NWO – KIC – Mission-driven calls

NWO- KIC - sleuteltechnologieen

With the funding line Knowledge and Innovation Covenant (KIC), NWO contributes to the Dutch government’s mission-driven top sectors and innovation policy. NWO focuses on large-scale and targeted research in which public and private parties collaborate to develop innovative solutions for major societal challenges, such as climate change, cybersecurity, and the ageing population.

A main line within KIC is MISSION: mission-driven, thematic calls focused on priorities outlined in the six Knowledge and Innovation agendas (KIAs).

  • Energy transition & sustainability
  • Agriculture, water & food
  • Health & care
  • Security
  • Key technologies
  • Human capital

In the first four KIA’s, socially important themes have been elaborated into 25 missions that contain concrete ambitions. The subject choice within mission-driven calls is based on prioritization within the KIAs, although ‘Human Capital’ has an orientation through all KIAs. Each KIA-linked programme has a budget between € 5-15 million and there are several calls for proposals annually.

Type of Project

Proposals can be submitted for public-private cooperation projects aimed at societal impact. To increase the likelihood that the intended changes are successful, interdisciplinary research is encouraged, with cooperation between relevant knowledge institutions (including universities of applied sciences), public and private partners, including small and medium-sized enterprises. From 2021 onwards, interdisciplinary cooperation is a precondition for all research proposals. Projects consist of scientific and practice-oriented research.

Funding and Co-financing (Depending on the Call)

  • A budget between € 750,000 and € 4 million per proposal is considered.
  • Co-financing should be between 10-30% of project costs, often with an obligatory percentage in-cash co-financing.
  • Calls can have a mandatory minimum percentage for co-financing from private sources.

Energy Transition & Sustainability

Dutch climate policy aims for a reduction in CO2 emissions of 80-95% by 2050 and a completely CO2-free electricity system. Because not all solutions needed to achieve these goals are available yet, this programme stimulates innovative research on topics such as wind and solar energy, circularity, sustainable mobility, emission-free shipping, and public support for innovations.

Agriculture, Water & Food

Calls within the programme are in line with the six missions of Agriculture, Water & Food:

  • Circular agriculture
  • Climate-neutral agriculture and food production
  • Climate-proof rural and urban areas
  • Valued, healthy, and safe food
  • A sustainable and safe North Sea, oceans, and inland waters
  • The Netherlands as the best protected and liveable delta

Health & Care

Health & Care enables citizens to fully participate in their communities and to do so in good health. The focus is on preventive support, self-management of health problems, and appropriate technology developed and validated together with stakeholders. Calls within this programme focus, amongst others, on moving care to the home environment, research into dementia, and structural improvement of equal opportunities to live in good health.


The Safety theme has been restricted to Security and has the overall ambition to stay one step ahead of (potential) opponents, with smart solutions in service of a safe society. This requires the latest scientific insights, (key) technologies and applications with attention to ethical and social aspects. There are calls across the entire spectrum of security, including maritime high-tech for a safe sea, undermining crime, and better and more useful intelligence products.

Key Enabling Technologies

Key enabling technologies are technologies with a broad scope or range of innovations, and are essential in solving societal challenges. Funding is available for fundamental and application-oriented scientific research into technological breakthroughs. Examples of relevant topics are cyber-physical systems, photonics, and smart medical technology enabling effective and minimally invasive interventions.

Human Capital

The initiation of innovations and the realisation of the intended impact of the KIC missions requires high standards from the Dutch working population. Human Capital focuses on targeted efforts and new insights regarding learning, working, and innovating, necessary to bring the labour potential to the required level and to increase Dutch innovative power. Calls within this programme are aimed at making the innovation policy a success.

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