First ‘CERN BIC @ Nikhef’ start-up is launched

22 - 09 - 2017

Oliscience: Where valorisation helps solve engineering problems

Amsterdam, 22 September

Today marks the official launch of Oliscience (Open Logic Interconnects science,, led by Andrea Borga, a digital designer at the Electronics Technology department at Nikhef. The project concerns, among other things, the new ownership of the gateware community site OpenCores by Oliscience.

Since 1999, the go-to reference site for the gateware community has been OpenCores ( The portal is widely used by for instance research engineers who want to avoid the duplication of effort which happens when they create IP (Intellectual Property) “Cores” that already exist. Engineers themselves in turn contribute with Cores, using OpenCores for showcasing the gateware developed at their research institutes.

Andrea Borga, who has been a user and contributor of the site for many years, firmly believes in the value of such a community. “I have been promoting it by actively participating. However, the portal has suffered a lack of maintenance by the previous owners. Despite it being out of date, the site still attracts many visitors and a few contributors.” Andrea thus decided to acquire it to revive the community, and since April 2017 he has been the owner and sole administrator.

Oliscience is an initiative originating from the CERN Business Incubation Centre @ Nikhef, located at the Amsterdam Science Park. The initiative is supported by Nikhef.

Borga: “I have been a digital designer for over ten years now. I am a passionate and enthusiastic promoter of Open Source in the field of “hardware”. The problem I am aiming to solve with Oliscience is the distribution of what some experts in the field call “gateware”: a layer in the engineering of electronics that lies in between physical components (“hardware”, like Printed Circuit Boards, and manufactured chips) and the low level software (known as “firmware”)”.

Next to the relaunch of OpenCores, Oliscience aims to strengthen and promote the development of Intellectual Properties (IPs, also known as “Cores”) in the field of digital design engineering for FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays), with a careful eye on scientific applications (fundamental research). Borga: “Through the portal I also want to start offering consultancy services for the design, streamlining, deployment, documentation and long term maintenance of IPs, with great consideration to Open Source “hardware” licensing, and fostering the spread and regulation of such licenses.”

Oliscience got accepted as one of ten ambitious startups to the upcoming ACE bootcamp; a program that will help to test and develop Oliscience’s business case in detail. ACE is also part of the CERN-Nikhef BIC network. This opportunity is a sound proof of the strong synergy that the Amsterdam Science Park research ecosystem could spark.

The ambitious concept is already backed by private investors who see concrete business opportunities in this initiative. Initial funds will be invested in the technical developments of both the OpenCores platform, and the Oliscience business, marketing and communication strategy; to ensure a solid foundation for robust growth.

Jan Visser, Nikhef’s Industrial Contacts Coordinator and Industrial Liaison Officer says: “The transfer of knowledge and technology to industry, civil society and the general public is an integral part of Nikhef’s mission. That is why Nikhef supports Oliscience as an initiative, as well as its attempt to empower the OpenCores portal and community.”

More information:

The CERN Business Incubation Centre (BIC) @ Nikhef is a collaboration between Nikhef and CERN. It aims to develop new products and services from technology, originating from (astro) particle physics by offering start-ups access to technologies, expertise and IP (intellectual property) from CERN and Nikhef. More about BIC

Researchers at Nikhef (the National Institute for Subatomic Physics) study the interactions and structure of all elementary particles and fields at the smallest distance scale and the highest attainable energy. We follow two complementary approaches: interactions in particle collision processes at particle accelerators, in particular at CERN (accelerator-based particle physics) and interactions of particles and radiation emanating from the universe (astroparticle physics). Nikhef coordinates and leads the Dutch experimental activities in these fields. The research at Nikhef relies on the development of innovative technologies. To this end Nikhef avails over well equipped technical and engineering departments.

Contact details:

Oliscience: Andrea Borga

Nikhef: Jan Visser

Nikhef science communications department: Melissa van der Sande