Healthy Start – Getting Started!

At the beginning of this year, we presented our Healthy Start strategic plan to the Convergence Executive Board, based on the fruitful  year Healthy Start meeting of November lastin the Fruitvis in Rotterdam, many discussions with researchers and partners and successful lines of research within EUR, Erasmus MC and Tu Delft. And now, December 2022, we are really starting to set up 6 concrete ambition projects with Convergence PhDs and Fellows, a Healthy Start | Young Board, Health Start education and a Healthy Start support team.

The core of our strategy is our mission: a healthy and promising start for future generations. Our goal is to work on scientific and societal breakthroughs – focused on prevention and intervention – for strengthening the physical, mental and social health of youth, from conception to young adulthood. We want to achieve this goal through an innovative and convergent approach in which we combine medical, social and technical science, bridge the gap between science and knowledge from society and work towards concrete implementation in practice.

We focus on six concrete ambitions that are in line with the urgent issues in society and that bring together strong research lines from EUR, TU Delft and Erasmus MC:
1. Reducing health inequalities in the first 1000 days;
2. Care innovation for parent and child;
3. Stimulating movement for chronically ill children;
4. Improving the mental well-being of young people;
5. Tackling juvenile delinquency and addiction;
6. Increase involvement and participation of (unheard of) young people in society.

These ambitions are currently being further elaborated into 6 ambition projects. The foundations for these projects are laid out in six so-called ‘Sandpits‘. In such a Sandpit, a varied group of scientists and social partners specially invited for that ambition set to work on the approach routes from the current situation to the ambition (the desired situation). A core team then starts working on the project plan, with the appointment of two convergent bridging functions per project as an important part: the Healthy Start Fellow (coordinator and bridge between science and practice) and the Healthy Start PhD (bridge between the various disciplines).

In the meantime, 6 energetic and successful Sandpits have already been organized, 2 core teams have been formed and one Healthy Start PhD and one Fellow have started. Over the next 2 months, the remaining Sandpits will be organized, core teams will be formed and vacancies will be opened for Healthy Start PhDs and Fellows.

In addition to the specific ambitions, Healthy Start stands for a new way of doing science: in a team, together with various disciplines, in co-creation with practice and aimed at concrete social impact. We attach great value to the voice of young researchers, who are organized and represented in the Healthy Start Young Board. The goal of the Young Board is to build a community among young researchers and to develop innovative events in which disciplines can come together, the Healthy Start Young Events.

In the coming months, we will also be working hard on shaping education for and by Healthy Start for students, young researchers and professionals.

Do you see points of departure in our 6 ambitions? Do you have a promising project that fits within our mission? Are you interested in a new way of doing science? Do you have ideas about Healthy Start education? Do you want to be part of a diverse, enthusiastic and creative network? Then join Healthy Start!

Visit the Young Community Drinks on November 29, keep your agenda free for the Healthy Start | Ambition Day on March 9, 2023, contact the Healthy Start support team, the Young Board and/or ask a question via

Jennifer Kockx
Program manager Healthy Start