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 the medium-sized and large instruments. In addition, both ENW and SGW have the XS variant (max. €50,000) for pioneering and high-risk initiatives, with a great deal of freedom for the form of research and the budget.

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 gives researchers the opportunity to carry out unattached, curiosity-driven research, either individually or in collaboration. This offers opportunities for researchers to further develop their careers. In addition, there is the ENW-M invest variation, for larger investments that are necessary for the research.



  • Max. €400,000 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. €800,000 per project.
  • 1 main applicant + 1 co-applicant with complementary expertise.
  • Financing includes:
    • 2 temporary scientific positions in cooperation;
    • 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’.


  • Min. €1,000,000 and max. €3,000,000 per project.
  • Consortia in which several research groups combine expertise and strengths.
  • Grant must be used for min. 4 scientific positions.
  • Deadline preliminary application: 19 September 2023.
  • Deadline full application: 6 June 2024.


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.

Deadline for proposals is 1 November 2022.

  • Maximaum €400,000 per project.
  • Maximum duration is 5 years.
  • Different possibilities for the budget (budget modules):
    • Personnel
    • Materials
    • Investments 
    • Knowledge utilisation
    • Internationalisation 


The ZonMw Open Competition is intended for innovative fundamental health research, where creative collaboration between research groups (team science) leads to groundbreaking science. 4 years and maximal 5 years.

The maximum grant that can be applied for is €750,000; in addition, an optional investment module (€100,000 – 250,000) can be applied for. 


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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.

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