Letter from the director

A changed world but an organization undeterred

Dear reader,   It is with great pleasure that we share our 2020 annual report. A year for the history books, no doubt, and also one that demanded flexibility from us all. In the year that I joined the Netherlands eScience Center, I’m proud to say that our team here remained nimble, and strong. Despite global setbacks, we forged ahead with our mission, collaborating with our many partners to advance academic research through digital technologies.

An important milestone for us this year was the completion of our organizational strategy for the coming years 2021-2025; the result of a comprehensive internal and externally-facing process. With this strategy now in hand, we are entering a new, exciting, and challenging phase for the Netherlands eScience Center. As we enter this next phase of our life, we’re setting out with new strategic ambitions, while building an international organization of excellence to reach them.

Similarly significant for us in this period was our new, six-year collaboration with our parent organizations NWO and SURF. These key partnerships allow us to continue championing digital technologies across the Netherlands through our digital expertise. Further, they allow us to push the boundaries of academic research even further as we collaboratively design sustainable software.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Center to operate virtually, the eScience Center launched a number of calls and research projects undeterred. We started collaborations with NWO, ZonMW, the Heart Foundation, and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport on a series of Big Data and Health projects awarded in late 2019.

We also kicked off three large projects resulting from the 2019 eTEC-BIG Call on Innovative eScience Technologies for ‘Big Science,’ which we carried out together with SURF.

Critically, the eScience Center awarded a number of small-scale eScience initiatives specifically targeted at urgent research questions related to COVID-19. And finally, we are particularly proud to note that the Research Software Directory was completed as a proof of concept. In 2020, the eScience Center began to focus more on community; organizing workshops, sharing knowledge through online channels, and building mutually beneficial relationships with groups for whom our Center plays an important role. We delivered workshops on digital skills, research software, reproducible research, and machine learning, while an international gathering of eScience Center organizations took place under the umbrella of PLAN-E. These initiatives have all proved so successful and worthwhile that the eScience Center will invest in these and other outreach activities on a much larger scale in the future.

Personally, I’d like to thank my tireless team for their work in this last year. And you, dear reader, for your continued support and interest in our organization. As we collectively transition to a new normal, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be leading our team into our evolution as well.

Joris van Eijnatten CEO Netherlands eScience Center