The NWO Spinoza Prize is a personal award for top researchers with international reputations. NWO requests selected persons to nominate candidates for this prize. A maximum of four prizes are awarded annually. Each prize amounts to 2.5 million euro to spend on scientific research. As of 2020 it is also possible to nominate teams of two or three researchers.


An NWO Spinoza Prize is an honorary award for what the winners have achieved in their scientific career and an encouragement to continue doing excellent research. In essence the prize works as an impulse for scientific research in the Netherlands.

Who can apply

Nomination can only take place at the invitation of NWO. Candidates themselves are not allowed to submit an application. Each year NWO enables the following persons to nominate candidates:

  • The rectors of universities (a maximum of two nominations each)
  • The president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) (a maximum of two nominations for each domain and the Young Academy)
  • The president of the Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation (a maximum of two nominations)
  • The chair of the Dutch Network of Women Professors (a maximum of two nominations) 

The candidates should hold a permanent position at a Dutch research institute and they must have ample time to continue doing top level research. The nominations including annexes should be written in English.

What can be applied for

The prize amounts to 2.5 million euro per laureate. This amount may be spent (up to a certain point) at the discretion of the recipient. In the financial plan the recipient may include costs of staff, materials, investments, travel expenses and accommodation costs, visits by foreign researchers, etc. 

When can be applied

NWO sends the persons who may nominate candidates a notification of the deadline.



The evaluation and selection of the candidates takes place on the basis of past performance and according to the following criteria:

  • Internationally acknowledged top quality
  • Power of attraction to early career researchers
  • Knowledge exchange and impact (including outreach activities) 

Furthermore, it should be evident that the NWO Spinoza Prize will advance and enhance the research by the candidate.

Additional criterion for nominating a team

When nominating a team of two or three candidates, the added value of the team with respect to the three quality criteria should be demonstrably greater than the sum of the individual contributions of the team members.


The Executive Board of NWO decides to whom the prizes will be awarded at the advice of the Spinoza selection committee. The nomination procedure is strictly confidential; nominated candidates are not to be informed.


Helga Varwijk Helga Varwijk +31 (0)70 3440529 h.varwijk@nwo.nl