Catalysis is at the heart of chemical sciences because it is the art of selectively making and breaking chemical bonds. It is for this reason that it has been a major topic in various fundamental research programs in the past, and also it has served as an important innovative technology in industry. The research efforts in the past decades generally resulted in incremental improvements, with occasional new reactions found by serendipity. It is clear that radical new approaches are required to enforce a breakthrough in this area. We would like to use Nature's most powerful concept, evolution, as a source of inspiration to develop (r)evolutionary catalysts.
The implementation of the new concepts in industry will be accelerated through the involvement of DSM in this network, one of the leaders in the use of homogeneous catalysis and biocatalysis in fine chemicals production. It is important to train the young researchers in the many aspects of catalysis. This network will provide the ideal environment for this training. The ESR/ER will learn the importance of catalysis in the industrial context and how to implement catalysis in synthetic pathways. They will be trained in high throughput experimentation and the use of sophisticated robots in synthesis, catalysis and analysis.
They will be taught the many different types of catalysis, such as homogeneous catalysis, biocatalysis and organocatalysis, and the value of molecular calculations supporting experimental work. It is clear that researchers trained in the above manner and exposed to the new research concepts will tremendously increase their chance of employment in the European chemical or pharmaceutical industry. In addition, they will help these industries to increase their competitiveness, which will allow them to compete with the low-wage Asian countries.
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