Objectives NWO 2015-2018

Stable course with a new focus

NWO has consulted with many parties in order to draw up the 2015-2018 strategy. Researchers and universities, government ministries, companies and civil society organisations have participated in the thought process concerning what is required to achieve the best science in an optimum science system and what NWO's role in this should be.


Priority areas

In the period 2015 - 2018, NWO in general continued its policy and funding instruments, with emphasis on the following three priority areas:

i. Collaboration within the sciences

ompetition and the development of individual talent are important principles  in the current NWO policy. In the coming years, NWO will in addition place more emphasis on promoting collaboration within science. Collaboration contributes  to mutual inspiration, novel perspectives and to the robustness of research. Collaboration will be encouraged at all levels by means of programming and funding: within research groups, between scientists from various disciplines, research institutes and across national borders.

ii. Consolidating scientific strengths to face societal challenges

Consolidating strengths at the national level for research into societal challenges – including economic challenges – increases the effectiveness and impact of research, especially in international collaboration. Wherever stronger connections can provide added value, NWO will initiate these. NWO will contribute actively to the drafting of a Dutch Science Agenda as well as to its implementation, most importantly through NWO’s thematic research policy.  Likewise, NWO will promote connections between fundamental science and use-inspired research.

iii. Organisation and strategy development within the sciences

The Netherlands profits from scientists and other parties organising themselves effectively and developing joint strategies for specific scientific fields, both nationally and internationally. Based on the embedding of all scientific disciplines in NWO, and with the deployment of a wide network, NWO will support the organisation of scientists both within and between disciplines. Within academia, but also between academia, government, the business community and other societal parties.

Key areas

Talent and curiosity-driven research

NWO seeks to provide plenty of opportunities for scientific creativity and unrestrained science. By encouraging innovative research, new lines of research arise that sometimes lead to surprising and even groundbreaking results. Therefore NWO provides funds for curiosity/driven research and talented scientists.


Thematic research and public-private partnership

With thematic programmes, NWO funds scientific research that contributes to solutions to social, economic and cultural issues. With these programmes, NWO also directly contributes to the sharing and use of scientific knowledge. NWO also applies a focused knowledge utilisation policy that supports the necessary interaction and cooperation between scientists and stakeholders in society, including businesses.

International collaboration

Science is international: researchers work together with professional peers from other countries; talented researchers seek opportunities abroad and, conversely, foreign researchers find places in the Netherlands. NWO's international policy focuses mainly on research areas in which the Netherlands is a strong contributor internationally or in which scientific strengths elsewhere have a lot to offer to the Netherlands. NWO’s efforts toward internationalisation in the coming years can be summarised in three words: facilitating, connecting and influencing. 

Large research facilities

Good research facilities are essential for top research. High-value equipment and research facilities are the source of new science. Once such facilities are present, they often turn out to function as flywheels for new and interesting research topics. Therefore NWO structurally invests in high-value equipment and data collections.

NWO-I, Institutes Organisation of NWO

On 1 January 2017, the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) became the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I). NWO-I, the Institutes Organisation of NWO, works closely with the NWO domains and encompasses the former FOM institutes AMOLF, DIFFER and Nikhef, research centre ARCNL and the over 200 university workgroups from the former FOM projects. On 1 January 2018, the other NWO institutes merged with NWO-I: ASTRON, CWI, NIOZ, NSCR and SRON. The office of NWO-I supports all institutes.