Changing the world through research and innovation

Four people have been named as winners of the Amsterdam Impact Award 2019. Every year, this honour, which is handed out as part of the Amsterdam Science & Innovation Award ceremony, is bestowed to individuals who have made a positive impact on society through their research and innovations. Several of this year’s recipients are members of Amsterdam’s life sciences and health community, which includes more than 300 life sciences companies. 

Advancing healthcare on a global scale

Jaap Bonjer, a professor of surgery at Amsterdam UMC, is receiving the prize for establishing the Amsterdam Skills Center for Health Sciences. Through his work, Bonjer has made the Netherlands a world leader in surgical skills training, providing a place where doctors and students can learn and practice new procedures. The centre, which represents a collaboration between Amsterdam UMC and MedTech company Stryker, is also making a difference in developing countries by educating new physicians with the goal of alleviating severe shortages.

Two professors from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) – Erwin Peterman, professor of physics of living systems, and Gijs Wuite, professor of physics of life processes – are being recognised for developing powerful new medical equipment. Through their optical tweezers and fluorescence microscope, they can examine the tiniest details of cellular processes and improve research. Their work is shared with the world through LUMICKS, a biotech company specialising in high-tech measuring instruments that improve understanding of disease development and prevention.

Leading the fight against poverty

Roeland van Geuns, professor of poverty interventions at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), will receive the award for his work on issues related to poverty and debt. Motivated by a desire to improve the lives of those struggling from day to day, Van Geuns has studied different interventions for people living in poverty and has developed instruments to resolve problems related to debt, making a positive social impact. 

Helping feathered friends

Additionally, Willem Bouten of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) will receive a special mention for developing a lightweight GPS tracker for birds. This device predicts factors related to bird migration, which is valuable for wind farms and aviation professionals as it can help prevent collisions. Bouten’s work also represents an important contribution to the valorisation of ecological research, which is particularly challenging. 

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