The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) is an organisation providing funding for Dutch researchers. NWO defined multiple domains, representing multiple scientific fields: Social Sciences and Humanities, Applied and Engineering Sciences, Science and Health Research and Development (ZonMw).

Each pillar funds research through multiple programmes. Life Sciences applications are usually within the aim of the pillar Applied and Engineering Sciences. Programmes that fund research in this domain are:

    • Public-Private Partnership, such as the programmes Perspectief, Partnership and Demonstrator
    • Application oriented research, via the Open Technology Programme and the Open Mind programme
    • Stimulating activity and entrepreneurship within research facilities, via the Take-off programme
    • Research Talent via Rubicon, the Talent Scheme (Veni, Vidi, Vici)
    • Strategic programming (including the Top Sectors and the Dutch National Research Agenda – NWA)



After a standstill of 5 weeks, NWO announced they will resume their application process in the week of 22 March and announced the adjusted deadlines for their funding opportunities. Their approach will be as follows:

  • Ongoing rounds will be completed first and extra priority will be given to the Talent Programmes (Veni, Vidi and Vici). Because applicants heavily rely on these rounds to finance their projects and careers.
  • Calls with an original deadline before 27th of May will be extended for 5 weeks.
  • Calls with deadlines after 27th of May will remain unchanged.
  • Talent Programmes:
    • NWO aims to complete the Vici round (for ENW, AES and SSH) and communicate their decisions by the end of April
    • The interviews for the current Vidi round (for ENW AES and SSH) will have to be rescheduled (expected in May and/or June) aiming for decisions in July.
    • Veni full proposal deadlines will (most probably) be deferred to 2 September with decisions in April 2022.
    • The extensions of these rounds will also impact the next upcoming rounds of funding, more information is expected in April.
  • The Take-Off program will have the following deadline for the full proposal: 8 April.

Are you working on or considering an NWO application? Contact us to find out how this will impact your application.

NWO grants

NWO Domain Science Open Competition

The NWO Domain Science (Exacte en Natuurwetenschappen, ENW) Open Competition (OC) has three instruments, the NWO OC ENW – XS, NWO OC ENW – M and NWO OC ENW – XL. All instruments in the OC ENW are designed to fuel fundamental research in the research fields of the NWO ENW, such as, earth sciences, life sciences, computer sciences and chemistry.

NWO Open Competition, ENW – XS

Available budget: €4 million (for 2020-2021 round)

Maximum subsidy budget: €50,000

Deadlines: 4 deadlines per year: 16 February, 6 May, 14 September, and 26 October in 2021

Consortium: Intended for single applicants

Scope: The NWO OC ENW – XS programme enables innovative, high-risk initiatives in the research areas of the NWO ENW. Although the outcome of the research does not need to be positive or negative, the research itself should be groundbreaking and contribute to the advancement of science, regardless of the end-result. You are the applicant and also an assessor during the ENW – XS assessment process.

NWO Open Competition, ENW – M

Available budget: €30 million (for 2020-2021 round)

Subsidy  per grant type:

M-1: Max €350,000

M-2: max €700,000

M-Invest: €150,000 – 500,000

Deadlines: From 6 August 2020, until grant ceiling of €30 million is reached. From August 2021 the 2021-2022 round will open.

Consortium: Intended for 1 (ENW-M-1) or 2 collaborative scientific positions (ENW-M-2)

Scope: The NWO OC ENW – M programme creates an opportunity for researchers to develop innovative high-risk ideas into scientific innovations that could form the basis for future research themes. For the ENW – M grant, there are three categories tailored to specific applicants: ENW-M-1 (1 scientific position), ENW–M–2 (2 collaborative scientific positions) and ENW-M-invest (investments). The three ENW – M categories will be assessed in mutual competition.

NWO Open Competition, ENW – XL

Available budget: €30 million, (for 2020-2021 round)

Subsidy: ~€2.3 million (approx. 13 approvals)

Deadlines: Pre-proposal 15 April 2021. Full proposal: 23 December 2021

Consortium: Research groups who provide added value through collaboration in comparison to separate ENW-M grants, for example.

Scope: The NWO OC ENW – XL programme is intended to support collaborative research consortia towards conducting excellent, challenging, and fundamental research. The call opens once every two years and uses pre-proposals assessed by expert panels.



NWO Open Technology Programme (OTP)

Subsidy: €550,000

Scope: NWO TTW aims to bring scientific research together with potential users, as to realize knowledge transfer. Criteria are excellent scientific quality and utilization and the call is characterized by an absence of disciplinary boundaries. To assure utilization, a user committee must be installed, consisting of at least four users, of which at least two companies.

Read more about this call or visit the NWO website


Take Off Fase 1: Haalbaarheidsstudie

Subsidy: €20,000 – 40,000

Scope: Take-off is a science-based financing instrument from ZonMw and NWO (Secretariat: Applied and Technical Sciences). Take-off is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Take-off focuses on facilitating and stimulating business and entrepreneurship from Dutch universities and NWO-recognized research institutes. It is about creating innovative new business that follows knowledge development and utilization by researchers at these knowledge institutions. It may be product, process, care or service innovation in the broadest sense of the word, within all fields of science (beta / technique, life sciences and alpha / gamma).

visit the NWO website


Take Off Fase 2: Vroegefasetrajecten

Subsidy: (Loan) €50,000 – 250,000

Scope: In the early stage project, it is about launching the startup based on knowledge innovations from research institutions. An early phase project consists of the steps and activities to make the idea/concept commercially viable, to launch the process or service successfully on the market, to grow the company and that money will be earned. This happens by:

  1. Explain and execute an early phase plan in detail;
  2. Find contact with the stakeholders and future customers who enter the company enable independent growth and success;
  3. When applicable: by developing the concept, product or service so that at the end of the process of others – private or public investors – prepared must be the next stage to finance.

visit the NWO website 


Knowledge and Innovation Convenant (KIC)

The NWO instruments for the Knowledge and Innovation Convenant (KIC) 2020-2023 offers funding for fundamental and applied research in public-private partnerships (PPS). This instrument contains four priorities, for which annually €118 million is reserved:

Focus 1: Mission driven calls: thematic calls with a focus on societal issues are developed each year, with a volume of between €5 – 15 million. Currently, 7 calls are open and additional calls will be announced in autumn 2020.

Focus 2: Demand-driven Public Private Partnerships: A number of research issues from external private and/or public partners are investigated, with a size of between €3-10 million.

Focus 3: Strategic Long-term programs: A limited number of long-term programmes (LTP) will be set up, with a duration of 10 years. Funding for an LTP provides funding for the development of a scientific field focused on a societal theme and/or key technologies.

Focus 4: Practice oriented instruments: enabling practice-oriented researchers to build up innovation networks and collaborate with regional partners and SMEs. Four instruments are part of this priority: Sprong, L.INT, KIEM, and Innovation traineeship.



Catalyze Figure Ovals Lightgray

A must-have if you’re interested in getting your business to the next level