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Key points from the SURF Members' Council of 13 December

At the Members' Council on 13 December, discussions included the reappointments of the Executive Board (BoD), two supervisory directors and the (vice) chairman of the Members' Council, the amendment of the articles of association regarding the allocation of seats of the Members' Council, the 2024 annual plan plus associated budget, the open science innovation zone and developments in public values.

Distribution of seats in Council of Members

In the Council of Members of 11 October last, it was decided to amend the articles of association with regard to the distribution of seats. The Council of Members agreed to the amendment of the articles of association as elaborated by the Executive Board. In concrete terms, this means that the number of seats for the MBO department was changed from a maximum of three to a maximum of five.

Reappointments Executive Board, Council of Members and Supervisory Board

The Council of Members approved the reappointments of:

  • Jet de Ranitz, chairman BoD, with effect from 1 May 2024, for a period of four years;
  • Hans Louwhoff, COO SURF, with effect from 1 July 2024, until 1 March 2027 (retirement);
  • Ron Augustus, CINO SURF, from 1 September 2024, for a period of four years.
  • Jan Lintsen, chairman Council of Members, from 13 December 2023, for a period of four years;
  • Inge Grimm, vice-president Council of Members, from 13 December 2023, for a period of four years.
  • Harry van Dorenmalen, chairman Supervisory Board, with effect from 1 February 2024, for a period of four years;
  • Saskia Vlaar, chairman RBIC, with effect from 1 April 2024, for a period of four years.

Annual plan and budget 2024

After extensive deliberation, the Council of Members approved the 2024 annual plan and associated budget. In particular, the budget and the financial possibilities or limitations towards the future were discussed, given the shared ambitions expressed. This conversation will be continued in April 2024. Ahead of that conversation, a committee will be formed from board members to prepare future scenarios.

For 2024, SURF's budget (the result from operations) is apparently balanced. The pain point of the budget lies with the NWO grants: despite recently granted inflation correction, the funds are insufficient for the desired research facilities. This has been presented as an excess demand for subsidy in 2024 (EUR 2.5 million). NWO is unlikely to be able to honour this, which will lead to a deficit (and as such, a risk in the budget). SURF's Executive Board and NWO will discuss this together. Particularly for after 2024, it must be discussed how to deal with the tightness in available resources and which choices will have to be made. SURF's Executive Board and NWO's Executive Board will meet about this before Christmas.

The main spearheads in the annual plan are:

  • Meeting increasing member demand, partly as a result of Npuls, Open Science and security requirements;
  • Further developing services, led by the Portfolioboard including business cases and quality management;
  • The implementation of the Innovation Board, innovation zones for research and expansion of Futuring;
  • Managing the growth of SURF as a result of the above points.

Housing SURF

Given SURF's growth (mainly because of Npuls), expansion of (the already sometimes cramped) office space is necessary and highly desirable. For getting together and meeting each other, staff and members prefer the Utrecht location to Amsterdam. This coincides with a recent offer by the owner of Hoog Catharijne to lease additional square metres, adjacent to the current premises in Utrecht. Given the risk mitigation possibilities (e.g. leasing square metres in Amsterdam) and the financial contributions from Npuls, the Executive Board wants to proceed with extending the lease for the Utrecht location and initiate the corresponding expansion. The Members' Council agreed to this intention.

Elaboration of innovation zone 'Strengthening Open Science'

In 2021, the Council of Members approved the 2022-2027 strategy and thus nine SURF innovation zones. Recently, the zones for education were transferred to Npuls. The zone for security has been running for some time. The four innovation zones of research have been restructured into two innovation zones, namely 'Making optimal use of infrastructures' and 'Strengthening Open Science', with no topics lost; with an intersecting programme 'Building skills and capacity' in addition. The Members' Council discussed the elaboration of the 'Strengthen Open Science' innovation zone after which they agreed on the direction and frameworks of the three roadmaps that are part of this zone. Want to know more about the elaboration? Then read on below.

Elaboration innovation zone 'Strengthening Open Science

Over the past period, work has been done to flesh out the 'Strengthen Open Science' innovation zone. This elaboration describes the role of cooperative SURF within Open Science, specifically according to three main themes for which roadmaps are proposed, namely 1) Open Research Information, 2) Open Scholarly Communication, and 3) FAIR data. The three roadmaps are in line with the previously nationally set ambitions of the NPOS Ambition Document and its Rolling Agenda. A connection is also explicitly sought with the work programme of the Regieorgaan Open Science NL, established at NWO, and the Open Science agendas of the knowledge institutions, their libraries and their sector associations. SURF also links up with European and global developments through its role in organisations such as EOSC, GEANT, EGI, EUdat, OpenAIRE, eIRG and RDA.

Especially in creating preconditions of Open Science in terms of knowledge and infrastructure, SURF can make a difference in making Open Science the norm. As the landscape is much in flux, the thoughts described in this innovation zone and three roadmaps have been submitted to key stakeholders such as the Regieorgaan Open Science NL, UNL, NFU and the VH. In the coming months, further coordination with these stakeholders will take place and the concrete plans and SURF's role in them will be further elaborated, closely involving the CSCs, libraries (UKB, SHB) and DCCs (both local and thematic and including DCC-po). To keep in touch with the now-started Regieorgaan Open Science NL, SURF would like to start the three roadmaps presented today from January 2024. The innovation zone will also be discussed with the Open Science Administrative Consultation. Administratively, the Open Science Administrative Consultation is the place where the substantive strategy is determined.

Findings possible innovation zone Public values

Last April, the Council of Members discussed the possible establishment of an innovation zone in the field of public values. From UNL, SURF was asked to do an exploration for this topic. In the Members' Council, the other departments expressed their willingness to think and work on this topic and it was proposed to set up a committee. This will be formed and will meet ahead of the next Council of Members (April 2024). This Council of Members will be asked to decide on the formal establishment of this innovation zone.

Appointment of WTR member

The Council of Members approved the appointment of Ana-Lucia Varbanescu as a new member of the Scientific Technical Council (WTR). Ana-Lucia is Professor at the University of Twente and Associate Professor at the University of Amsterdam. Her research stems from HPC and investigates the use of heterogeneous architectures for high-performance computing, with a special focus on performance and energy efficiency modelling for both scientific and irregular, data-intensive applications. Her latest research focuses on zero-waste computing and co-design of systems.

Npuls

SURF is the penciller of Npuls. From this role, the Council of Members was informed that the subsidy decision for the first phase of Npuls had been received (from 1 July 2023 to 1 July 2025); this removed a risk in the budget. The addendum, belonging to the covenant signed by all participating parties, has been hard at work; it will be finalised before the end of the year.

For the substantive progress of the programme, please refer to the Npuls website.

Changes in the Council of Members

  • Gerard Nijsten has been deputy director of operations a.i. at KNAW since 10 October 2023; he participates in the Council of Members on behalf of KNAW.
  • Wilma de Koning-Martens is taking a seat on the Council of Members on behalf of Tilburg University.
  • Patrick Groothuis will take a seat on the Council of Members on behalf of Eindhoven University of Technology.
  • The vacancy in the hbo department will be filled by Anneke Luijten-Lub. She is a member of the Executive Board of Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences.
  • The vacancy within the MBO department will be filled by Dominique Majoor. She is a member of the Executive Board of Koning Willem I College.