Sustainability research

The research team of Sustainable UM2030 stimulates UM's capacity to build towards a more sustainable future. The research team is linking up with existing and new expertise and knowledge of the various faculties and research institutes. The aim is to initiate new and expand existing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research for the benefit of sustainability. We do this by creating synergies between different academic areas and systematically sharing knowledge. The knowledge gained can in turn be used for education and operations of UM.


Sustainable research is ambitious to realise these goals by 2026:

  • UM has established at least three Centers of Excellences (CoE), which also serve as living labs, where students and staff work on SDG’s in collaboration with governments and companies. These CoE's are challenge driven and address recognized and recognizable societal and/or ecological issues and provide great potential for new scientific insights and bridge disciplinary boundaries. 
  • Develop an interactive tool to map and highlight all sustainability research and progress. In this way, the development of the sustainability research ecosystem will be supported and it will be open/inclusive for new scientists.

  • An active, vibrant, and visible sustainable research community. This platform will lead to a variety and multitude of cross-links between researchers in different disciplines, strengthening the UM research impact in science and society.

Seed Fund for Sustainability Research Spearheads

Do you have an innovative research idea that could transform our future to be more sustainable? Are you passionate about pioneering solutions through research that address climate change, circularity, and community well-being?

Maastricht University (UM) has established a seed fund to promote interdisciplinary and cross-faculty sustainability research collaborations, focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly climate, circularity, and community. This fund is important for researchers as it provides financial support to establish strategic collaborations, enabling them to explore unexploited sustainable research areas and develop innovative solutions for a sustainable future. It aims to promote and fund the collaborative research, networking and preparation of research funding. UM strives to foster strong internal and external research networks, preparing researchers for larger international grants and contributing to the transition to a fossil-free society.

In the future, UM Sustainability Research Spearheads will be a research stronghold, contributing innovative approaches and expertise to academia, industry, policy-makers, and society. These spearheads will be challenge-driven, interdisciplinary, involve external stakeholders, and explore contributions to educational programs, making them highly relevant to various sectors.

seed fund

Granted seed fund research projects

In the past three academic years, one round has taken place each time. In the academic year 2020-2021, two projects have been honoured with seed fund, namely the FOODSY and Sustainable Cities projects. In the academic year 2022-2023, as many as five projects have been awarded. In this past academic year, five projects were again awarded. In this last round, these projects were aimed at the transition towards a fossil-free society.

 Click here for a complete overview of granted seed funds.

Sustainability Research: the video series

Many researchers strive to contribute to a more sustainable world. We let them explain to you how they want to make a difference and what their research challenges are. And more importantly, giving you knowledge that you can use in your everyday life. Below, you'll find the first in a range of videos about Sustainability Research at UM.

Research collaborations at UM

Research collaborations on sustainable buildings 

Buildings are responsible for a large part of the total global environmental impact through their construction and maintenance, and in particular through business operations, such as climate control. In addition, a large part of the world's population now spends more than 90% of its time inside buildings, making the relevance to health evident. In addition to research, UM aims to make its own buildings more sustainable with a focus on energy efficiency and health. Especially in the field of health, UM can link its own research to its own buildings, as for example in the Tapijn Living Lab (the first educational building with a WELL certification).

In 2021, the Real Estate Finance group of the SBE faculty and the Thermophysiology and Metabolism research group of the FHML faculty have joined forces. They started to research if sustainable buildings contributed to our health and productivity. More recently, this cooperation has resulted in a new application (TKI) in the area of sustainable indoor climates.

In September 2020, the PhD study of Stefan Flagner has officially started to investigate if the high-quality renovation of the Tapijnkazerne building has resulted in a top-notch indoor environment and indeed results in improved productivity (including learning outcomes), health, and well-being.

As well as a second PhD student, Cynthia Ly, has started to research air quality in buildings (funded by RVO).

sustainable buildings

Mapping sustainability research


In the spring of 2019, we carried out a study into the state of affairs of sustainability research within UM. We are using this as a basis to take sustainability research at UM further.

In addition, UM creates impact by linking sustainability research to social issues, e.g. through Brightlands. Brightlands is an initiative of the Province of Limburg, Maastricht University, Maastricht University Medical Center+, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Fontys International Campus Venlo, in close cooperation with the business community. This public-private partnership operates from four campuses in Maastricht, Sittard-Geleen, Heerlen and Venlo. There, students, entrepreneurs, scientists and investors work together on new opportunities and solutions in the field of sustainability and health with an eye for the environment, economy and society.