NWO – Open Competition

Open competitie: filosofie en religie

The Open Competition is a funding instrument intended for free research without thematic preconditions. There are various possibilities for the size and layout of the projects. Costs for equipment and/or (inter)national cooperation can also be included. The Open Competition is deployed via three different channels:

  • NWO – Exact and natural sciences (ENW)
  • NWO – Social sciences and humanities (SGW)
  • ZonMw – (Patient-oriented) medical sciences

Which channel matches your specific request depends on your field of expertise and the subject of your project. Of course, we are happy to help you find the appropriate OC instrument that fits your project idea. Below we provide a brief overview of the specifications.

For all channels, applications can only be made by a researcher working at an NWO-accredited research institute or Dutch university. All applications are assessed for both scientific quality and scientific and/or social impact. 


This medium-sized grant is there to promote fundamental research in the exact sciences and natural sciences. It explicitly offers opportunities for researchers to develop their careers. In addition, there is an ENW-M-invest module for larger investments that are required for the research. 

Applications may be submitted on a continuous basis. The round closes when the 72nd application in the fifth package is received or, at the latest, by 31 July 2022.



  • Max. €350,000 per project.
  • 1 main applicant (no co-applicants).
  • Financing includes:
    • 1 temporary scientific position;
    • Material budget;
    • Small investments (if relevant); and/or
    • Non-scientific support.


  • Max. €700,000 per project.
  • 1 main applicant + 1 co-applicant with complementary expertise.
  • Financing includes:
    • 2 temporary scientific positions;
    • Material budget;
    • Small investments (if relevant); and/or
    • Non-scientific support.


  • Min. €150,000 and max. €500,000.
  • Financing concerns an investment.
  • The institution’s own contribution should be at least 25%.
  • The addition evaluation criterion, namely imbedding and use of the investment, should simply be marked as ‘good’.


This scheme finances free, curiosity-driven research within the social sciences and humanities. This funding is intended for experienced researchers who no longer qualify for the NWO Talent Scheme.

Applications can be submitted via 8 disciplinary panels, namely:

  • Linguistics;
  • Historical sciences;
  • Philosophy and religion;
  • Cultural sciences;
  • Economics and business administration;
  • Behaviour and education;
  • Law and administration;
  • Social sciences.

The scheme is currently closed, but is expected to return next year.

  • €750,000 per project.
  • Maximum duration is 6 years.
  • Different possibilities for the budget (budget modules):
    • Personnel
    • Materials
    • Investments (up to and including €150,000; or between €150-500,000)
    • Knowledge utilisation
    • Internationalisation 


The ZonMw Open Competition is intended for fundamental research into health care and innovation. Two types of research are eligible, namely innovative science with high societal relevance; and collaboration between research groups (synergy).

The scheme is currently closed, but is expected to return next year.

  • €750.000 per project.
  • Minimal duration is 4 years and maximal 5 years.
  • For ZonMw Open Competition the same budget modules apply as for NWO – SGW. In addition, there is the possibility for additional funding between €100-250,000 for medium-size infrastructure. The maximum funding per project incl. investment module is €1 million.



Follow us on LinkedIn!


This fact sheet aims to provide a quick overview of the objectives, structure and conditions of this subsidy scheme. No conclusions can be drawn from this information. Moreover, this document has no legal status.

Share this article via: LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook