Open Competition Domain Science – XS pakket 21-1

The Open Competition Domain Science – XS grants of a maximum of € 50,000 are intended to support promising ideas and to facilitate innovative and more speculative initiatives within the seven Domain Science disciplines. The proposed research is ground-breaking and high-risk. What counts is that all results, be they positive or negative, must contribute to the advancement of science.

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

  • NWO’s policy towards funding and the impact of the coronavirus


    A number of closing dates for instruments have been changed in the context of the measures relating to the corona crisis. The closing dates stated on this financing page may differ from dates in the brochure of the financing instrument. The information on this page is correct and corresponds to the latest publications in the Government Gazette. Consult for more information about the measures that NWO has taken in the context of the corona crisis.

  • Purpose

    The ENW-XS category is specifically intended to encourage curiosity-driven and bold research that involves the relatively rapid exploration of a promising idea. At the end of the ENW-XS project, researchers can decide for themselves whether or not to pursue this new line of research any further. One way in which this can be done is to submit a proposal within another funding programme in the Open Competition Domain Science (ENW-M and ENW-XL) or elsewhere.

  • Who can apply

    Researchers can submit an application if they:

    • hold a doctorate and/or are professor;
    • and are employed (i.e., hold a salaried position) at a Dutch university or a research institute recognised by NWO;
    • and have an appointment period for at least the duration of the application procedure and the entire duration of the research for which the grant is being applied for.

    ENW-XS is explicitly open for postdocs. Read the conditions in section 3.1 of the call for proposals for the possibilities of requesting your own salary in ENW-XS.

  • What to apply for

    For research proposals in ENW-XS, applicants may apply for sums of up to €50,000.

    There are no requirements concerning the type of research to be conducted. Also, there are very few restrictions on the subjects of proposals. For instance, they could involve the appointment of temporary staff, material costs, the costs involved in performing ‘citizen science’, and travel expenses for commuting to other locations to conduct experiments. Postdocs are permitted to request their own salary What cannot be applied for:

    • basic amenities within the institution (such as a laptop, office furniture, etc.);
    • maintenance costs and insurance expenses;
    • overheadcosts.

    The appointment of PhD students is subject to additional conditions. For details of these conditions, see Annex 6.1 to the call for proposals.

  • When to apply

    Four deadlines for submitting proposals for ENW-XS projects are specified over the period of one year:


    Decision anticipated by

    6 April 2021, at 14:00:00 CEST

    17 June 2021

    10 June 2021, at 14:00:00 CEST

    19 August 2021

    14 September 2021, at 14:00:00 CEST

    28 October 2021

    26 October 2021, at 14:00:00 CEST

    9 December 2021

    Indication of timetable with respect to next deadline*:

    Deadline for submission of proposals      

    6 April 2021, at 14:00:00 CEST

    Week 0

    Assessment of admissibility

    7-13 April 2021

    Week 1-2

    Disclosure of personal interests

    7-26 April 2021

    Week 1-3

    Proposals sent to assessors

    10 May 2021

    Week 5

    NWO receives assessment reports

    7 June 2021, at 14:00:00 CEST

    Week 9

    NWO Domain Science Board reaches a decision

    17 June 2021

    Week 10

    * Because of the measures against the spread of the coronavirus the timetable is longer than usual

  • Assessment


    Innovative aspect

    Is the proposed research innovative, highly speculative, and ground-breaking? Could the research proposal potentially have a scientific impact? Will the proposed research take the applicant down a new path?

    Feasibility of the research plan

    The objective, rationale, and work plan must be clearly described. Can the project be carried out within the maximum period of one year and within the requested budget?

    Proposals must be drawn up with a wide audience in mind, to enable assessors from all Domain Science disciplines to properly evaluate the research plan and the following assessment aspects. The assessors may award a lower ranking to any proposals that are drawn up in a way that is not accessible to those in other disciplines.


    All applications submitted for one of the deadlines are treated as a package. Per package the applications are separated into group A and group B. The applications in group A are assessed by the applicants in group B and the applications in group B are assessed by the applicants in group A. The assessors/applicants within a particular set will not meet to discuss their findings. The NWO office will decide the final ranks of the applications based on the ranks submitted by the assessors. Two final rankings will be established per package; one for group A and one for group B. There will be no opportunity for a rebuttal. The NWO Domain Science Board will decide whether to grant or refuse an application based on the results of the two rankings and the available financial means.

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.