Thematic research and public-private partnership

Thematic research and public-private partnership

NWO subscribes to the governments vision that Dutch research can do more to contribute to welfare and prosperity. The impact of research can grow by joining forces and by linking fundamental, practically oriented and applied research to a greater extent. Joint programming and collaboration among researchers and parties outside of academia support this. NWO considers the encouragement of productive links between science, the business community and other parts of society to be one of its objectives.

With thematic programmes, NWO funds scientific research that contributes to solutions to social, economic and cultural issues. With these programmes, NWO also directly contributes to the sharing and use of scientific knowledge. NWO also applies a focused knowledge utilisation policy that supports the necessary interaction and cooperation between scientists and stakeholders in society, including businesses.

Top sectors

Since 2012, NWO contributes actively in the government's top sector policy, which encourages collaboration among businesses, researchers and the government within nine sectors. NWO brings the various parties together to develop research programmes. Each year, NWO spends € 275 million of its own resources in research that benefits the strategic agendas of the top sectors, of which approximately € 100 million in Public Private Partnership. The NWO contribution to the top sectors in the years 2016-2017 will be announced on the website around October-November 2015 in the form of work programmes.

Dutch National Research Agenda

NWO is aware that the urgent challenges the Netherlands faces must be addressed in partnership with the entire scientific community. The framework for this is the Dutch National Research Agenda, the secretariat of which is based at NWO.

25 routes

In November 2015 the Dutch National Research Agenda was launched presenting the 140 cluster questions and 16 example routes. A ‘route’ is a selection of interrelated cluster questions concerning a complex theme. The routes were selected by the Knowledge Coalition for their relevance to society, the economy, and science itself. In the first half of 2016 9 additional routes were added to the existing routes, and a series of ‘route workshops’ were held to explore interdisciplinary and multisector collaboration on the complex route themes.

Portfoilio for research and innovation

The results of the 25 routes were presented in the Portfolio for research and innovation have been used by the Knowledge Coalition as input for an investment agenda advocating for integrated science, technology and innovation policy. The Investment agenda was presented to the Dutch government on 15 September 2016.

Since then diverse and broad networks of researchers, companies, NGO’s, policy makers and other stakeholders have formed in these routes. During 2017 all routes have worked together on how to work together on these new and game changing topics for science and innovation.


Investment agenda

Together with its partners in the Knowledge Coalition and with the assistance of experts from knowledge institutions, civil society organisations and industry, NWO has worked to develop this agenda into an Investment Agenda.

The Investment agenda is build up around two components:

  1. ‘Potential’ or ‘spankracht’ (thematic priorities)
  2. ‘Carrying capacity’ or ‘draagkracht’ (addresses the importance of maintaining and expanding a solid knowledge base across the full spectrum of scientific research.

The thematic research activities can draw on these. On 15 September, the Knowledge Coalition presented the Investment Agenda, with a plea for a further annual investment of at least one billion.

Knowledge Coalition

The Knowledge Coalition consists of the most important Dutch knowledge-based institutions for scientific research in The Netherlands: KNAW, MKB Nederland, NFU, NWO, TO2, Vereniging Hogescholen, VNO-NCW en VSNU.

Internationalisation of themes

Besides linking national agendas, NWO is also active in the international area. Many societal challenges are transnational or even global and cannot be resolved solely within the Netherlands. In order to strengthen the alignment with international developments, NWO seeks to have an international component in all of the thematic programmes. NWO does this in collaboration with research councils in countries with areas of expertise that are relevant to the Netherlands.