Free testing in the Deltares experimental research facilities for SMEs and start-ups

Sea level rise and an ever-growing population are putting increasing pressure on deltas worldwide. New knowledge and innovations are needed to provide a safe and sustainable way of living in delta areas. Many of these innovations, which could positively impact society, are being developed by start-ups and other small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Deltares develops knowledge on wide-ranging water- and soil-related topics using state-of-the-art physical experimental facilities and we support innovative SME initiatives. After two successful editions in 2020, 2021 and last year. Deltares will be opening the doors of our facilities again in 2023. We will be offering Dutch start-ups and SMEs up to eighty hours of free testing time for early design concepts of hydraulic, geotechnical and geochemical/microbial devices and innovations. Examples include innovative solutions for bed or coastal protection concepts, energy supply systems, and monitoring or measurement tools and instruments. SMEs can bring their own models for testing in Delft or Utrecht, and Deltares can also help with the construction of the models. The possibilities are endless. This page describes some examples of model tests in a selection of our facilities.

There will be four opportunities for start-ups and SMEs to apply for free testing time.

Q4 (2022): Hydro facilities Apply before 31 December 2022
Q1: Field facilities Apply between 1 January and 31  March 2023
Q2: Geo facilities Apply between 1 April and 31 May 2023
Q3: Laboratories Apply between 1 July and 30 September 2023
Q4: Hydro facilities Apply between 1 November and 31 December 2023

Two initiatives will be selected in each quarter.


For more information about this offer for SMEs, download the Brochure and Collaboration Agreement on the left of this page. To apply, download the Registration form on the left, enter the information about your company and the innovation you wish to test, and send the completed form to Madelief Doeleman (

We hope to welcome innovative start-ups and SMEs to our experimental testing facilities and to collaborate on innovative developments and solutions. Please contact us for more information. We look forward hearing from you!

Our Geo- and Hydro facilities and laboratories:

Geotechnical Laboratory

The Geotechnical Laboratory of Deltares is specialised in performing complex, advanced standardised tests (such as cyclic triaxial, compression and shear tests) and developing and performing non-standard experiments in order to determine soil parameters under specific conditions or to perform experiments in connection with the execution of large-scale field experiments. These experiments and tests are all carried out on soil or materials with soil-like properties.

Geotechnical Model Laboratory

The Geotechnical Model Laboratory has a large variety of set-ups (such as containers and cell rings of different sizes) with measuring instruments (such as pressure and tension gauges, cones, probes and cameras) in climate-controlled rooms. This makes it possible to carry out scaled tests on soil (like sand, clay and peat) with varying groundwater levels, and on structures such as roads, flood defences, pipelines, excavations or construction elements such as piles, sheet piles and anchors.


The GeoCentrifuge is a special experimental facility. Because gravitational forces (g-force) of up to 150 g can be generated when the centrifuge spins, actual sizes of the tested object can be scaled. The size of the machine means that structures such as dykes, railway tracks and wind turbines can be tested and effects such as subsidence and climate change can be measured in the soil. By increasing the g-forces, time is also accelerated. Processes in the subsoil that take decades are reduced to hours.

Geotechnical Field Laboratory

In the Geotechnical Field Laboratory soil research is performed in situ. This can be the sampling of soil or monitoring of soil. For this the knowledge and instruments are available. This is done for example to understand subsidence or to measure the effect of drought. Field experiments are also carried out. Here, constructions are built on an actual scale or existing constructions are tested under extreme conditions. For example, dikes are tested on safety or pile foundations are tested on their bearing capacity.

Biogeochemical and Microbiological laboratory

Experimental research at the biogeochemical and Microbiological laboratory covers domains that include the biological degradation of contaminants such as PFAS and microplastics. Research is also being conducted into the microbial corrosion of steel infrastructure and the development of new monitoring techniques for organic and microbial contaminants. Geochemical processes in, for example, applications of sediment and the composition of organic material are also investigated here. In addition, the lab also has facilities for anaerobic microbiological research, DNA/RNA analyses (at the population and gene levels), hydrogen analyses and the measurement of nutrients and greenhouse gases, both in the lab and live in the field. The focus in our lab is on experimental research; the research question is leading. The sky is the limit! Do you want to know more about us? Feel free to take a look at our folder.

Physical laboratory

The Physical Laboratory (PhL) provides a broad array of different instruments, methods and research opportunities to determine the (geo)physical and biological characteristics of waterbed material, soil- water mixtures, industrial slurries and ores.

Possible industrial applications and research fields include: behavior of dredging plumes and their associated impact on the environment, stability of freshly-deposited dredged sediment, storage of industrial slurries, land reclamation and associated soil-consolidation, de-stabilization of dispersed industrial waste, transport of industrial slurries, land reclamation with muddy sediments, mechanisms to avoid segregation and improve consolidation, siltation rates at ports, erodibility of soft soil upon implementation of civil engineering works, hyper-turbid systems and algal blooms.

The Water Soil Flume

This flume is often used by our partners from the maritime, energy, dredging, and mining industries.

It is the go-to facility for soft-soil-related R&D and innovations. Some of the unique features of the flume are; the carriage and rail system, the ‘clay factory’, the hexapod platform, the plexiglas flume and the availability of numerous measurement devices.

Some examples of innovations that can be tested in the flume are: cutting and suction devices (including deep-sea versions), trenching equipment, anchors, jets, plume dispersion, bubble screens, monopile installation and stability, and much more!

The Scheldt Flume

The Scheldt Flume is a glass flume where innovative coastal and offshore designs can be tested under controlled wave loading.

Innovations that can be tested here include artificial reefs, revetments, and coastal and bed protection.

Atlantic Basin

The Atlantic Basin is unique in the world. The basin can be used for coastal, river, harbour and offshore projects. This basin is a wide flume for investigating flow forces, discharge coefficients, specific design details, bed protection and the morphological impact of hydraulic structures. The basin has been used recently for research to determine whether plastics can be observed from space.