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Business day gets Dutch industry excited about Einstein Telescope

The first business day of the Dutch valorisation programme ‘Einstein Telescope for business’ took place on 1 July 2024 at the Maastricht venue MECC. There, entrepreneurs, technicians, researchers and policymakers spoke about the opportunities the Einstein Telescope offers innovative companies.

The Einstein Telescope is Europe’s future detector for gravitational waves and will demand the utmost from technology. For instance, this instrument needs to hear as many as 100 gravitational waves a day; existing observatories took 10 years to do so. “A challenge for scientists and for companies,” hear the hundred participants at the company day. After all, measuring so quietly and sensitively is not yet possible. It is up to high-tech companies to make the impossible possible.

Podiuminterview met een virtuele Albert Einstein, de bedenker van zwaartekrachtsgolven.
Anna Gimbrère interviews a virtual Albert Einstein, the inventor of gravitational waves.


Whoever manages to develop the technology needed for the Einstein Telescope will have pioneering technology on their hands. In this way, science is good for business and for society. With support from the Dutch National Growth Fund, the Limburg development company LIOF is therefore organising the valorisation programme Einstein Telescope for business. In addition to technical workshops, this includes five rounds of grants to prepare companies to develop key technology for the Einstein Telescope.

Day chairman and science journalist Anna Gimbrère presents a diverse programme for the participants. These will get a crash course in gravity waves from Gideon Koekoek (Maastricht University and Nikhef), as well as a look behind the scenes of the first R&D project on vibration-free cooling technology, by Demcon Kryoz, Cooll and the University of Twente. An information market will provide more information on the new grant rounds opening this autumn.

Stand met live experimenten over trillingsdemping van het Nederlandse onderzoeksinstituut Nikhef.
Stand with live experiments on vibration damping from the Dutch research institute Nikhef.

Unexpected applications

What do companies gain from contributing to the Einstein Telescope? Pieter Lerou of Demcon Kryoz is clear about it: developing a prototype does not yield much in itself, but forces you to develop technology that is better than anything already on the market. That can then have all kinds of commercial applications, from ultra-stable lasers to vibration-free cooling techniques. Big Science drives innovation, also says chairman of the day Anna Gimbrère. For example, technology for the European particle lab CERN in Geneva has spawned spin-offs in medical applications, touch screens, big data technology and, of course, the world wide web.

R&D facility for 50 years of innovation

Companies that want to develop technology for the Einstein Telescope do not have to wait for the observatory’s construction phase, Professor Stefan Hild (Maastricht University and Nikhef) explained during his lecture. He runs the R&D facility ETpathfinder, about a hundred metres from the lecture hall. Here, all kinds of technology for the Einstein Telescope is tested in an integrated setup, to show that the equipment works as part of a realistic, complete measurement system.

ETpathfinder and the Einstein Telescope already demand top-notch technology, and Hild expects that demand to continue for the next 50 years. “Every five to 10 years, we will further improve the Einstein Telescope to make ever sharper observations. All those technological upgrades we want to prepare and test out in the ETpathfinder. That means constant opportunities for companies!”


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