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Dutch genomics gets a boost

The Dutch government added new muscle to its promise of focusing the country’s research and development efforts on genomics as one of a small number of key areas. On November 28, it granted €€87 ($106) million to six projects involving industry related genomics research.

The money adds to €€195 ($238) million already set aside for the Netherlands Genomics Initiative (NGI), an organisation established to stimulate business by coordinating and funding `excellent’, `socially responsible’ and `truly innovative’ genomics research. According to NGI-director Peter Folstar, the new funds will indeed enable the Netherlands to become `leading’ worldwide.

Two of the awarded projects aim to develop technologies for bioinformatics and proteomics; four others involve collaborations between academic researchers and life sciences companies, whereby both parties have to go Dutch on the bill.

Other biotechnology projects, mostly dealing with health and food issues, collected similar amounts, with the Dutch Program for Tissue Engineering reaping the top €€25 ($30) million price. In all, life sciences nabbed 20% of the money invested by the Dutch government to become part of `the most competitive and dynamic knowledge economy in the world by 2010′, as projected by the European Union three years ago.

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