Dutch Research Agenda - Research along routes by Consortia 2020/21 (NWA-ORC 2020/21)

Consortia that are interdisciplinary and cover the full breadth of the knowledge chain are invited to submit research proposals that express the broad and innovative character of the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA).

Please note change in call planning

Due to a hack of the NWO networkserver the grant procedure was suspended from 13 February to 22 March. NWO has published a new integral call planning. Please note: The deadlines in the Call for Proposals (pdf) have not been updated. 

Resumption of grant procedure FAQs

Proposals should fall within one or more NWA routes and address one or more of the 140 cluster questions. The starting point for this is the Portfolio for Research and Innovation.

All submitted initiatives in the ORC 2020/21 round can be found on: Initiatieven wetenschapsagenda.

To be able to submit a full proposal, main applicants should have submitted a pre-proposal before 14 January 2021.

  • Purpose

    The aim of the NWA-ORC 2020/21 call for proposals is to encourage research and innovation focused on the portfolio of 25 routes and the 140 corresponding cluster questions in the NWA. This research will be set up and carried out by interdisciplinary consortia that will include representatives from the full breadth of the knowledge chain as well as relevant societal partners, including industry. The added value of the consortium will be evidenced by the joint approach to the research, with the individual strengths and expertise of each participant demonstrably reinforcing those of the others. Which knowledge partners are involved and which societal partners are relevant will depend on the objectives of the project.

  • Who can apply

    Proposals should be submitted by a consortium in which the various types of research in the knowledge chain (fundamental, applied and practice-oriented) must be represented. There are four categories of participant within a consortium:

    • Main applicant;
    • Co-applicant(s);
    • Co-funder(s)
    • Cooperating partner(s) (optional)

    The main applicant submits the application on behalf of the consortium. More information about the four categories of participants as well as specific requirements regarding who can apply, can be found in paragraph 3.1 of the call for proposals.

  • What to apply for

    In this round, proposals can be submitted in the following budget ranges: 

    • 500,000 – ≤ 2,000,000 euros;
    • > 2,000,000 – ≤ 5,000,000 euros;
    • > 5,000,000 – ≤ 10,000,000 euros.  

    The budget range is determined by the funding requested from NWO. The budget is built up using the NWO-wide standardised building blocks, the so-called modules. Seven modules are available in this call:  

    • Personnel costs;
    • Material costs;
    • Investments;
    • Knowledge utilisation;
    • Internationalisation;
    • Money follows Collaboration;
    • Programme management.   

    Extensive information about the modules can be found in annex 6.2 of the call for proposals. 


    Co-funding is obligatory in each proposal. The participating co-funders should jointly contribute at least 10% of the total project budget in the form of co-funding, either in-cash or in-kind.   The conditions regarding co-funding can be found in paragraph 3.5 of the call for proposals. 

  • When to apply

    The NWA-ORC 2020/21 funding round has three phases and therefore has three deadlines.

    • The deadline for online submission of an initiative via the NWO-website is on 1 October 2021  at 14:00:00 CEST.

    Submitting an initiative is required to be able to submit a pre-proposal. After submission of the initiative, the main applicant - or another participant in the consortium - has to take part in a matchmaking event of the indicated primary NWA-route.

    • The deadline for submission of pre-proposals is on 14 January 2021 at 14:00:00 CET. A pre-proposal may only be submitted if an initiative has previously been submitted.
    • The deadline for submission of full proposals is on 7 October 2021 at 14:00:00 CEST. A full proposal may only be submitted if a pre-proposal has previously been submitted.
  • Assessment


    Pre-proposals will be assessed against the following two criteria:

    1. Alignment with the objectives of the NWA-ORC programme (weighting 75%)
    2. Scientific importance of the proposed project (weighting 25%)

    Full proposals will be assessed against the following three criteria:

    1. Alignment with the objectives of the NWA-ORC programme (weighting 33.3%)
    2. Quality of the consortium (weighting 33.3%)
    3. Quality of the research proposal (weighting 33.3%)

    Each assessment criterion consists of several subcriteria. More information the criteria can be found in paragraph 4.2 of the call for proposals.


    The initiatives will not be assessed.

    The assessment procedure has two phases: pre-proposals and full proposals.

    Pre-proposals are allocated across various clusters. A selection committee is set up for each cluster. Each selection committee assesses and prioritises the proposals in its own cluster without consulting external referees. As a result, each pre-proposal receives a reasoned non-binding advice as to whether it should be elaborated into a full proposal. This means that consortia that receive a negative advice may still submit a full proposal.

