ASTRON has a long-standing record and an ongoing broad program for collaboration with commercial partners. This program has a strong focus on small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and covers a wide range of technologies being developed at ASTRON.
Our mission is to develop cutting-edge technologies that allow radio astronomers to advance our understanding of the universe. Radio astronomy has spawned innovations such as essential elements of Wi-Fi, advanced RF technologies for wireless applications and medical imaging (MRI). Today’s innovations including big data solutions, photonics and new radio technologies for sensitive observations of space situational awareness and space weather.
We actively pursue partnerships and alliances with national and international businesses that are based on sharing of know-how, sharing of technology base and/or sharing of our facilities. Such partnerships seek to maximise the impact to Dutch society and the economy.
- Sharing know-how
Collaboration with ASTRON can happen at a range of levels depending on the mutual goals, interests and degree of cooperation deemed appropriate. The exchange of know-how is at the core all such alliances.
ASTRON operates in a broad network of high-tech companies and institutes, and is (leading) partner in innovative consortia, both regional and at national level. These include the Innovation Cluster Drachten (ICD), the Collaboration for Big Data in Radio Astronomy (COBRA) and Holland High-Tech. But ASTRON also works with industrial partners in bilateral collaborations, through joint R&D projects, concept studies, contract research and brainstorm sessions.
We share our RF knowledge in a by now famous RF Course offered through our AstroTec Holding (ATH), we share our expertise in high-speed digital systems through design reviews, we share our experience with the analysis of large streaming data flow through joint research projects.
Contact us, if you want to share in our know-how in many technology domains! We do not promise to solve all your technical problems. Our natural curiosity will guarantee our interest, though. And even if your particular question is outside our expertise area, we can often bring you in touch with one of our public and private technology partners.
- Sharing technology
Technology developed by ASTRON often lays the basis for innovation in daily life. We welcome collaborations that bring our high-tech systems, algorithms and IP to commercial products and services. We also welcome innovators seeking early adopters of challenging new technologies like photonics and hybrid computing. Often the demanding requirements of our telescopes make them an excellent demonstration platform. And our highly skilled technical researchers and engineers are eager to engage in making technology work.
We engage in such activities at many levels, from direct business with companies and institutes, to partnering in public-private collaborations and executing European H2020 programs. Furthermore, ASTRON is proactive in coaching undertaking employees to start up high tech-spin offs, as well as supporting high-tech start-ups with know-how.
In designing and building world-class telescopes, ASTRON collaborates with a large range of enterprises, from large international enterprises to small high-tech SMEs. SMEs played an important role during the development, roll-out and maintenance of both the LOFAR sensor network and the upgraded dish-telescope in Westerbork. This continues up to today, where a number of SME continue to benefit from production orders for LOFAR antennas, electronics equipment and software development. These partnerships will also continue towards the Netherlands’ involvement with the international SKA telescope (link to SKA page), ASTRON is home to the Netherlands’ SKA office and has a role to inform Netherlands industry so that companies are ready for the technological and business opportunities related to this exciting, international program.
AstroTec Holding B.V. (ATH) facilitates the transfer of innovative ASTRON technology to the market place, in collaboration with regional partners and other major industrial players. ATH participates in four new start-ups as joint ventures, and among other commercial activities, contributes in establishing the region as centre for networked sensor technologies.
- Sharing facilities
Excellent technical infrastructure is key to the success of ASTRON. We take pride in an extensive suite of state-of-the-art test & measurement equipment. Our R&D facilities include a mechanics workshop, an anechoic chamber for antenna testing, EMC facilities, analogue and digital electronics labs, a photonics laboratory, equipment for environmental testing, experimental HPC computing platforms and a clean room. These can be made available to business partners, in particular SMEs, on a commercial basis or through joint development projects. Being a developer of instruments itself, ASTRON can provide advice during the whole chain of product development. The multidisciplinary nature of the technical fields of competence is of great benefit for product development.
Our National Facility telescopes, WSRT and LOFAR, also offer additional value for societal and industrial applications beyond radio astronomy. LOFAR has demonstrated amazing potential for applications in the domain of “Space Situational Awareness” (SSA). In particular monitoring of Space Weather is gaining relevance and importance for humankind. Whilst the Netherlands had not historically had a major role in this domain, ASTRON and KNMI are now unlocking the unique potential of LOFAR. In SWENED, Netherlands institutes and Industry come together to further investigate and develop the services and applications for Spaceweather related topics.
Both the WSRT and LOFAR are used in support of the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), particularly to guide performance measurements for the European Galileo system. ASTRON has completed a number of development and demonstration projects together with industry, including ensuring the integrity of the Galileo system for critical Safety of Life services. This has paved the way for the WSRT to be used towards the recently established Galileo Reference Centre (GRC).