From the chair of NWO Domain Science - 1

'The 2018 Open Competition – the last edition of the open competitions of the ‘old’ NWO ‘gebieden’ – has attracted more than twice the number of applications compared to previous years. This leads to a disappointingly low granting percentage of 14 (averaged). It is a one-off effect of the transition to the new, domain-wide Open Competition, which has been open since August 1. The total budget available for the new open competition has increased by 30 percent compared to previous years.'

Dear colleagues,


As you all know, on May 1 this year ENW closed all previously existing versions of open competition. Until then these were still organised according to the old ’gebieden’ as they existed in pre-transition NWO. All of these have been replaced by the single new NWO-ENW Open Competition, which does not have barriers between disciplines. As from August 1 the new Open Competition is open. In the new NWO strategy, starting with budget year 2019, an effort was made to increase budget for the Open Competition, resulting in an overall 30 percent increase.

Niek Lopes Cardozo, acting chair of the Board of NWO Domain Science.  Photo: Bram Saeys.Niek Lopes Cardozo, acting chair of the Board of NWO Domain Science. Photo: Bram Saeys.

There has been ‘bank run’ on the open competition 2018, possibly due to the deadline effect. The number of applications is more than double compared to  previous years. This will unavoidably result in a success-rate of only 14 percent, averaged over all competitions. We realise fully that is bad news for all involved: the applicants in the first place, the referees and assessment committees, while it also puts a heavy load on the organisation.

We expect that this will lead to some grumbling in the field. This is understandable: nobody is happy with the situation. However, I should like to point out:

*We will award the same number of projects this year as could have been expected;

*The new, substantially augmented budget is available for the new Open Competition that opened on 1 August – with first awards expected in early 2019.

The ENW Board did anticipate that the current situation might arise. But we did not have possibilities to avoid it.

It does imply that we have a larger than normal number of proposals with an excellent score that cannot be granted at this point. Again, nobody is happy with the situation. However, these scientific ideas will remain excellent and submission in the new Open Competition is encouraged.

We expect that the 2018 flood of proposals and resulting low granting rate is a one-time effect of the transition. We hope for your understanding: 2019 will be much better, for all of us.


Niek Lopes Cardozo, acting chair of the Board of NWO Domain Science