NWO is changing. The biggest change is that once the new NWO Act becomes effective on 1 February 2017, NWO will have a structure with an Executive Board, a separate NWO Institutes Organisation (Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes) and three domains that are closely connected with each other: Sciences (former EW, CW, ALW, N/FOM); Applied and Engineering Sciences (former TW/STW) and Social Sciences and Humanities (former MaGW en GW). The intention is for NWO and the current ZonMw to integrate into a new organisation with effect from 1 January 2019. ZonMw will then become the Health Research and Development domain. The chair of ZonMw will, however, be a full member of the Executive Board of NWO with effect from 1 February 2017.
Equipped for the future
The new NWO will be more flexible, more effective, and more focussed on collaboration, which means it will be in a better position to respond to developments in science and society. With a view to a single NWO organisation, an important aim of the transition is to work more across disciplinary boundaries from a single coherent programming. Moreover, even more so than in the past, NWO has the ambition to play an agenda determining role within Dutch science policy. This transition ensures that the new NWO will also remain well equipped in the future to perform its key tasks: funding and renewal of scientific and applied research in the Netherlands and the governance and management of national research institutes.
The Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes will provide support for the eight NWO institutes and research centre ARCNL and will closely collaborate with the domains. It is positioned under the Executive Board. Since 1 January 2017, the Institutes Organisation has accommodated the former FOM Institutes AMOLF, DIFFER, Nikhef and research centre ARCNL. From 2018, the remaining NWO institutes ASTRON, CWI, NIOZ, NSCR and SRON will also be accommodated in the Institutes Organisation.
In the report 2025 - Vision for Science, choices for the future, the Dutch government stated that the basic position of Dutch science is good. The Netherlands can be proud of its research and its researchers. However, additional collaboration and connection are needed to maintain a leading scientific position and to further increase the contribution to society. This starting point was the guiding principle for the NWO strategy 2015-2018 and – following on from this – for the new governance and organisation of NWO. The new organisational model was realised based on a broad discussion with researchers and partners of NWO.