Research Centre for Healthy and Sustainable Living

In the healthy and sustainable city, knowledge questions in the fields of healthcare, an environmentally sustainable living environment and the development of 21st century digital and energy infrastructure play a central role. The city of Utrecht is a focal point for mobility, energy and ICT. This includes areas such as innovations in the provision of care, self-management, life sciences, smart energy and sensors. Climate-change adaptation (e.g. heat stress and flooding), clean air and green space are also key issues. The aim is to create a city that provides sufficient activities and is self-contained, so that urban residents can lead healthy lives.

Some examples of the knowledge questions that this centre is working on: How can healthy forms of exercise be promoted in the city? What role do sensors and smart technology play in this? How can the university itself become healthier and serve as a role model? This research centre ensures that Utrecht can set the standard in the fields of care, urban development and healthy urbanization.

Partners from professional practice

The research centre’s partners include: 

Research with a practical focus

An essential requirement for all our research is that demand for it comes from professional practice, or that the research is immediately recognized as relevant by professional practice. The results of the research conducted by the centre lead not only to the acquisition of scientific knowledge, but are also applied in professional practice.

The research groups actively contribute their knowledge to partners in professional practice through lectures, seminars, presentations and workshops. A thorough grounding in professional practice is further assured by the fact that the professors are, in a range of different capacities, involved in societies and healthcare institutions within their respective disciplines, and have concluded agreements with various healthcare institutions and hospitals. Representatives from professional practice also participate - on their own initiative and at the request of the centre - in research and actively participate in the development of knowledge, making sure that this new knowledge is circulated.

Results for teaching and education

The professors, who are all experts in their field, are the driving force behind the research centre. They deploy their knowledge and experience to promote research and innovation within the professional field. The professors are supported by researchers (who are often also active as teaching staff members). This combination creates excellent connections between the research groups and the university’s degree programmes, facilitating the transfer of new knowledge from research to teaching. 

HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht encourages its teaching staff to participate actively in their field and also to carry out doctoral research within it. Many students are also actively involved in conducting applied research. This is one reason why they will be excellently placed to play a role in professional practice. 

The CareTechLab

The building at Heidelberglaan 7 is home to HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht’s CareTechLab. It showcases the developments that are currently underway in the field of healthcare and technology, as well as the university’s own research results. Everyone is welcome to visit the lab so that they can see, experience and try out these innovations and new technologies for themselves. The CareTechLab can also be used by students or teachers, to carry out research, for example. The following innovations can be seen at the CareTechLab:

  • Google Glass with Genzõ application (which enables distance caregiving, for example);
  • Care Robot ZORA (which is already in use in care for elderly people and in schools);
  • Interactive Modular Tiles (which enables people to exercise in a fun and accessible way);
  • Dynamic lighting (different colours and intensities of light influence humans).

If you have any questions or comments or would like to visit the CareTechLab, please contact us on

The iLab

The building at Heidelberglaan 7 is also home to HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht’s iLAB (Innovation Lab). The iLab provides laboratory facilities, personnel and equipment and enables students and researchers to carry out practical research projects. Companies (mainly new start-ups) and knowledge partners work together in the iLAB on the development of innovative methods of testing and analysis. The staff at the iLab have extensive experience with advanced tissue culture techniques, immunochemical techniques, and testing for the presence of compounds in complex matrices. iLab is part of the national network of iLabs, which receives support as part of the Top Sector Chemistry and LSH.

If you have any questions about the iLAB or would like to visit, please contact us at: 

The research groups

The Research Centre for Healthy and Sustainable Living consists of several research groups. Each research group focuses on several research lines. These are areas or themes in which one or more (doctoral) research studies are being carried out. The research groups are as follows:

  • Chronic Diseases
    Our ageing population means that more and more people are living with chronic health conditions. The work of this research group helps to find solutions that can enable elderly people to live independently for longer. 
  • Innovation of Movement Care
    Physical therapy is changing. Those who require physical therapy are becoming older and there are more and more of them, while resources remain scarce. The professional field requires new methods of organization in order to continue providing care. This research group is involved with research at the forefront of this mission.
  • Innovation in Healthcare Processes in Pharmacology
    How can pharmaceutical innovations be made available for caregivers and patients as quickly and efficiently as possible? And how can we ensure that these innovations are applied in the right way? These are the primary questions for this research group. 
  • Lifestyle and Healthcare
    How are physical activity and fitness related? And which factors influence those relationships, particularly in people with medical conditions or disorders? This research group searches for the answers to these questions. 
  • Technology for Healthcare Innovations
    Enabling people to live independently and make decisions about their own healthcare needs for as long as possible: this is the goal of the research conducted by the demand-driven healthcare research group. 
  • Innovations in Preventive Care
    This research group develops knowledge on preventative healthcare. It looks at how different disciplines can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, in order to improve healthcare outcomes for all. 
  • New Energy in the City
    The transition to a sustainable and energy-neutral society begins in the city. This research group develops and shares expertise in this area, focusing on themes such as reducing the demand for energy and the sustainable generation of energy.
  • Microsystems Technology
    This research group focuses on product improvement and the industrialization of microsystems: autonomous sensor systems that take data measurements of the environment that we live in.
  • Innovative Testing in Life Sciences and Chemistry
    The aim of this research group is to develop, optimize and validate methods for testing the safety and effects of (natural) substances. These in vitro methods provide an alternative to experiments with laboratory animals.
  • Building Future Cities
    This research group researches new ways of working and collaborating in the construction sector. It aims to help make the construction sector more productive and sustainable, promoting the smarter use of resources, capacities and information in the construction supply chain. 

Centre of Expertise

The Research Centre for Healthy and Sustainable Living is closely linked with the Centre of Expertise (CoE) for Smart Sustainable Cities. HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht works closely with companies and other research institutions in this field. With its innovative research and teaching work, the CoE helps to develop products, services and solutions that bring us closer to achieving smart, healthy, sustainable cities.