Hestia - Impulse for Refugees in Science

A project leader and/or main applicant of a research project already funded by NWO or ZonMw can apply for funding for the appointment of a refugee with an academic background on his/her project for the duration of 18 months. The refugee should have an asylum residence permit as described in chapter 6 of the call for proposals.


This NWO-wide pilot is an impulse to make Dutch science and the academic labour market accessible to refugee academics with demonstrable refugee status. At the same time, these academics will enrich Dutch science with the experience and expertise they bring with them.

By making short-term funding available, NWO will give this group of academics the opportunity to join current Dutch research projects and to build a network. This will give them a chance to actively share knowledge and expertise, and to familiarise themselves with the Dutch scientific system; it will also provide an impulse to resume or continue the career and/or research line that was interrupted in their home country. This funding can therefore provide an entry into Dutch science and thus expand the opportunities for these academics in the longer term. 

The involvement of universities is vital for long-term success. NWO therefore encourages universities to look – for example, within their diversity policy – at options for extending the appointments of successful candidates, or to seek other relevant advancement opportunities.

Who can apply

A project leader and/or main applicant (hereinafter: “applicant”) of a current research project already receiving funding from NWO or ZonMw, at one of the following knowledge institutes: 

  • Universities located in the Kingdom of the Netherlands;
  • KNAW and NWO institutes;
  • the Netherlands Cancer Institute;
  • the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen;
  • researchers working on the DUBBLE Beamline at the ESRF in Grenoble;
  • NCB Naturalis;
  • Advanced Research Center for NanoLithography (ARCNL);
  • Princess Máxima Center for Paediatric Oncology.

Applicants who submitted an application in the 2018 pilot round but were not awarded funding may submit a new application (with the same or with another candidate). Applicants previously awarded funding may also submit a new application. They must of course meet the eligibility requirements as set out in this call for proposals. In order to give opportunities to a new group, successful candidates from the 2018 pilot round are excluded from applications in the 2019 and 2020 rounds.

Please note: a refugee academic (hereinafter: “candidate”) cannot submit an application on their own account. There are no co-applicants in the context of this call.

What to apply for

Funding (for personnel and material costs) can be requested for the appointment of an academic with demonstrable refugee status at the level of junior or senior researcher (candidate) in a current research project already funded by NWO or ZonMw (see Chapter 6 of the call for proposals for the definition of refugee status used here). The maximum amount of funding that can be requested is € 140,000.

Funding is available for an appointment of a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 18 consecutive months at one of the Dutch knowledge institutes listed above. At least the first twelve months of the appointment must fall within the duration of the current project. In the case of a part-time appointment, the maximum 1 fte for 18 months can be requested, to be spread over a maximum of 24 months, and the appointment must be at least 0.6 fte. The earliest possible starting date is expected to be in January 2020.

When to apply

  • The deadline for submission of applications was 14:00 CE(S)T on 10 September 2019.  



The proposals will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Quality of the candidate
  • Motivation of the candidate and relevance to the candidate
  • Quality and feasibility of the proposed project and relevance to the current project
  • Supervision and future prospects of the candidate


The assessment procedure consists of two stages: 1) selection for interview, and 2) interview days with applicants and candidates. The scheduled interview days in November offer room for around 25 interviews. If there is enough space on the scheduled interview days to hold interviews for all admissable applications, no selection for the interview days will take place. 

The assessment will be carried out in full by an assessment committee with broad expertise. No external referees will be involved in this assessment procedure.

Based on the qualifications, the assessment committee will issue a recommendation on whether to accept the applications. The NWO executive board will then consider this recommendation when deciding on the funding applications. With a view to encouraging female researchers, in the event that two applications are rated equally the executive board will give preference to the proposal submitted by a female main applicant and/or candidate. The decision and qualifications are expected to be communicated to applicants by the end of December. 

More information

Are you interested to appoint a refugee with an academic background in your current research project, but are you still looking for a match? You can advertise your project here.

Are you a refugee with an academic background, and are you interested to work in a research project? But are you still looking for a match? You can submit your details to NWO via this interest form.



Carolien Maas-van der Geest, MA Carolien Maas-van der Geest, MA +31 (0)70 3440511 c.maas@nwo.nl


Dr Hayley Mickleburgh Dr Hayley Mickleburgh +31 (0)70 3494196 h.mickleburgh@nwo.nl