Earth and Life Sciences
NWO division

Earth and Life Sciences

NWO Earth and Life Sciences (ALW) funds and facilitates outstanding scientific research in the earth and life sciences.

NWO-ALW has developed research programmes related to the key areas of NWO:

•    Water and climate

•    Healthy living

•    Sustainable energy

•    Materials: solutions for scarcity

•    Agro, food and horticulture

NWO-ALW also organises an open competition for the very best research ideas. ALW encourages the research talent of individual researchers in various phases of their career. It also invests in high-quality infrastructure that supports top research.


The NWO organisation is undergoing major changes. One aspect of the new governance is that the current science divisions and foundations of NWO will be clustered into four domains with effect from 1 January 2017. ALW will merge in the Exact and Natural Sciences domain.

Broad research area

ALW uses project and programme funding to facilitate excellent research that contributes to a far-reaching scientific understanding of the earth and life on it. Scientific research in the earth and life sciences is wide-ranging and relevant to current issues.

Earth and life sciences cover all aspects of life on earth such as the complex and dynamic processes in solid earth, the oceans, the atmosphere, the natural world and organisms, including humans. The processes concerned occur at timescales ranging from tens of millions of years in geology to nanoseconds in cell biochemistry.

Progress in earth and life sciences research is accelerating due to developments in satellite technology, deep core drilling, imaging technology and bioinformatics, for example.

NWO-ALW was established in 1998 when Stichting Levenswetenschappen (SLW) and Stichting Geologische, Oceanografische - en Atmosferische wetenschappen (GOA) merged.

Funding instruments

All grants for Earth and Life Sciences


All programmes for Earth and Life Sciences