Maastricht University and RWTH Aachen University formalise biobased materials collaboration
On Monday 18 January, RWTH Aachen University and Maastricht University signed a contract to formalise
their structural collaboration in the Aachen Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials on the Brightlands
Chemelot Campus. The research carried out by UM and RWTH focuses on biobased materials in AMIBM. This joint
investment will receive financial support from the province under the Kennis-As (knowledge axis).
The new AMIBM building on Chemelot Campus will be completed later this year.
Manfred Nettekoven, Chancellor of RWTH; Twan Beurskens, Deputy of Economics and Knowledge Infrastructure
for the Province of Limburg; Martin Paul, Chair of the UM Executive Board; Stefan Jockenhövel, Academic Director
of AMIBM; Richard Ramakers, Managing Director of AMIBM
AMIBM is a cross-border research institute within the Kennis-As Limburg, run by Maastricht University, RWTH
Aachen University and the German research institute Fraunhofer IME. It is made possible in part by a financial
contribution from the Province of Limburg and started in December on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen.
The AMIBM research programme focuses on the sustainable and efficient production of biobased materials and
their innovative contribution to medical and technological applications. All of the AMIBM professors are
affiliated with a broad scientific constituency at UM, the MUMC+, RWTH Aachen University and Fraunhofer.
AMIBM prioritises interdisciplinary collaboration 'From Plant to Implant'. In this way, AMIBM works on
complex and cross-disciplinary projects.
Several professors already held positions within AMIBM. These include: Prof. Sanjay Rastogi (UM), Prof.
Stefaan de Wildeman (UM) and Prof. Stefan Jockenhövel (UM/RWTH). Professors Rainer Fischer (Fraunhofer IME,
molecular biology), Gunnar Seide (RWTH ITA, application and production of biobased fibres) and Richard Ramakers
managing director AMIBM) were recently added to the team.
AMIBM now has 25 stafmembers and will relocate to the newly renovated lab in Building 1 on the Brightlands
Chemelot Campus in October 2016. One of the first machines to be installed is a unique wet spinning facility,
which can be used to produce new biobased fibres for medical applications. The temporary locations in Maastricht,
Aachen, Sittard-Geleen and Bonn will be concentrated on Chemelot.
Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials
gets to work at Chemelot
The Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials
(AMIBM) is getting started at the Chemelot Campus. At an
on-campus meeting on Wednesday 6 November, the initiators,
Maastricht University (UM) and RWTH Aachen University,
presented the professors who will be joining the AMIBM project
team. It was also announced that the tender for the research
equipment had been published. The partnership with the
Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology
(Fraunhofer IME) in Aachen has also been developed further and
the future research programmes have been detailed in a
In December 2011, UM and RWTH Aachen University announced their plans to establish the
AMIBM. It will be the research hotspot on Chemelot Campus for
the production, acquisition, refinement and application of
high-quality natural materials with new or improved
properties, which will be extracted, processed and upgraded
from plants or bacteria for medical and technological
AMIBM project team
UM and RWTH Aachen University have appointed three so called
‘Drehkreuzprofessoren’ for AMIBM at Chemelot: Professor Rainer
Fischer (Molecular Biotechnology), Professor Stefan
Jockenhövel (Tissue Engineering & Textile Implants) and
Professor Sanjay Rastogi (Polymer Physics). Together with
their teams, they will be conducting unique research that adds
to the research already taking place in Maastricht and Aachen.
These professors can also bring companies at Chemelot into
contact with relevant research partners in Aachen or
Maastricht. This means that the campus provides direct access
to the enormous supply of research capacity and facilities
available at the two universities.
