Responsible Innovation. Designing for public values in a digital world

This call opens the way for research finding (technological and institutional) solutions for fundamental value conflicts.


This call is a unique collaboration between The Hague Municipal Council, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Justice and Security, and NWO. 

The research agenda 'Responsible innovation. Designing for public values in a digital world' forms the basis for this call. This agenda is characterised by the interaction between public values and digital technology. The key question is how to ensure public values in digital projects. The agenda consists of four themes, namely:

  1. New digital technology in the modern rule of law
  2. Privacy and human rights in new digital networks
  3. Big Data science for a democratic public space
  4. Complexity as a consequence of hyper-connectivity for public and private actors

Applications focus on one of these themes. 

The aim of the programme is to generate scientific innovative knowledge and insights to strengthen the policy of the partners in the call 'Responsible innovation. Designing for public values in a digital world'. 

The call 'Responsible innovation. Designing for public values in a digital world' is part of 'Responsible Innovation (NWO-MVI). The MVI-approach (, and the call) consists of three pillars: 1. interdisciplinary collaboration, 2. proactive production or design perspective and 3. societal relevance and valorisation. 

Who can apply

Full proposals can be submitted on behalf of consortia with an interdisciplinary composition. Each consortium consists of researchers from the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. Further, each consortium consists of a main applicant, at least one co-applicant and at least one private party who contribute to the project (this is therefore not a main applicant or co-applicant). During the submission of the pre-proposals, at least the main applicant should be known.

Experienced researchers who hold a PhD for at least the duration of the research for which the grant is applied for and are employed by (i.e. have a salaried appointment) at a Dutch university and/or a Knowledge Institute recognised by NWO, can submit an application.

An exception to the required duration of appointment can be made for main applicants with a tenure-track appointment.

A contribution (co-funding) of private parties to the research projects is required. The size of this contribution is at least 10% of the funding requested from NWO and it may consist entirely of an in-kind contribution.

What to apply for

The maximum amount of the financial contribution that can be applied for via NWO for a project is 750,000 euros.

A maximum of one PhD and a minimum of one postdoc may be applied for.  

In addition, funding can be applied for research leave grants for the main and/or co-applicant(s), non-scientific personnel and other scientific personnel at universities, material budget, valorisation/impact and internationalisation. 

When to apply

  • The deadline for submitting compulsory pre-proposals was 19 March 2019 at 14:00 hours CET.
  • The deadline for submitting full proposals was 18 June 2019 at 14:00 hours CEST.




  • Fit within the agenda and objectives of the programme 'Responsible Innovation. Designing for public values in a digital world'
  • Demonstrable experience of the (main) applicant in areas that are relevant for the proposal and the impact of the results
  • Promise of a qualitatively good proposal with societal impact.


  • spread of the pre-proposals across the themes of the research agenda.

Full proposals

The selection committee will test whether the full proposals fit within the agenda and objectives of programme.
The following criteria apply for the assessment:

  • Scientific quality of the research proposal
  • Quality within the framework of the NWO Responsible Innovation programme
  • Relevance and knowledge utilisation.


  • spread of the full proposals across the themes of the research agenda.


Pre-proposals are a mandatory part of the application process. The selection committee gives applicants advice to elaborate their pre-proposal into a full proposal or not. 

The matchmaking on 12 April is compulsory for the applicants who are requested to elaborate their pre-proposal. 

The full proposals will be submitted to independent (inter)national referees to assess the scientific quality and the quality within the framework of the NWO Responsible Innovation programme.
The selection committee will assess the proposals for societal relevance and knowledge utilisation. For each proposal the committee will write a brief written (provisional) assessment.
The anonymised referees' reports and the written assessments from the selection committee will be sent to the (main) applicants. They will receive five working days to give a written response to these reports and assessments. 

The selection committee can decide to interview (main) applicants. 

Based on the proposal, the rebuttal and the possible interview with the (main) applicants, the selection committee will establish a final assessment of the proposals and it will establish a ranking. During this process it will consider the spread of the proposals across the themes of the research agenda. The aim is that at least one proposal is awarded per theme. 

The NWO Social Sciences and Humanities Board takes a final decision about which proposals to award funding based on the advice of the selection committee.

Extra information

The call 'Responsible innovation. Designing for public values in a digital world' is part of the NWO programme 'Responsible Innovation' (NWO-MVI;




Temporarily closed for application


18 June 2019 14:00

Grant type



3,2 million euros

Science area

Social Sciences and Humanities


Responsible innovation


Thematic research and public -private partnership (2015-2018)


The top sectors: Agri&Food, Chemistry, Creative Industry, TKI Gas, Energie HTSM, LSH, Logistics, Horticulture and Starting Materials, Water.


Mw T. Lansbergen +31 (0)70 349 46 18