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Get ready! The NWA call of NWO will open on 24 May

On the 9th of March the minister of Education, Culture and Science published a letter in which additional investments totaling 308 million euro for the National Science Agenda (NWA) were announced. As a result, NWO will yearly open a call for collaborative projects, the first being in May of this year for €52.2 million. On the 8th of May more information was presented at the start event in Amsterdam.

History of National Science Agenda (NWA)

After a public consultation, the questions of the National Science Agenda were presented in May of 2015. Subsequently, the major topics were grouped in 25 routes. Early 2016 for all of these routes, a portfolio of opportunities for research and innovation has been identified by academics, societal and commercial stakeholders jointly, focusing on game changers. These will be the priorities for research in the coming years for which in total 308 M€ has been allocated. This allowed NWO to design a large programme for the NWA, which fits in its new strategy.

Opening of the first call on the 24th of May

NWO will open a call of €52.2 million this year for projects connecting to the NWA or parts of it for projects varying in size from 500K to €10 million. This means that not all existing routes will be funded automatically, but will compete with each other. Projects can only be submitted by consortia, and need to involve stakeholder co-creation and knowledge utilization. The research can be a mix of open and thematic, as well as fundamental and applied. It is the expectation that the best organized researchers will be able to develop the best projects. A pilot call in 2017 has yielded eight routes that have received a Start impulse grant, which gives them a head start. Nevertheless, the call is specifically open to everyone. The details of the call are summarised below in so far they were presented at the meeting.

How to get involved in the NWA?

A great number of researchers has been involved in contributing to the discussions on these routes and their agenda. Each route is headed by a figurehead, and for six routes this is a researcher from Leiden. Luris keeps list of activities of each NWA route and of Leiden researchers involved. Please contact Luris to get an update. If your research topic fits within the scope of a route, it is worthwhile to go the kick-off event of this route. If a route is not active, it will also offer you the opportunity to organize a meeting and start up a project. Importantly, NWO has small grants available to organize a kick-off meeting (€10.000) and also for the generation of new ideas (€50.000)for the NWA that are high risk-high gain.

What does stakeholder co-creation and knowledge utilization mean in practice?

In their recently published ambitions NWO states that performing research jointly with different scientific disciplines and approaches, as well as involving different partners in the knowledge chain and other stakeholders, enriches the generation of new knowledge and facilitates the generation of societal impact of research. This is reflected in the NWA call criteria. To show stakeholder involvement it will be necessary to arrange at least 10% co-funding by societal (also think of governmental departments) and/or private partners for the project. This contribution may be in kind, you can think of a role in dissemination or the implementation of research results in practice. Setting up a project with stakeholders takes time, so be prepared for this.

Advice and support

Both the Luris Grant development advisors and Knowledge Brokers are happy to assist you with setting up a project. Please do not hesitate to contact Luris with your ideas.


Details of the call

Call opens 24th of May
Pre-proposal deadline 11th of September
Full proposal deadline 18th of December


The call is targeted at research that fits within one of the 25 routes of the NWA. The research needs to be broad, interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral. There needs to be a clear connection between fundamental and applied research.

The main applicant needs to be a knowledge institute that is eligible for NWO funding, a university of applied sciences or a TO2-institute. Co-applicants receive part of the funding. They need to be established in the Netherlands, have a public task and is independent in the conduct of research, and has no profit motive. International partners are allowed if and when such expertise is not available on the same level within the Netherlands. The consortium does not have to be previously involved in the routes, and can be completely novel.

The call requires 10% co-financing. This needs to be supplied by a partner that does not receive subsidy. The contribution can be in cash, in kind or a combination of both. The co-financing can originate from multiple consortium partners.

Projects will be judged on the quality of the proposal, the quality of the consortium and the potential for scientific or societal breakthroughs.

For the first call a total of €52.2 million will be available. Projects can apply in three different ranges depending on the scope and timeline of the project itself. The possible funding per project within these ranges is as follows:

  • 500K – 2 M
  • 2 M – 5 M
  • 5 M – 10 M
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