“Big Scienses” stands for scientific instrumentation for the Big Science projects. In the Northern Netherlands, the SRON and ASTRON knowledge institutes are the prominent players. They develop optical instruments for applications in astronomy. SRON for satellites and ASTRON for observation from earth, including the famous LOFAR-telescope. This may not be the physically largest HTSM sector but the impact is quite a different story. In terms of mechanics and optics, SRON is approaching the ASML level and thereby the limitations of the technological possibilities, while ASTRON may certainly be counted as one of the most important international innovators within informatics (including Big Data software) and the development of new electronics.
Institutes such as SRON and ASTRON are expected to play an ever increasing role in the future of the manufacturing industry. Smaller regional companies become involved in the execution of projects (for example for the SKA-telescope which is under development), though even more interesting is the technology being developed, which will eventually find its way to the ‘everyday’ manufacturing industry. Within the framework of the ‘Covenant of Groningen’, SRON has reached agreement on the use of its interesting Terahertz technology by large regional companies. A fantastic example with which to illustrate the potential is the DOME project (a cooperation between the University of Groningen, IBM and Astron) and the European Research Centre for Exascale Technology (ERCET) by the same partners. This may well allow the Northern Netherlands to develop into a true hotspot of Big Data applications, also in relation to the large data centers in the Eemshaven and the emerging community of online companies in Groningen.
Theme driver of the HTSM Northern Netherlands Task Force is Marco de Vos of Astron.