NWA vs KIC grants: what are the differences?

verschillen NWA versus KIC

Recently, NWO published more information about two of its grant schemes: the NWO instrument for the Knowledge and Innovation Convenant (KIC) and the new NWA research grants for consortia call (NWA-ORC). At first glance, these two instruments look very much alike, but there are important differences that should be acknowledged and that can help you with determining which of the two schemes is the better fit for your idea, application and consortium.

Below we will provide more detail about both grant schemes and will highlight the most important differences.

Demand-driven research

Both grant schemes set out to fund demand driven research. But while the NWA-ORC primarily focusses on societally-driven issues and demands, the KIC scheme focusses on strengthening the competitive advantage of enterprises and industries. Both programs require collaboration between public and private partners in consortia that include all relevant parties. Where the NWA-ORC scheme is directly linked to the national research agenda and its societally-driven research questions, the KIC scheme is a direct continuation of the Dutch top sector policy, focusing on issues that transcend singular top sectors and therefore require a more collaborative approach.


The topics that are tackled by both grant schemes seemingly overlap. The NWA-ORC scheme is linked to the 25 NWA routes, driven by an underlying collection of societal questions. The KIC scheme recognizes 4 themes (Energy transition & Sustainability; Agriculture, Food &Water; Health & Care; Security), selected by the government and translated into 25 missions. These missions have been completed with mission-transcending key technologies (e.g. AI, biotechnology), nicknamed the fifth mission. A research plan must connect to either the NWA routes or the KIC missions to be eligible for funding. The better the fit, the higher the chance!


Interdisciplinarity is an important pillar of both grant schemes. Applicants are stimulated to think outside the box when it comes to collaborations: outside their institutes, outside their research field, and even outside their sector. Collaborations between alpha, gamma and beta sciences are not only promoted but mandatory, as well as collaborations between academia and industry and knowledge institutes or universities of applied science. The most important difference between both grant schemes lies in the participation of private companies. While in NWA-ORC applications companies can be included, in KIC applications companies must be included.


Cofinancing of the research activities by societal partners, companies and other interested organizations is a must for both grant schemes. The required cofinancing increases in line with the application level of the research and the need to strengthen the competitive advantage of companies. For a NWA-ORC application, 10% of cofinancing is required, which can be completely in-kind, whereas the KIC requires up to 50% of cofinancing, part of which must be in cash. 

Calls and budgets


The NWA-ORC application procedure is a three-step procedure: first an announcement of the initiative (deadline October 1st, 2020), second a pre-proposal (January 14th, 2021) and third a full proposal (June 24th, 2021). The deadlines for the KIC schemes have not yet been published, but a few specialized calls with in the “applied research scheme” (KIEM, LINT and SPRONG) are already opened. In the table below you’ll find an overview of the current possibilities and their most important characteristics.

ProgramSub ProgramFunding (mln euro)CofinancingDuration
NWANWA-ORC (annual)Choose one of:
* 0,5 - 2
* 2 - 5
* 5 - 10
10% (can be completely in-kind)4 - 8 years
KICMission-driven, thematic calls (6-12 per year)* 0,75 - 410% (cash or in-kind; private) or 30% (with at least a 50% private cash contribution)Max. 6 years
Demand-driven, public private partnerships (6 per year)* 0,75 - 450% cash by partners (private & public; at least 30% by private partners)Variable
Long-term programs for strategic knowledge development (1-2 per year)* 3 to 10 per year (incl. NWO-contribution of 25-33%)
* 25 max. over 10 years
10% of which at least 50% in cash10 years
Applied research for HBO (multiple calls per year)* 0,02 - 230% of which at least half in cashVariable

In need of help?

A great grant application requires excellent preparation. It is important to start your application process early. You can check which schemes might fit best with your research ambition and future projects. We at Evers + Manders can help you with deciding which scheme fits best, the strategic planning of your proposal, the formation of your consortium and the writing of your applications. If you are interested in partnering with us, and are in need of more information, feel free to contact us!



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