|In 2008 representatives from leading Dutch industry laboratories and analytical science and technology universities recognized three major concerns for future innovation and economic growth in The Netherlands: (1) a trend towards application driven and sector-specific analytical R&D at Dutch universities and a concurrent decline of highly innovative fundamental analytical research, (2) increasingly difficult recruitment, due to a lack of high-quality researchers and technicians at PhD, MSc and BSc (HBO) levels, and (3) the limited sharing of and access to rare, high-end analytical instrumentation. The sense of urgency for COmprehensive Analytical Science and Technology (COAST) was evident.
In the following, critical, step a group of ~60 industries, SME’s, institutes and university groups committed the initial funding for the development of the COAST Business Plan. This facilitated the formal established and registration of TI-COAST - as an independent foundation in December 2008. The COAST business plan was presented in September 2009 to the national co-ordination body for chemistry (‘RegieGroep Chemie’, RGC). Following the support by the RCG, the Ministry of economic affairs and the national science foundation NWO granted the TA-COAST R&D program. This was the first step in the realization of the COAST business plan.
The lean-and-mean organization structure of TI-COAST is exclusively funded by its participants, who contribute an annual membership fee. In doing so, they emphasize their strong commitment to the COAST mission.
Today, COAST is recognized as the analytical-science-and-technology partner and executes its integrated strategic agenda of R&D, education and infrastructure. This is illustrated by the following.
- In the national Sector Plan on Physics and Chemistry (SNS 2010), COAST is the designated co-ordinating body for analytical chemistry in The Netherlands.
- In the NWO Technology Area for Sustainable Chemistry (TASC) programme, COAST is the assigned Program Committee of the TASC R&D programme ‘TA-COAST’.
- COAST is co-founder of and partner in the national Analytical Science Talent Programme (ASTP) for top talent HBO students, co-ordinated by HAN (‘Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen’).
- COAST is co-founder of and partner in the national MSc+ programme for top talent MSc students in analytical sciences, co-ordinated by the UvA/VU.
- COAST is partner in the national post-graduate education programme on analytical sciences (ANAC).
- COAST is partner in the national uNMR-NL facility and assigned to co-ordinate industry access to this unique high-end NMR facility which will be established at Utrecht University during the coming years.
- COAST is partner in the national COMMIT programme aiming at handling and interpretation of massive analytical datasets.
COAST is ready for the future. Recently, the so-called ‘Top Sectors’ have been defined and established by the Ministry of EL&I. Obviously, analytical science and technology is of multi-sectoral national interest, but COAST has found a home in the Top Sector Chemistry, more specifically in the TKI New Chemical Innovations. From there, COAST will establish and maintain contacts with other relevant Top Sectors and TKI’s, such as AgroFood, Life Science&Health, Water, Energy, etc. COAST is specifically mentioned in the cross-cutting Roadmap ICT for the Top Sectors.