DTL grows into federated cross-sector technology platform

24 May 2013
The second meeting of the Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences (DTL) advisory group (‘Begeleidingsgroep’) was held on May 22 at SURF in Utrecht. The DTL Advisory Group consists of executive representatives of the DTL stakeholder field: universities, university medical centres, research institutes, industry, NWO and government. It was decided to formally start-up DTL as a nation-wide technology platform to enable next generation life science research in all major biology-related science fields and sectors, and to prepare it for a launch as public private partnership per January 2014. The first DTL board was installed to guide this process.
During the Advisory Group meeting, an outline of the DTL goals and federative set-up was discussed, including an approach for the formal DTL organization. A collection of short stakeholder views on DTL put the overall DTL picture in perspective of 1] sector needs, 2] developments in DTL-associated technology communities, 3] DTL programmes LSTECH (experimental technologies) and DISC (data technologies), as well as 4] national science funding and 5] connection to international programmes (e.g. ESFRI, IMI1).
DTL is designed as a collaborative platform of life science and technology research groups in the Dutch clinical & health, nutrition, crop and livestock breeding and industrial microbiology sectors.  DTL creates an environment that enables next generation life science research through its interlinked programmes in Experimental Life Science Technologies and Data Integration and Stewardship. Collectively the DTL parties address the major ‘big science & big data’ challenges in biology R&D that no single organisation can address alone.
At the first meeting in October 2012, the DTL Advisory Group advised to build in strong connections with major biology fields and related topsectors (medical; nutrition; crop&livestock breeding & industrial biotech). This has meanwhile been realised by the set-up of sector-related teams, who will be represented in the DTL management team. Dedicated integrator positions for the two programmes connect the sector needs with the capacities of the technology communities associated with DTL. Together, a federated platform is built, where frontier technology research, supported access to high-end expertise and infrastructures and a collective training programme are lead motifs.
The Advisory Group was very positive about the DTL scope and set up as collaborative platform. The DTL partnership aims to boost technology application, cross-technology data integration, as well as professional data stewardship in biology research. By sharing of expertise and infrastructures, participation in DTL should reduce overall costs, and prevent reinventing wheels.
The first interim board of the DTL foundation was presented during the meeting, consisting of prof. Karel Luyben (rector TU-Delft), Prof. Frank Miedema (dean UMCU), dr. Ernst van de Ende (director Plant Science Group Wageningen UR), and dr. Kees de Gooijer (director topsector TKI’s Agri&Food and Biobased Economy). The board will have the task to set up the formal DTL foundation and partnership. DTL will formally be launched per January 1st 2014.
One of the first activities of DTL will be to create a portfolio of available high-end technology expertise and infrastructures. To accomplish this, a call for DTL Technology Partners will be sent out soon. For more information, pleasecheck the DTL website.
1) ESFRI: European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures; IMI: Innovative Medicines Initiative