    Full proposals will be assessed in various clusters as well, with each cluster having its own selection committee. The full proposals are submitted to referees for assessment. Applicants will subsequently be given the opportunity to respond in writing to the anonymised referees' reports (the rebuttal). The full proposals together with the referees' comments and the rebuttals will subsequently be submitted for assessment to the selection committee. The selection committee will rank the proposals per cluster. Based on this ranking, the consortia of the highest ranked proposals in each cluster are invited for an interview with the selection committee. After the interviews, the selection committee reranks the proposals based on the proposal, the referee comments, the rebuttal and the interview, coming to a final ranking for each cluster.

    The rankings of the separate cluster committees will then be submitted to a broad, science-wide committee composed of delegations from the various cluster committees. Based on the independent cluster rankings drawn up after the interviews, the broad committee draws up a single final ranking.

    The final ranking will be submitted to the NWO executive board. The executive board will marginally test the procedure and will take the final granting decision.

    More information about the timetable and procedure can be found in paragraph 4.1 of the call for proposals.

You will find all of the documents that you need for your application here. Applications must be submitted through the ISAAC application and reporting system. If you do not have an ISAAC account yet, then please create one at least one workday in advance. More information about writing a proposal and which forms you need to use can be found below. Please download and use the forms below.

  • Fill in forms

    A main applicant can only submit a full proposal if a pre-proposal was submitted before 14 January 2021. The forms and formats for attachments for the full proposal will be available online around in June 2021.

    Due to the upcoming indexation of the VSNU and NFU rates, the budget form will be placed online in the course of August 2021. The budget form will then contain the correct rates.

    To be able to submit a full proposal, main applicants should have submitted a pre-proposal before 14 January 2021.

    Preparing a full proposal

    • Download the application form 
    • Complete the application form and save it as a pdf file


    The following annexes are permitted when submitting the full proposal:

    • the budget sheet
    • letters of support from co-funders
    • letters of commitment from cooperation partners (optional)
    • the response form for replying to the selection committee’s comments on the pre proposal 
    • confirmation of contribution to investment (if requested)
  • E-learning and consultation hour for applicants full proposal

    Has your consortium been invited to submit a full proposal? Then you can receive extra support from NWO in developing the impact approach in the application.

    NWO offers:

    • An e-learning (see Impact.nwo.nl)
    • An online consultation hour

    It is not mandatory to make use of the e-learning or consultation hour. However, NWO strongly advises you to do so. After all, the elaboration of the Impact Approach will be taken into account when evaluating your full proposal.  

    • You follow the e-learning (with your consortium partners) at a time that is most convenient for you. The e-learning assists you in applying the Impact Plan Approach and Impact Outlook Approach used throughout NWO (see https://www.nwo.nl/en/knowledge-utilisation).
    • You must register in advance for the online consultation hours. Each consortium can book a time slot of thirty minutes. You and your consortium partners will then have the opportunity to ask an NWO employee specific questions about, for example, the concepts used or the process of drawing up the impact approach. (Please note! No assessment of draft proposals on the impact components).
    • The e-learnings will be available at Impact.nwo.nl in early July.
    • The consultation hours can be booked via an online scheduling tool. (Consortia that have been invited for a full proposal will receive the links to the tool. There are different dates for Impact Outlook Approach and Impact Plan Approach).

    For more information, please contact the coordinator of the NWA-ORC: Varsha Kapoerchan, nwa-orc2020@nwo.nl

Due to a networkhack the grant procedure of NWO, including NRO and SIA, has been at a standstill from 13 February to 22 March 2021. NWO has updated the information on the website about the calls and the new deadlines. The deadlines in the Call for Proposals (pdf) have not been updated yet.

  • The deadline for online submission of an initiative was 1 October 2020 at 14:00:00 CEST.

Preparing your application

  • Do you already have an ISAAC account?


  • Have you completed the application form for pre-proposals and saved it as a pdf?
  • Have you included the form 'Confirmation of competent body?
  • Have you included the statement of intent of all co-funders?

Full Proposal

  •  Have you completed the application form for  fullproposals and saved it as a pdf?
  • Is the budget sheet included?
  • Are the letters of support from co-funders included?
  • Have you included the response form for replying to the selection committee’s comments on the pre-proposal?
  • Do not forget to add the confirmation of contribution to investment (if investments are requested)
  • Are the letters of commitment from cooperation partners included (optional)?