NWO grants 47 million to curiosity-driven research

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Within the NWO Open Competition Domain Science – Groot program, 20 new consortia will start large research projects. All projects are concerned with curiosity-driven, non-programmed fundamental research. The total of 47 million euros granted will be used for, amongst others, higher-order topological nanodevices, neural networks, optimization for machine learning and measuring Higgs boson properties.

“Higher-order topological nanodevices”, led by Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE), focuses on new manifestations of topological matter. Apart from realizing a novel class of materials, the researchers will investigate whether Majorana quasiparticles and parafermions form on the interface between the higher-order topological material and a superconductor. Such quasiparticles can serve as building blocks for topological quantum computation. “Unraveling neural networks with structure-preserving computing”, also headed by TUE, aims to better understand neural networks to enable the design of highly efficient, tailor-made networks built on top of and interwoven with properties of the underlying science problems.

“Optimization for and with machine learning” (Optimal), led by Tilburg University, aims to provide new analyses and tools for optimization problems and algorithms arising in machine learning. The participants will test their insights on classification problems in the medical sciences, decision problems related to the UN World Food Program and routing of shared, self-driving cars.

NWO’s Open Competition Domain Science has three levels of funding: XS, Klein (small) and Groot (large). The Groot grants are intended for consortia in which research groups create added value through collaboration. For this first funding round, 92 pre-proposals were submitted, 30 of which were asked to elaborate and 20 proposals have now been selected.