use these advanced research facilities; external parties including major companies, SMEs, and start-ups can too.
'Sometimes you need a particular device for your research that you don’t have yourself, either because it's too expensive to purchase or because you only need it very sporadically.' Petra Caessens, Shared Research Facilities manager, says she and her close colleagues Edda Neuteboom, Daniella Stijnen and Oscar Vos can help in finding specific research equipment. Caessens explains. 'We can even help people who don’t immediately know what they need for their research to find the right equipment or expertise.'
Cheaper than purchasing yourself
Caessens says that companies often have questions such as: Which device do you need? What are the costs? How does it work with contracts? Is my research data protected? Caessens and her colleagues have the answers to these questions, and to gain an idea of the possibilities she recommends visiting the Shared Research Facilities website. This describes a large number of devices, and the site provides access to an extensive database with all lab facilities/devices third parties are able to use.
As Neuteboom explains, 'for a fee, you can come and use one of our devices to carry out your own research with. If you lack the expertise, we can provide training on the device, or our operators can perform the measurements for you. In that case you pay for the rental, including the operator.'
Shared Research Facilities was founded in 2010 as CAT-AgroFood in order to purchase advanced devices and make them accessible to other organisations. These investments were possible partly thanks to a financial incentive from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the province of Gelderland. The equipment purchased with these funds is mostly advanced equipment in the field of imaging, mass spectrometry and sequencing.
As Caessens explains, 'from a financial viewpoint, investing in the latest technology is a challenge for all parties. For innovation, it is vital that the use – and therefore access to that equipment and corresponding expertise – is as widely available as possible.
That is why we make access to the latest research equipment as wide-ranging as possible. Alongside the financially attractive reasons for "sharing" equipment, an additional advantage is that new contacts arise, which can in turn lead to ideas for research and new opportunities for collaboration.'
Our seminars explore the possibilities
For external partners, it is of interest not only to know that WUR's research equipment is accessible, but also and more particularly what this equipment’s possibilities are; in other words, what can be done with it? As Neuteboom explains, 'We regularly hold seminars exploring our equipment’s possibilities, and there are often a whole host of these. With our 3D high speed cameras, you can not only study fruit flies’ flight movements, but also capture a cracker breaking. These cameras are now also used for technological food research. Around 70 people – including 40 external researchers from ten different companies – recently attended our seminar on our latest acquisition; a Lidar UAV. This drone's images proved interesting not only for landscape ecologists, but also for phytopathologists and agriculturalists.
Go to the website of the Shared Research Facilities for more information.