Executive Board

In the new structure, the decision-making takes place at the top of the organisation in an Executive Board (EB). This collegial board is in close contact with the domains and institutes. This is safeguarded by the fact that the Executive Board, besides a full-time President and a full-time Portfolio Holder Operations and Finances, consists of four active researchers. In addition to being a member of the Executive Board, each of these researchers is also chair of one of the domain boards.

The members of the Executive Board jointly bear overall responsibility for the strategy, governance, policy and management of the institutes and the operational management of NWO, including the programming, instrumentation and the allocation of budgets. This responsibility also includes an honest, transparent and fair system of granting and good connections between the domains and between the domains and the institutes.

The remaining tasks of the Executive Board are:

  • The appointment of the domain boards, the directors of the domains and institutes, and the members of the Advisory Boards;

  • Transparently determining the allocation of the budget across the domains and the long-term basic budgets for the institutes;

  • The approval of the budgets and the financial accountability of the domain boards and institutes;

  • Bearing responsibility for the programming and funding of broad cross-domain initiatives that have been initiated or approved by the Executive Board.

Read more:
Composition of the Executive Board
Newsarticle: Stan Gielen appointed as President of the Executive Board of NWO

Supervisory Board

The Supervisory Board has the general task of providing the Executive Board with solicited and unsolicited advice about the policy realised by the Executive Board. The Supervisory Board can support the Executive Board, but when necessary, it can also act as a counterweight. The guiding principles for the tasks realised by the Supervisory Board are the statutory organisational objectives of NWO.

Institutes Organisation

With effect from 1 January 2017, NWO will have an Institutes Organisation (Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes), positioned under the Executive Board. The eight NWO institutes (AMOLF, ASTRON, CWI, DIFFER, NIOZ, NSCR, Nikhef and SRON) and research centre ARCNL will be accommodated within this organisation. On 1 January 2017, the Institutes Organisation contained the institutes AMOLF, DIFFER, Nikhef and research centre ARCNL. The remaining institutes will join on 1 January 2018.

The Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes consists of two parts:

  • the eight NWO institutes and research Centre ARCNL;

  • Institutes Organisation Office, from which the supporting services will be coordinated.

The foundation board is responsible for the overall functioning of the Institutes Organisation. The director of the NWO Institutes Organisation Office is the secretary to the foundation board. The foundation board forms a personal union with the Executive Board of NWO.


The former NWO science divisions have been clustered into domains, which ensures greater efficiency and encourages more discipline-wide collaboration:

At present, ZonMw is still independent, although the chair of ZonMw is already a full member of the Executive Board. The intention is to integrate ZonMw and NWO with effect from 1 January 2019, at which point ZonMw will become the Health Research and Development domain. The domains are responsible for the primary processes of granting, policy development and playing a brokering role within the research field. Each domain has its own board, appointed by the Executive Board of NWO. The chair of the board is also a member of the Executive Board of NWO. The domain board is responsible for the formulation and realisation of the policy within the domain.


Executive Board Office

A new element within the organisation is the Executive Board Office, which is a compact supporting staff office. The Executive Board Office essentially fulfils a brokering role and has close ties with the domains, the operational management departments and the Institutes Organisation. In addition, the office advises the Executive Board with respect to strategic, integral and budgetary issues in relation to external developments in science and society. The head of the Executive Board Office is the secretary to the Executive Board.

Advisory Board

A broad Advisory Board will also be appointed for the dialogue with society and the multidisciplinary alignment. The Advisory Board should become a sounding board for society and will be requested to provide input for the development of the NWO-wide strategy and policy choices. The Advisory Board will consist of about ten people from society who are involved in science and research and their impact. They will not be invited to join the Advisory Board as a representative of their organisation, but based on their individual expertise and experience.