Earth and Life Sciences

NWO funds and facilitates within the Science domain outstanding scientific research in the earth and life sciences.

NWO organises an open competition for the very best research ideas and encourages the research talent of individual researchers in various phases of their career. For the earth and life sciences NWO develops research programmes mainly within the Top Sectors Agri&Food, Water, and Horticulture and Propagation Materials. It also invests in high-quality infrastructure that supports top research.

Broad research area

NWO 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.


Since 1 January 2017 the earth and life sciences belong to the NWO Science domain. Before, that the Division for the Earth and Life Sciences had its own governing Board within NWO since 1998.