First NWO-call Key Technologies

NWO- KIC - sleuteltechnologieen

The Fifth Theme

Earlier we wrote about the transition in Dutch innovation policy from top sectors to missions, as well as the 4 themes of mission-driven innovation policy:

  • Energy transition and sustainability;
  • Agriculture, water, and food;
  • Health and care;
  • Safety.

Last week a call was published on the theme of agriculture, water, and food. Now a call has been published for what is also referred to as the fifth theme: key technologies. NWO identifies these as follows:

  • Chemical technologies;
  • Digital technologies;
  • Engineering and fabrication technologies;
  • Photonics and light technologies;
  • Advanced materials;
  • Quantum technologies;
  • Life science technologies;
  • Nanotechnologies.

Interdisciplinary and Broad

Many NWO calls are characterised by a focus on consortia with a broad variety of public-private partners, including the participation of both universities and universities of applied sciences. This also applies here. Consortia must be interdisciplinary, and combine fundamental and application-oriented research. The end point must be a proof of concept in the laboratory.

Impact Outlook Strategy

In relation to knowledge utilisation, the road to practical application, NWO promotes three approaches – impact outlook, impact plan, and impact focus – depending on the type of research: from more fundamental research to the application of existing knowledge. The impact outlook approach has been chosen for this Key Technologies call. In this approach, the scientific impact is placed centre stage, rather than the societal impact. However, it is expected that unforeseen societal impacts will be actively considered during the duration of the project.

Human Capital and Learning Communities

According to NWO, achieving the social missions will “require a substantial use of the available labour potential”. Within the impact outlook strategy, proposals must pay attention to the development of human capital and so-called learning communities. Learning communities are partnerships between educational institutions, knowledge institutes, companies, and/or social organisations that bring together learning, working, and innovation. The learning communities must take shape in, for example, field labs, skill labs, centres of expertise, centres for innovative craftsmanship, or lectorates.

Two-stage Application

The principal applicant must be a researcher employed by an NWO-approved knowledge institute or a university of applied sciences. Research proposals can have a budget of between €750,000 and €2,500,000, of which NWO finances a maximum of 70%. At least half of the co-financing must be in cash, and at least half must come from private parties. The deadline for the submission of appropriateness statement is November 10, 2020. The deadline for submitting pre-proposals is January 19, 2021. In February 2021, the consortia will receive advice on whether or not to elaborate their proposal. Full applications must then be submitted by May 18, 2021 at the latest.

Do Not Underestimate the First Stage

In order to be successful, it is important to have developed a good research plan as early as the pre-proposal stage. This will allow you to avoid flaws in the proposal that reduce the chances of a grant being awarded in the second stage.



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