NWO in transition

On 1 January 2017, the activities of Technology Foundation STW were incorporated in the new NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES). The change was part of an NWO-wide transition. During this process, the science divisions and foundations were clustered into three domains: Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES), Science, and Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). The NWO institutes were joined in a separate unit.
The starting point was that during the transition period, the granting system would remain intact, just like - in the case of STW - the active stimulation of valorisation before, during and after the completion of projects and programmes. The budgets of the current foundations were transferred to the associated domains, as a result of which the award rates initially remained the same.
The aim of this reorganisation was to create a more effective NWO organisation with a greater multidisciplinary focus. The new NWO would focus more on collaboration, would respond more flexibly to developments in science and would strengthen collaboration within science and with society.

Funding instruments

In the new NWO, the funding instruments from the separate NWO units would be better aligned with each other and merged where possible. For researchers, it had to be clearer whom within NWO they could approach with their ideas.
The current funding instruments would continue to exist until stated otherwise. Changes would be announced at least six months in advance via the NWO website and newsletters. The STW grants awarded before 1 January 2017 would remain valid for the entire duration of the project concerned as equally the conditions attached to these.


The NWO transition emerged from the Vision for Science of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. On 25 November 2014, the Ministry presented 2025 - Vision for Science choices for the future, with as an annex an advisory report that contained recommendations for changes to the organisational structure of NWO. 


In the new structure, decisions are made at the top of the organisation by an executive board that functions on a collegiate basis. This board has close relationships with the operational units of the organisation because the four active researchers who are members of the executive board are also the chairs of the domain boards and ZonMw.


In May 2015, NWO formed a Steering Group Transition chaired by Roelof de Wijkerslooth. NWO also appointed Wim van Saarloos as the programme director. The task of the programme director Transition was to realise the preparations for implementing the organisational changes.

The first step in this direction was drawing up an action plan. That plan served as a timetable for how NWO would realise a further elaboration of the contours that were announced in April 2015. This plan was realised in consultation with many people within and outside of NWO, so that an in-depth analysis could be made of all aspects and consequences of the transition. The action plan and its summary were completed in October 2015.

An important part of the actual transformation was the establishment of 15 workgroups that elaborated parts of the main design for the new NWO. The workgroup members were people involved with NWO, and this provided the necessary opportunities for NWO stakeholders to contribute ideas.

Integral plan

In January 2016, the workgroups completed their tasks and published their advice. The advice was incorporated in an integral main design that was approved by the Steering Group Transition in March 2016. Under the leadership of Wim van Saarloos, NWO presented this integral plan. The Integral Main Design and Plan NWO described the contours for establishing the governance, operational management, the new domains, and the new institutes organisation.

The integral plan was elaborated into a detailed design, after which operational management and organisation were made ready for the start of the new NWO on 1 January 2017.