NWO Open Competition Domain Science - XL

In the NWO Open Competition Domain Science - XL, consortia of researchers can apply for curiosity-driven, fundamental research in the research fields of the NWO Domain Science (NWO-domein Exacte en Natuurwetenschappen (ENW). Through cooperation consortia create added value compared to separate smaller projects, such as ENW -M grants.


Curiosity-driven, fundamental research is necessary for innovations that make society economically successful and socially resilient. The ENW XL-grant gives researchers the opportunity and freedom to start, strengthen or expand excellent, challenging and innovative lines of research.

Who can apply

A consortium of at least two researchers from different research institutes can apply if the researchers:

  • are employed 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.

For tenure track appointments a letter that guarantees adequate supervision should be provided. Note: Please read the details and additional conditions in the call for proposals carefully

What to apply for

An ENW-XL grant has a minimal size of 1,000,000 euro and a maximum size of 3,000,000 euro. At least four temporary scientific positions should be requested.

When to apply

  • The deadline for submitting pre-proposals is 15 April 2021, at 14:00:00 hours CE(S)T.
  • The deadline for submitting full proposals is 23 December 2021 at 14:00:00 hours CE(S)T.

The call is published once every two years.



Pre-proposals are assessed for:

  1. Scientific quality of the proposal (50%);
  2. Quality of the consortium (50%).

Full proposals are assessed for:

  1. Scientific quality of the proposal (40%);
  2. Scientific and/or societal impact (20%);
  3. Quality of the consortium (40%).


The assessment will take place in two steps: preproposals and full proposals.


Pre-proposals are assessed by cluster assessment committees. When NWO appoints the members of the cluster assessment committees it will do its best to choose experts for the research areas stated by the applicants. The cluster assessment committees select the most promising pre-proposals per cluster via a graded assessment of the assessment criteria. Preproposals are not submitted to referees and therefore no rebuttal is requested. Based on the advice of the cluster assessment committees, the Board of NWO Domain Science decides which proposals can submit a full proposal, and which cannot.

Full proposals

In the second step, 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). All consortia will be invited for an interview with one of the three assessment committees. Subsequently, these assessment committees rank the proposals via a graded assessment of the assessment criteria. A domain-wide assessment committee agrees on a single prioritisation of the proposals and advises the Board of NWO Domain Science about the quality of the proposals. Based on this advice and the available funding, the Board of NWO Domain Science decides which proposals to award.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Full proposals can only be submitted if the pre-proposal has successfully passed the pre-proposal stage (decision by the Board), and on invitation only

More information

Previously, the NWO Open Competition Domain Science - XL programme was known under the name NWO Open Competition Domain Science – GROOT. Below we outline modifications with respect to the assessment procedure of round 2019.


  • The pre-proposal phase includes no longer an interview, nor assessment by a scientific-broad (Domain Science) committee. Instead, pre-proposals are assessed by a cluster assessment committee.
  • The interviews in the full proposal phase are conducted by one of three assessment committees instead of by one scientific-broad committee. A scientific-broad committee subsequently establishes one ranking.

Conditions for applying

  • In ENW-XL round 2021-2022, a researcher may be involved, as main applicant or as co-applicant, in only one ENW-XL grant proposal;

Assessment criteria

  • The criterion “Scientific and/or societal impact” is not considered in the pre-proposal phase, and has been given a lower weigh in the phase of full proposals.



Open for application


15 April 2021 14:00

Grant type



minimum of € 1,000,000 and maximum of € 3,000,000

Science area

Exact and Natural Sciences


Research (2019-2022)


Dhr. dr. ir. R. Achten Dhr. dr. ir. R. Achten +31 (0)70 3494565 ENW-XL@nwo.nl