Dutch Research Agenda - Theme: Health Inequalities

Health Inequalities - Promoting Health Potential of People with Lower Socioeconomic Status. Relatively large health disadvantages occur among people in a lower socio-economic position. How can this health potential be better addressed and utilized? The thematic program of the National Research Agenda makes € 4,835,000 available for empirical research into promising breakthroughs from a systems approach. A broad, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary consortium that encompasses the entire knowledge chain and within which knowledge institutions, social stakeholders and practitioners work together, can apply for funding for an extensive research program into achieving health benefits and avoiding health loss among people in a lower socio-economic position in society.

  • Why

    The goal of Health Inequalities – Promoting the Health Potential of People with Lower Socioeconomic Status is to perform empirical research in several settings, based on a systems approach that reflects the complexity of health inequalities between groups, examining cross-domain approaches designed to sustainably improve the health of people with lower socioeconomic status.  Consortia that encompass the entire knowledge chain perform interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research to achieve a breakthrough in enhancing health potential among people with lower socioeconomic status.

  • Who can apply

    Consortia composed of knowledge institutions, societal stakeholders and parties from healthcare practice can apply. Consortia encompass the entire knowledge  chain (fundamental, applied and practice-oriented research) and perform interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research. Target groups (and their representatives) must have a role in the consortia.

    We differentiate four categories of participants in the consortium:

    • Main applicant;
    • Co-applicant(s);
    • Co-financier(s);
    • Cooperating partner(s)

    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

    This call consists of three phases:

    • Phase I - preproposal
    • Phase II – full proposal and start of projects
    • Phase III – synthesis project by joint consortia

    For a research proposal in phase II, the maximum that can be applied for is € 1 million for a project with a maximum duration of 48 months. Up to € 835,000 euros will be awarded to a joint synthesis project in Phase III.

    Funding can be requested to cover the following types of costs (modules):

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

    Extensive information about the modules can be found in paragraph 3.2 and 6.1 of the call for proposals.

  • When to apply

    • Only applicants who submitted a pre-proposal in phase I, before 13 April 2021, and  invited by NWO and ZonMw can submit a proposal in this phase.
    • The deadline to submit your full proposal is 28 September 2021, before 14:00:00 CET.
    • Applications should be submitted digitally to ZonMw via ProjectNet.
  • Assessment


    This call for proposals has different assessment criteria for pre-proposals and full proposals in phases I and II, and the application for the joint project in phase III.
    The pre-proposal and full proposal will be assessed against the following three criteria:

    • Quality of the project proposal;
    • Quality of the consortium;
    • Potential scientific and/or societal breakthroughs.

    The criteria will carry equal weighting and each account for one-third of the total assessment. An explanation of the criteria can be found in paragraph 4.2 of the call for proposals.

     NWO will categorise all full proposals in terms of their quality. The applicant will told how their application was categorised when they are informed of the decision on whether to award funding. To qualify for funding, an application must be categorised as at least good. For more information on the quality categories, see: http://www.nwo.nl/kwalificaties.


    Assessment of the quality of the applications is realised through (inter)national peer-review. At least three referees from the different substantive expertise areas will assess the grant applications. In their written rebuttal, the applicants will provide their response to the referees’ assessments. The committee will subsequently rank the proposals and give each proposal a qualification.

    It is important for the Health Inequalities –Promoting the Health Potential of People with Lower Socioeconomic Status programme that each of the full proposals selected has a different focus in terms
    of the domains being investigated and the settings involved, to ensure that the projects are complementary and that there is minimum overlap.

    The assessment committee may therefore consider the complementarity of the selected proposals in its recommendation as to whether a grant should be awarded. In doing so, the assessment committee will use the following procedure:

    1. The provisional ranking will be determined on the basis of criteria I to III in section 4.2.
    2. The assessment committee will consider the following two aspects of complementarity in its recommendation only if more than four applications are deemed to be ‘good’:

    a. the domains to be investigated
    b. the setting in which the research will take place

    This might mean that an application that scores higher is not awarded a grant in order to prevent overlap in terms of domains and/or setting, in favour of an application in a domain and/or setting that scores lower. The purpose is to ensure a good spread of projects across different domains and/or settings.
    The assessment results will be issued in the form of an advice to the NWO Executive Board, which will subsequently take a decision.

  • More information

Please find further application details and forms on the ZonMw program website