East Netherlands


Launching Pad Over the Border

German institutes find their way to the Netherlands

Some impressive German names have started appearing in Twente recently. Names such as Fraunhofer and Max Planck. For anyone familiar with top global research institutes, these two names are very familiar.

“The Fraunhofer Institute and Max Planck Institute are world-class and are a deserved recognition for the work we are doing,” says UT Executive Chairman Victor van der Chijs. “In addition, these famous names have the potential to attract even more top talent to our region,” he adds. “The arrival of the Max Planck Center and the Project Center Fraunhofer strengthen the position of the UT as a knowledge hub in the Netherlands as well as in Germany.”

Max Planck Center

The first Max Planck Center in the Netherlands, supported by the Netherlands Institute for Scientific Research (Dutch abbreviation: NWO) and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM), will be performing research in complex patterns in fluid dynamics. All the way from nano-drops to large-scale turbulence and everything inbetween. “Together we have a very powerful infrastructure for experiments,” says UT professor Dethlef Lohse, “We can perform fully developed turbulence research in the Twente Taylor-Couette facility in Twente and the ‘U-boat’ in Göttingen. Our German colleagues have at their disposal a high-pressure wind tunnel and we have our ultra-fast camera, the Brandaris.”

In the area of micro- and nanofluidics the MESA+ Institute has a sterling reputation. This augments the expertise in Mainz and Göttingen (Germany), where the Fraunhofer and Max Planck Institutes are respectively based, where they do work in biological processes on a very small scale. An example of this is the so-called ‘organ-on-a-chip’, which is a silicon chip with living cells that replicate the functions of an organ.


The Fraunhofer Project Center for Design and Production Engineering for Complex High Tech focusses primarily on specific industry-driven needs and internationally collaborative projects. This will be executed, in part, by young engineers, under the mentoring wing of experienced researchers, from the University of Twente as well as the University of Applied Sciences Saxion. Through accumulated expertise and a link established with both Dutch institutes of higher education and research, interesting portfolios of successful research can for a solid foundation for a career in either business or further research.

“The Dutch government is keenly aware that the drivers for economic growth come from industry, through investments and employment opportunities,” says Prof. Fred van Houten, of the Design Engineering faculty. He continues, “Even though the services sector is also important to the economy, the stable underpinning of the economy belongs clearly to industry.” He continues, “We continue to work diligently to develop the Twente region as a top region for technology, and are convinced that the collaboration offered by the German institutes is not only desirable, but necessary. In this respect,” van Houten concludes, “Germany is our most important international partner.”

Max Planck Society

The Max Planck Society is comprised of 83 separate institutes that are engaged in high-value fundamental research in natural sciences and humanities. Established in 1948, the organization has produced to date a total of 18 Nobel prize winners. There are Max Planck centers located in such reputable institutes such as the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).



The Fraunhofer Institute is Europe’s largest non-profit organization for applied research. There are a total of 66 research institutes in Germany and 7 located internationally. The various institutes belonging to Fraunhofer are primarily engaged in finding technological applications in industry for fundamental scientific research.