Strategy, business and operations at a glance
As the national eScience organization in the Netherlands, we believe that software innovation improves research outcomes. By continually evolving our strategy and the way we operate, we can provide our stakeholders with the best digital solutions to their research challenges.
- A big part of 2020 was devoted to developing and writing our new 5-year organizational strategy, and documenting it in two substantial plans: (1) a dissemination and community plan, and (2) a knowledge development plan
- In response to the global pandemic, we awarded a number of small-scale eScience nitiatives specifically targeted at urgent research questions related to COVID-19
- Our ASDI and eTEC calls and our much-anticipated National eScience Symposium were all delayed due to COVID-19, as was the outcome of the ESI-FAR joint call
- 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
- 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
- Our Research Software Directory was completed as a proof of concept
- Numerous workshops and trainings were conducted in an overall effort to place greater focus on community through workshop outreach and online knowledge sharing
- We participated in an international gathering of eScience Center organizations under the PLAN-E umbrella
- Our parent organizations NWO & SURF agreed to commit funding the eScience Center for another 6 years (2021-26), extending a vital source of income to support operations
- To support the new 5-year strategy, we also considered it prudent to look at the way we were structured, and to align in a way that best and most efficiently allows implementation of the new strategy. Outcomes from this restructuring process began on 1 June 2021.
- We welcomed a total of 14 new hires in 2020, including the appointment of Joris van Eijnatten and Monique van der Linden as CEO and Operations Director respectively
- 4 board meetings were held to develop the new strategy; 2 eSAC meetings were undertaken to gather input for our strategy, call procedure and job classification system, and with NWO and SURF for financial planning purposes
- We created a small team of Community Managers to further evolve past work engaging our audiences
Driven by purpose
At the eScience Center, our purpose is to build and support a robust research community, in which all investigators in all domains are able to exploit advanced digital technologies to answer curiosity-driven questions. We do this in two ways: collaboratively designing software for research, and building digital expertise. And in doing so, we aim to keep the Netherlands at the forefront of cutting-edge international research.
Our vision on eScience
As an organization passionate about the possibilities of academic research, our vision on eScience opportunities and technologies turns into worthwhile collaborations with research groups and research communities, solving real research problems by developing high-quality, sustainable software. In concrete terms, this means we focus more than previously on lead applicants as representatives of research communities, rather that working only with individual researchers. We ask for commitment from institutions with regard to sustainability, scanning the research landscape to better understand what researchers need, to get a grip on new technological opportunities, and focussing on the integration of software capabilities in local and supra-local research environments through knowledge transfer.
Guided by this purpose, it is our strategy to increase awareness of the opportunities digital methodologies and technologies afford, and increase the self-reliance of researchers.
We strive to deliver the highest quality software to solve the most complex research problems. We aim to grow the eScience Center responsibly and sustainably. And to this end, we have restructured to create a more robust organization that can accommodate growth while increasing the quality and sustainability of its output.
In terms of academic research, we see that digital capabilities are unequally divided over the research landscape. Overall, little attention is paid to software and the people who build it. Moving forward, we believe that more attention is needed for disciplines with a limited understanding of, or opportunities for, computer-assisted research. We also see that researchers need more training; and that RSEs need to be identified explicitly as researchers/methodological specialists. Finally, much more attention needs to be paid to hosting and maintaining quality software; the development of software skills should be integrated into teaching as well as research. These are the passions and this is the thinking that drives us today.