SRON joins Innovatiecluster Drachten

Nieuws | 27 maart 2021

The high-tech knowledge institute SRON has been working with Innovatiecluster Drachten (ICD) from the beginning of 2020, but due to Covid-19, it was not possible to celebrate the start of their collaboration.

On Friday 26 March 2021, the collaboration was officially established, although for the most part online, but certainly not less festive! Binne Visser, Chairman Innovatiecluster Drachten and Jan Geralt Bij de Vaate, Manager Instrument Science Group SRON, were physically present at the signing of the collaboration agreement. Online speeches were given by Paul de Rook, Councillor of the city of Groningen, Robin Hartogh Heys van de Lier, Councillor of the municipality of Smallingerland and Michael Wise, General and Scientific Director of SRON. 

Röntgentelescoop Athena
Röntgentelescoop Athena

Scientific research into the Earth and the universe
SRON ‘Netherlands Institute for Space Research’ conducts scientific research in the areas of astrophysics, exoplanets, Earth observation and detection technology. In addition, the Institutes Organisation of NWO, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, develops instruments for space telescopes in these areas of research. For example, a new X-ray telescope will enable more accurate climate predictions in the future.

As a national expertise institute SRON advises the Dutch government and coordinates — from a scientific point of view — national contributions to international space missions. Scientists say it is special for them to have extensive contact with American colleagues at NASA.

Next generation technologie

Joost Krebbekx, Program Manager ICD welcomed the participants and gave the floor to  Michael Wise, who used to work at Astron, a company that is also a member of ICD. He expressed his gratitude for asking SRON to become an official member of Innovatiecluster Drachten. Through an interesting presentation he introduced the company and its main activities. “We don’t just build things; we also develop the next generation of technology.”

Looking beyond boundaries

“It feels strange to welcome someone who has actually been part of ‘the family’ for almost a year,” said Councillor of Drachten, Hartogh Heys van de Lier. “What I would like to emphasise to SRON as a new member, is that I am very pleased and proud that Innovatiecluster Drachten once started in the Drachten area. We as municipality and certainly the local business community have seen that none of us can do this independently. That is why we have to look beyond borders and seek collaboration.”  

Bij de Vaate continued: “Within Innovatiecluster SRON is able to conduct research projects together with local industrial companies, universities and colleges. Students have an important role to play in this, both as executive researchers and as future colleagues. The cluster helps in connecting teams, attracting partners, exchanging knowledge and providing research methods.

For example, SRON will have access to an advanced metal printer which can test designs that save weight. Innovatiecluster Drachten offers a platform where SRON as a high-tech user can innovate faster, has direct contact with the production industry and with students who are interested in this area.”

Solving social problems together

Councillor of Groningen, Paul de Rook said: “To be able to solve societal issues, collaboration is a prerequisite. This will become more and more relevant in the future. One innovation cluster is not enough. That is why I am very happy and grateful that the various innovation clusters in the Northern Netherlands are succeeding in connecting with each other. The celebration of this collaboration is a great example for that.”    

Toetrede SRON - Joost Visser tekent samenwerkingsovereenkomst

Mr Visser heartily welcomed SRON, which is the 23rd company to join Innovatiecluster Drachten. “Astron has a new brother,” Visser said, given the fact that these two companies already have a strong relationship. SRON is a highly innovative high-tech company and a great addition to our innovation cluster. It is a company that can compete with global leaders in fundamental research and what is happening in space.

The connection with the knowledge institutes fits well with the ICD philosophy. SRON offers work to students through research projects in which they can gain extensive knowledge. According to Visser this in turn positively influences and impacts the Northern ecosystem.


After these speeches, both parties signed the collaboration contract. The online participants congratulated SRON on behalf of their participating companies in the Innovatiecluster Drachten.