What does the new NWO strategy mean for your next grant application?

NWO -Strategie

Last month, the Dutch Research Council (NWO) published their strategic plan for the years 2023-2026, entitled “Science works!”, setting out the building blocks and ambitions on which NWO will focus in the coming years. Although the current course is still present, there are also some changes. What will you notice as an applicant?

Below we will give a brief summary of the strategy paper:


  1. * Research culture

  2. The Dutch research culture is changing, partly driven by NWO’s policy that in recent years has focused strongly on Open Science, Team Science, integrity and ethics, FAIR data and the new “Recognition and Rewards” (through the narrative and soon the evidence-based CV). In addition, NWO wants to free up more funding for groups of researchers who are currently lagging behind and contribute more to alleviate the current high workload by:
    • Making application procedures and administrative obligations as easy as possible;
    • Making agreements at institutional level on themes such as open access, data management and diversity and inclusion policy so that researchers no longer have to address this;
    • Investing more in structural programmes and infrastructure, reducing the application pressure.
  1. * Impact

    In the NWA-ORC and KIC programmes, societal impact has been an integral goal of research projects since 2018. NWO will continue this focus on impact and extend it to other programmes. In the more fundamental calls and in the Talent Programme, impact will therefore also play a central role. It can be useful to think carefully about where the impact of your research lies and how you can achieve this intended impact.


  1. * (Inter)national cooperation

    Cooperation in research projects is already becoming increasingly important, within and between disciplines, but also in so-called “chain-wide”, applied research collaborations with universities of applied sciences, commercial partners (for example through public-private partnerships), knowledge users and international partners. This chain-wide collaboration remains very important within the new strategy, together with more international cooperation to stay at the top of the global research world. NWO also wants to look at how they can support consortium formation because that takes a lot of time. It is important to keep an eye on this development


  1. * Balance between curiosity- and mission-driven programs

    It has now been announced that the open competitions (for example the ENW XS-XL programs) will receive an extra financial boost so that more curiosity-driven research can be carried out. The aim is to increase the budget for Open Competitions and the Talent Programme by at least 25%. NWO wants to create a good balance between these two types of programmes and this will be reflected in the distribution of financial resources.


In the coming period, we will see many points from this strategy reflected in the grant calls. Of course, we will keep a close eye on this to be able to offer optimal support in identifying subsidy opportunities and guiding the application process.


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