The purpose of the VU Digital Sustainability Center (DiSC) is to fuel collaboration on digitalization, digital transformation and the role of software for sustainability. Its mission is to accelerate the creation of knowledge that is relevant, useful and actionable - relevant via high-quality research, useful for society, and actionable via the creation of know-hows.


In our vision, the center will include two pillars: sustainable digitalization (i.e., digital solutions that can adapt to change), and digitalization for sustainability (i.e., digital solutions that help organizations address sustainability goals). The first pillar falls in the core research and education of the Computer Science Department, the second is interdisciplinary in nature.

The VU Campus has a great scientific mass on various digital sustainability research topics. Sustainability is central to its strategy. In this context, the DiSC will act as a center of excellence between the Network Institute (NI) and under the umbrella of the Amsterdam Sustainability Institute (ASI). In this way, it helps increase the visibility of our research excellence and enables the creation of new strategic synergies that combine scientific excellence, relevance for practice, and societal impact, in both private and public sectors.

Strategic synergies under the umbrella of DiSC will concretize in:

  • Labs: a DiSC Lab is a research collaboration between VU researchers, and one or multiple industrial, governmental, or not-for-profit partner(s).
  • Educational platform: DiSC will offer its partners the possibility to fund student projects and research assignments with high-quality co-supervision. The VU and International educational programs related to digitalization and sustainability will attract a diverse and international population of students.
  • Outreach: the partners under the DiSC umbrella will create a “talent ecosystem” for the co-creation of competencies and the cross-fertilization of knowledge.

By joining forces, the DiSC and its partners will accelerate industrial maturity and excellence; provide top-class research and education in digitalization and sustainability; act as the reference point for talents and excellent partnerships to solve the complex problems of today’s and tomorrow’s society.

The main cross-cutting SDGs the DiSC addresses are:

  • SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production
    • software energy footprint
    • sustainable cloud society
  • SDG 17 Partnerships for the goals
    • knowledge acceleration
    • societal impact

Kickstart challenges

The DiSC has started with the following challenges:

Sustainability challenges

  • What is sustainability, and what does it mean for me / my organization / my business?
    • Understand how to embed sustainability in creating and evolving cloud-based software- and data management solutions

Digitalization challenges

  • What should be digitally transformed?
    • Create new business/consumption models emerging from the digital transformation, and the associated digital solutions

Implementation challenges

  • How to accelerate knowledge co-creation in digital sustainability? How to guide adoption?
    • Build an actionable toolkit to help partners in the transition toward digital sustainability

Education and Training challenges

  • What are the competencies and skills we need in order to accompany digital sustainability?
    • Rethink higher education and knowledge transfer in the university-practice ecosystem