Unique research equipment
An installation will be built for the AMIBM research that can ‘spin’ biopolymers into fibres:
polymers are placed in solution but are not melted as per the
usual procedure, which often requires high temperatures that
can damage the biopolymers. The machine can make bicomponent
fibres, combining the properties of two materials into one
single fibre. The installation can also coat the produced
fibres to add new properties. The fibres are sprayed under
‘GMP conditions’ (General Medical Practice) to make them
suitable for clinical applications, such as implants. The
European tender for the purchase of this installation has
recently been published; once a supplier has been selected, it
will take about ten months before the machine is fully
The partnership with RWTH Aachen University is organised through a number of
its large institutes: the Institute of Textile Technology
(ITA) and the Fraunhofer IME. The expertise of Fraunhofer IME
is aimed at refining plants or bacteria that can produce
high-quality biomaterials. They will also contribute to UM’s
new Master of Science programme and will also play an active
role in building a strong link with Greenport Venlo.
AMIBM is one of the Kennis-As Limburg initiative projects.
The research infrastructure and collaboration with the business world tie graduates to the
region and create an attractive business climate for
companies. The biobased products and processes that AMIBM
develops will find applications in the medical, technical and
consumer sectors, and thereby have great societal value.
Finally, AMIBM will contribute to creating regional jobs: the
ambition is to offer 66 fte of direct employment for knowledge
workers in 2021.
This Chemelot Campus eLetter is
the press release that was issued today by Maastricht
Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased
Maastricht University and RWTH Aachen
University have established a European cross-border research
institute focusing on the development of advanced biobased
materials. The Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased
Materials (AMIBM) is located on the Chemelot Campus in the
Netherlands Province of Limburg, and strives for excellence in
applied and translational research by creating synergies
between academia and industry.
This exciting collaboration will benefit
both universities. Maastricht University will expand its
industry-connected research and education platforms in the
fields of natural sciences and technology, also contributing
to the international ambitions of Brainport 2020 and Limburg
economic development. RWTH Aachen University will expand its
network of collaborative research in the Netherlands, its
industrial network and its international educational program.
Both parties will gain access to reciprocal subsidy funds.
Establishing the AMIBM on the Chemelot
Campus will promote a paradigm change in biobased materials
research. The AMIBM mission is to replace traditional polymer
building blocks with innovative and sustainable alternatives
for the development of novel and environmentally-beneficial
materials. AMIBM will cooperate with the Maastricht Health
Campus for the development of novel medical applications.
There is further potential to connect AMIBM to Greenport/Venlo
and thus exploit additional expertise and infrastructure to
create a Limburg Knowledge Axis.
The AMIBM vision is to provide the missing
links between fundamental, applied and translational research
in the field of biobased materials, by changing the
relationship between the production of biobased materials and
the value chain. This will be achieved by developing an
integrated, interdisciplinary research program focusing on
novel strategies to produce advanced biobased materials and
chemical building blocks in a sustainable and economical
manner, and to develop these novel materials into innovative
products for technical and medical applications. The Chemelot
Campus will facilitate close collaboration with relevant
industry partners and will allow the formation of new
public-private networks with SMEs and future start-ups to
promote innovative translational research.
The university partners will pool their
individual strengths to develop plants as factories for the
production of advanced biobased building blocks and polymers,
to develop novel chemical processing methods using biobased
additives, to integrate materials synthesis and soft matter
nanoscience, and to develop bioactive clinical materials
including biodegradable scaffolds for applications in
regenerative medicine. These strengths will be integrated into
a translational research program that will promote and
accelerate the conversion of research into agricultural,
industrial and medical practice. The envisaged program will
involve interdisciplinary research in at least four key
sectors along the biobased materials value chain, each
producing a higher grade of complexity compared to the current
state of the art. The structure of the institute will enable
polytranslational research among the academic and industrial
partners, encouraging push-and-pull innovations in the areas
of biobased feedstock, materials and products.
This cooperation between the Maastricht and
Aachen Universities will also establish teams of young and
ambitious scientists who will work under the guidance of at
least three “Drehkreuz Professors” on the Chemelot Campus,
helping to connect industrial partners with both universities.
The researchers will have access to office space and
state-of-the-art R&D facilities on the Chemelot Campus, as
well as the research infrastructure at both universities, and
will thus be encouraged to develop innovative and successful
research programs with their industry partners.