The Dutch Research Council (NWO) is the most important financer of national research in the Netherlands. NWO funds scientific research at Dutch universities and research institutes through a range of funding instruments. These include the Talent Scheme programme, the Open Competition programme, and funding intruments linked to the Top sectors and the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA).
The Talent Scheme programme offers individual grants for talented, creative researchers and has three funding instruments tailored to various phases in researchers' scientific careers: Veni, Vidi and Vici.
Veni grants are targeted at outstanding researchers who have recently obtained their PhD. They are at the start of their scientific career and display a striking talent for scientific research. Veni applicants must have obtained their doctorate within the last three years.
Vidi grants are targeted at researchers who have already spent several years doing postdoctoral research. It allows them to develop their own innovative line of research, and to appoint one or more researchers for this. Researchers can apply for a Vidi grant if they have done several years of research at postdoc level. In this research they have come up with innovative ideas that they have been able to independently and successfully develop further. Vidi applicants must have obtained their doctorate no more than eight years ago.
Vici grants are targeted at outstanding senior researchers who have successfully demonstrated the ability to develop their own innovative lines of research, and to act as coaches for young researchers. It gives them the opportunity to build up their own research group, often in anticipation of a tenured professorship. The research group must become structurally embedded in the research institution. Vici applicants must have obtained their PhD within the last 15 years.
For the Veni and Vidi rounds, researchers may only submit a proposal on two occasions. For Vici, researchers may submit a proposal on three occasions.
The Open Competition programme encourages research that is not linked to a particular theme. Several NWO domains organise an open competition and they each set their own conditions for research projects. This funding instrument aims to serve a broader group of researchers in different stages of their academic careers
The aim of the Open Competition SSH | NWO is to facilitate excellent, non-programmed, curiosity-driven research that primarily addresses a social sciences or humanities research question and research problem. The SSH Domain has three different types of funding: the small-scale (XS) and large-scale (M and L) grants.
The SSH Open Competition XS encourages research that is ground-breaking and where it is not certain in advance whether the intended objectives will be achieved. What counts is that the result of each project contributes to the advancement of science. In the pilot phase (2022-23) there are four rounds across the academic year. Researchers who obtained their PhD between five and ten years before the submission date for the relevant round are eligible to apply. Applicants are allowed to apply in only one of the four rounds per year. The maximum amount per application is €50,000.
The SSH Open Competition M focuses on free, curiosity-driven research with a primarily social science and/or humanities research question. Proposals with an interdisciplinary or cross-domain character can also be submitted to this instrument, provided they contain a clear social science and/or humanities component. Researchers who obtained their PhD at least ten years before the submission date may apply. Beginning in June 2022, there is one call every other year and researchers are allowed to submit one proposal per round. The maximum amount per application is €400,000.
The SSH Open Competition L is open to applicants who received their PhD at least fifteen years ago before the submission date. Beginning in June 2023, there is one call every other year. The maximum amount per application is €750,000. The Open Competition M and L will therefore be open for applications in alternate years. However, applications to these grants may not be made in consecutive years. Hence it is not permitted to apply (for example) to the Open Competition M and then in the following year to the Open Competiton L.
In the Open Competition ENW | NWO researchers can apply individually or in collaboration for curiosity-driven, fundamental research in the research fields of the NWO Domain Science (ENW). This funding instrument is open for research proposals with a question in or overlapping the fields of earth sciences, astronomy, chemistry, computer science, life sciences, physics and mathematics. Proposals can be monodisciplinary, multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary in nature. The NWO Domain Science has three different types of funding that you can submit proposals for in open competition. These are the small-scale (XS, M) and large-scale (XL) grants.
The aim of the ZonMw Open Competitie 2023 - ZonMw is to create space for curiosity-driven, creative collaboration that leads to groundbreaking science of exceptional quality in the field of health.
NWO takes part in the Top sectors policy of the Dutch government for mission-oriented innovation within the social themes of energy transition & sustainability; agriculture, water & food; health & care and safety. In this process, NWO ensures a good connection between the ambitions of the top sectors and the funding of scientific research within these areas. As the research themes are highly relevant to society, knowledge utilisation is an important focus. Several Top Consortia for Knowledge and Innovation (TKIs) have been established to ensure that the joint research agenda within the top sectors is realised. In a TKI, parties across the entire knowledge chain work together to consolidate excellent public-private partnerships in the area of research.
In the coming years, NWO will increasingly link activities in the top sectors to the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) and to international research agendas such as the Grand Societal Challenges from Horizon 2020. For this, NWO will create additional opportunities for long-term funding and programmes that transect the top sectors. In addition, these programmes provide space for a broad chain approach that connects fundamental, strategic, practice-oriented, and applied research and also involves non-scientific parties. Examples of such funding programmes are the NWA-Research Along Routes by Consortia (ORC), NWO Crossover and thematic programming on urgent social themes in collaboration with government ministries.
NWO has various other funding instruments. A complete overview can be found at the NWO website.
Rubicon offers talented researchers who have completed their doctorates in the past year the chance to gain experience at a top research institution outside the Netherlands. Rubicon is open for all scientific disciplines for a research project at a foreign research institute.
The Spinoza Prize is the highest award in Dutch science. Each year, NWO awards the NWO Spinoza Prizes to three or four researchers working in the Netherlands who according to international standards belong to the absolute top of science. The laureates each receive 2.5 million euros to spend on scientific research.
The Stevin Prize is an honorary award for top researchers or a team of two to three researchers with international reputations for what they have achieved in their scientific career on knowledge exchange and impact. The laureates each receive 2.5 million euro to spend on research and/or activities on knowledge exchange and impact.
Women are underrepresented at higher levels on the career ladder. This is certainly true for higher education and research in the Netherlands. The Aspasia programme ensures that more female assistant professors progress to the level of associate or full professor. Aspasia was set up by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands and NWO. The grant is intended to encourage the promotion of female Vidi grant candidates to an associate professorship and female Vici grant candidates to a full professorship. The Women In Science Excel programme (WISE) provides talented female scientists with an opportunity to develop or expand their own research group at one of NWO's institutes. WISE contributes directly to attracting top female researchers and promoting their advancement. WISE will provide 20 tenure track positions at NWO research institutes in the years 2016-2020. Through the Athena Prize, NWO calls attention to women who do excellent scientific research in the field of chemistry.
The Take-off programme focuses on facilitating and encouraging commercial and entrepreneurial activities initiated at Dutch universities and the research institutes recognised by NWO. It concerns the creation of innovative new commercial activities that emerge from knowledge development and utilisation by academic entrepeneurs. The Demonstrator programme focuses on facilitating and stimulating the application of research results from Dutch universities, research institutes or colleges of higher education and research funded by Regieorgaan SIA. The grant allows researchers to further develop a technology.