HFML-FELIX receives one-time grant from NWO, ‘structural solution in the works’

12 Jul 2023

The magnet and laser lab HFML-FELIX in Nijmegen has been saved for now. Research council NWO grants a one-time subsidy of 3.3 million euros. The financial support is meant for overdue maintenance and new equipment.

The science faculty’s dean Sijbrand de Jong is ‘beyond happy’ with the financial support from NWO. The research council grants the magnet and laser lab HFML-FELIX in Nijmegen a one-time subsidy of 3.3 million euros. This was announced today during a joint press release by Radboud University and NWO.

The money is meant for the costs the lab has to make this year due to overdue maintenance. ‘The maintenance and the availability of HFML-FELIX were reduced recently,’ says De Jong. ‘Now, we can make up for that lost ground.’

Quick response

At the start of this year, it was announced that HFML-FELIX was dealing with a shortage of millions of euros. Two long term contracts with the NWO had then recently ended and new negotiations did not result in anything. The financial insecurity resulted in a heightened workload amongst the staff. Member of the Dutch Parliament Lisa Westerveld had asked questions to Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf about the situation.

‘Both parties trust that we will resolve this’

Those problems are  of the past now, says De Jong. ‘The conversations between Radboud University and NWO regarding a solution to the finances accelerated rapidly. Both parties trust that we will resolve this. Otherwise, we would not have received this financial support.’


The research lab can now hire a large number of new employees thanks in part to the financial support of the NWO, but also thanks to the financial means of the beta-engineering and the faculty’s sector plan. This recruitment is currently in progress and should lead to more availability at the lab for external researchers.

Sijbrand de Jong. Photo: Erik van ’t Hullenaar

The recruitment of new employees should also reduce the high workload amongst the current staff. a project was already started earlier this year with the union FNV regarding this issue. ‘The situation has already largely improved,’ says De Jong. ‘We talked a lot with employees and we’re working with an external coaching business.’

The one-time NWO-subsidy will go to HFML-FELIX entirely and not to the Faculty of Science. The faculty has been helping with the shortages at the start of this year and is therefore dealing with a negative exploitation. ‘We’ll take the loss that we have to take,’ says De Jong. ‘It’s much more important that there’s a structural solution for HFML-FELIX, and that’s starting to work out well.’

National facility

The dean does not want to elaborate on how the structural cooperation between NWO and Radboud University should work and how much both parties will contribute in the future. ‘Those conversations are still in progress,’ he says.

Still, the solution will not be revealed for at least another few months. ‘If both parties contribute structurally, there will be consequences on a legal level,’ says De Jong. ‘That sort of thing has to be worked out carefully, which takes time.’

‘We would like other national users to contribute more to the lab in the future’

However, it is clear is that both NWO and the university acknowledge HFML-FELIX as a national facility, not just solely as a mere institution in Nijmegen. ‘We would like other national users to contribute more to the lab in the future. A solution with NWO shall facilitate this,’ says the dean.

Great that you are reading Vox! Do you want to stay up to date on all university news?

Thanks for adding the vox-app!

Leave a comment

Vox Magazine

Independent magazine of Radboud University

read the latest Vox online!

Vox Update

A direct, daily or weekly update with our articles in your mailbox!