Open Mind

Researchers with ideas for improving the world can apply for funding through the Open Mind programme. NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES) is looking for surprising new research ideas that with the use of technology could lead to applications with a societal impact. Researchers are invited to submit out of the box ideas that contribute to sustainable solutions for global societal challenges (along the line with people, planet, profit).


Researchers are often societally involved and full of ideas for improving the world by using technology. The Open Mind programme offers an accessible opportunity to take such ideas to practice. Imagine competing to solve some of the world’s most daunting problems. Imagine using technology to combat disease, improve education, create disaster communication systems, empower people with disabilities, or promote environmental sustainability. The emphasis is on new ideas that have not been investigated yet by the applicants or in the broader research community. Read more about the research ideas that received Open Mind funding in 2015-2017.

Who can apply

Researchers (including scientific personnel, PhD, postdoc) from the following research institutes can apply:

  • Universities established in the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • University medical centres
  • Institutes affiliated to the Academy (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW)) or NWO
  • the Netherlands Cancer Institute
  • the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen
  • the DUBBLE Beamline at the ESRF, Grenoble
  • the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre
  • the Advanced Research Centre for NanoLithography (ARCNL)
  • the Princess Maxima Centre.

What to apply for

NWO domain Applied and Engineering Sciences has a total budget of 250,000 euro available. Five Open Mind grants will receive funding, with a maximum of 50,000 euro (inclusive of Dutch VAT) each for the period of one year.  

Open Mind funds project-specific costs of:

  1. personnel temporarily appointed to the project at the research institute
  2. materials (consumables, small instruments and aids, and domestic travel expenses), 
  3. foreign travel.

When to apply

The deadline for submission of project proposals (including a short movie) was September 3rd, 14:00 hours (Central European Summer Time) 2019.



The research proposal should be in line with the aim of the Open Mind grant and should contribute to solutions for global societal challenges (people, planet, profit). Applications should be characterized by their high-risk profile and unconventional research methods.

Applications are assessed for:

  • Originality
  • Quality of the project plan
  • Urgency
  • Potential impact


NWO Domain AES puts together an independent multidisciplinary Assessment Committee consisting of five to eight members. The members are highly educated and/or experienced people with an affinity for technology development and societal needs. A maximum of fifteen proposals will be selected to be further evaluated by the Assessment Committee at the pitch session during the NWO innovation festival TEKNOWLOGY . Applicants should be present at this conference on November 7th 2019 to pitch and discuss their selected proposal (location to be determined). After the pitch session funding will be awarded at the conference to a maximum of 5 proposals. Applicants who receive funding are requested to present the obtained results at the following annual conference in 2020.



Temporarily closed for application


3 September 2019 14:00

Grant type



50,000 euros for a year

Science area

Applied and Engineering Sciences


Open Mind


Knowledge sharing (2019-2022)


Anne van der Ham, MSc (Programmamedewerker) Anne van der Ham, MSc (Programmamedewerker) +31 (0)30 6001316


Dhr. dr. R. (Rob) Hermans (Programmamedewerker) Dhr. dr. R. (Rob) Hermans (Programmamedewerker) 030 6001 317