One year of Convergence

The first year of Convergence in 8 memorable steps.

Convergence is the collaboration between the techies of TU Delft, the medics of Erasmus MC and the sociologists and economists of EUR. Although it was planned for about for some time, the collaboration really started to take shape this year. Let’s see what happened in 1 year of Convergence.

1. The pre-convergence kick-off: the Impulse-event

The very first convergence research projects already emerged six months before 2021. At the beginning of the year, the postdocs who participate pitched their projects at the impulse event. A good example is Digital Twin. 23 researchers from TU Delft, Erasmus MC and EUR are working together on a data version of the patient. ‘We want to bring lifestyle data and data from the hospital together and make it accessible for doctors, researchers and patients,’ say the researchers.

2. Launch of the first Convergence Square

On May 20, 2021, the first Convergence Square was officially opened in Erasmus MC. Within two weeks, a left corridor in the Ba building was transformed into a meeting place, workspace, event space and coffee corner. Something for everyone! Ed Brinksma, chairman of the Board of Governors of the EUR, explained why a physical space is so important: “Real ideas arise at the coffee machine”

Particle accelerator
Richard Goossens is professor of physical ergonomics at TU Delft. He stood at the root of the Convergence Squares and describes the  space as a particle accelerator: ‘I want disciplines to collide. We can do a lot through Teams, but good ideas arise from coincidences. To encourage those coincidences to happen, we need to bring people together.’

3. Launch of the Pandemics and Disasters Preparedness Center

It wasn’t quiet for long at Convergenc Square. Exactly one day after its opening, the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center was launched there. An initiative of Marion Koopmans: ‘Let’s take the lessons we learn now: how do you prevent this in the future?’ The municipality also joined in, Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb announced: “We really must work together on this”

At the center, scientists will explore how we can better prepare for pandemics, as well as disasters. Floods and extreme weather will become more common due to climate change. Especially in the parts of the Netherlands that are below sea level, this does not help. TU Delft, specifically hydraulic engineering, has therefore joined the center.

From the EUR, sociologists will look at how we can make our society more resilient and how we can overcome social differences after a disaster or pandemic.

4. Work visit Hugo de Jonge

‘From preventing pandemics to the ICU of the future and a healthy start for everyone,’ tweeted outgoing Health Minister Hugo de Jonge on July 7. His visited Erasmus MC specifically for Convergence.

5. Open Mind Call for Health & Technology

This summer the very first real convergence call was published. The Open Mind project, specifically aimed at creating a community for young researchers, had to meet an important condition: at least two, but preferably three of the institutes had to be involved in the research team.

‘It’s really starting to get sparkly now’, said Goossens. ‘There are now 22 projects running, from contactless monitoring of newborns to a lightweight exoskeleton for people who can no longer walk’

6. First residents at the Square

7% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands are generated by healthcare. So in September, three TU Delft masters students set to work on the new Green Intensive Care Room on the Convergence Square at Erasmus MC. And their mission? To find ways to reduce the impact of healthcare on the environment. IC apothecary Nicole Hunfeld is supervising the students.

7. Kick-off Healthy start

On June 15, the kick-off of Healthy Start took place. The best start for the new generations, that is the mission of this new Convergence initiative. Within Healthy Start, scientists work together with youth workers and social partners. ‘Every child deserves the best possible start’, says Erasmus MC professor of pediatrics Vincent Jaddoe.

8. The Call for Flagship Programs

This fall, a large call for Flagship Programs was launched within the Convergence of Health & Technology Health community. Scientists could file a pre-proposal to be reviewed by the theme leads of the Health & Technology themes. While the official deadline for the Flagship programs is in March 2022, the pre-proposals already gathered a total of 578 researchers among over 40 projects. Over 80% of the submitted pre-proposals included all three institutions (EMC, TUD & EUR). The Convergence team is very excited to see what they will bring in 2022!