Public-Private consortia can apply support for a coherent, multidisciplinary fundamental research project into the genetics and physiology of photosynthesis in higher plants. The ultimate aim of the programme is to contribute to increasing the photosynthesis efficiency in crops under dynamic, natural growing conditions.

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

As a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus, NWO has drafted a guideline to provide applicants with clarity. NWO takes into consideration that under these circumstances it is not always possible that all candidates have an equal opportunity to submit their applications and it is important that we are confident when evaluating applications that we are doing so correctly.

Please note deadline shifts: These rounds, whether ongoing or upcoming, will be frozen and resumed one month after the national measures have been suspended.

For more information about measures for complex rounds, and updates on this temporary guideline go to



The programme aims for plants that show an increased efficiency in utilising the sun's energy through photosyntesis. After millennia of crop breeding the photosynthesis efficiency is still stuck at a few percent at best. NWO developped thgis programme in collaboration with, among others, the topsector Horticulture & Starting Materioals and the Tuinbouw & Uitgangsmaterialen and the Top consortium for Knowledge and Innovation ‘Bio-based economy’ (TKI-BBE).

A consortium consisting of scientists and companies investigates which tresholds keep plants from using a larger fraction of the sun's energy under growing conditions. The ultimate aim is to develop more efficient crops. SUch crops will require less growing space, water, naturition, energy and other inputs. Furhtermore it will enhance the economic feasibility of producting renewable resources in plant for the bio-based economy. 

Who can apply

Applications are submitted on behalf of a consortium that consists of scientists from at least three scientific disciplines, affiliated with at least three NWO-eligible knowledge institutions, together with at least two private partners that contribute financially to the project. One or more public partners may also take part in the consortium. An NWO-eligible researcher at an NWO-eligible knowledge institution acts on behalf of the consortium as the main applicant. 

What to apply for

The NWO budget that can be applied for each application amount to € 1.700.000,-. There is a matching requirement of either 10% or 20%. Depending on the level of private sector matching, the total project budget amount to either € 1.900.000,-. or € 2.125.000,-. The budget can be used for:

  • hiring at least 3 researchers temporarily (a minimum of 1 temporary position for each of the at least 3 (co-)applying knowledge institutions); * material cost;
  • of the material budget, 5% will be set aside to cover costs related to (communication efforts regarding) knowledge utilisation;
  • the module 'Money follows Collaboration';

N.B. On top of the photosynthesis project budget an extra budget of up to € 90.000,-. is available for incorporation of 'Enabling Technologies Hotels', as part of a pilot of the 'ETH-inside' initiative.

225k euro and can be used for one PhD position to be carried out at a public knowlegde institution. In addition, material costs, costs for knowledge utilisation and for the module 'Money follows Collaboration' can, to a minor extend, be part of the project budget. There is a matching requirement. For every project, an cash matching of at least 8% (25k euro) as well as an in-kind matching of at least 12% (37,5k euro) of the total project budget is required. In case the maximum NWO budget is requested, the total project budget will be: 250k (NWO budget) + 25k (cash matching) + 37,5k (in-kind matching) = 312,5k euro

When to apply

The closing date for the submission of proposals was 19 September 2019, 14:00 hrs CE(S)T.



Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Originality and scientific quality (40%);
  • Coherency, of both the project and the consortium, and strategic fit (40%);
  • Knowledge utilisation, value of the project in economic or social terms (20%).  


The procedure comprises the following stages:

  • NWO invites interested parties to a workshop in May to form consortia and shape research proposals;
  • Proposals are submitted in September and are subjected to an administrative/technical screening;
  • At least four foreign expert reviewers per application analyse the proposal and send in their findings;
  • The applicants send in their rebuttal in response to the reviewers' comments;
  • An advisory committee evaluates the proposals, reviews and rebuttals and produces an advice;
  • The Science board decides on funding based on the advisory committee's recommendations.

More information

You can express interest in taking part in the workshop, scheduled to take place in Utrecht on Thursday afternoon the 16th of May, by sending a mail to



Temporarily closed for application


19 September 2019 14:00

Grant type



2.000.000 euro

Science area

Exact and Natural Sciences


People (2019-2022) Research (2019-2022)


Dr. ir. Ansa Baykus-Wasim Dr. ir. Ansa Baykus-Wasim +31(0)70 3494608