Cooperation China-The Netherlands (NSFC)

NSFC and NWO invite consortia in which researchers from knowledge institutions from the Netherlands and China work with societal partners from public, semi-public and private organisations, to submit proposals for research on urbanisation and demographic change.


Sustainable urbanisation is crucial to both the Netherlands and China. China and the Netherlands can benefit from each other's strengths in this area to tackle societal challenges in the area of urbanisation research. This collaboration has a high added value for both the Netherlands and China.

Despite the overall decrease in population growth, the process of urbanisation continues at a high pace due to a combination of economic and demographic causes. At the same time, the space for urban expansion is curbed by national policies. The major challenge for both countries is to make cities safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable in the words of the UN, or more poetically to achieve the “Dream of Beautiful China”. 

This requires a new urban research agenda to provide the theoretical and empirical evidence-base for social innovations, that are pathways to the goals specified in the Call for Proposals, such as affordable housing, accessibility of jobs and amenities, the well-being of residents, and safe and secure delivery of facilities such as water and energy. 

Who can apply

Eligible consortia are composed of researchers based in the Netherlands and in China, with active involvement in the project of a senior Principal Investigator (PI) on both the Dutch and the Chinese side. Consortia should span the knowledge chain.

Consortia must include:

  • A senior Dutch Principal Investigator;
  • A senior Chinese Principal Investigator;
  • Co-applicants from multiple Dutch and Chinese (research) institutes;
  • A public, semi-public, or private practitioner partner.

For conditions on who can apply, see section 3.1 of the Call for Proposals. All consortium partners, as well as relevant stakeholders, are expected to be engaged in all phases of the project execution, from its inception to sharing the (emerging) results.

What to apply  for

Consortia can apply for funds for a project with a maximum duration of four years. A maximum of 1 million euros can be applied for from NWO. A maximum of RMB 4 million can be applied for from NSFC. For more information regarding what is available from NSFC and what costs can be reimbursed, please see the Chinese Call for Proposals on the NSFC website. A maximum of two projects will be financed.

The NWO part of the budget is built up using the NWO-wide standardised building blocks, the so-called modules. These modules are described below. In the proposal budget, applicants choose which combination of modules are needed to answer the research question and how often each module will be deployed. The following modules are available for an application within this round:

1. Personnel
2. Material Credit
4. Valorisation/Impact
5. Internationalisation

When to apply

The deadline for this call for proposals was 19 September 2019, 14:00 CEST (NWO)/ 20 September 2019, 16:00 CST (NSFC). 



Applications will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  1. Quality of the research proposal
  2. Quality of the consortium
  3. Potential scientific and/or societal breakthrough

The criteria carry equal weight and each count for one-third of the final assessment. Please see section 4.2.2 of the Call for Proposals for a further breakdown of the criteria.


After the eligibility check, the remainder of the procedure will be conducted through NWO's online system ISAAC. As such, all correspondence regarding input for the procedure will go to the Dutch Principal Investigator.

All eligible proposals will be assessed by external experts (reviewers). These reviewer reports will then be made available to the consortium via the Dutch Principal Investigator. The consortium then has the opportunity to write a response to the reviewers' comments, which must be uploaded via the Dutch Principal Investigator's ISAAC account. 

The application, reviewer reports, and response will then be submitted to an International Advisory Committee (IAC). NWO and NSFC will jointly compose this IAC. All applications are assessed in competition by the IAC, according to the criteria specified in paragraph 4.2.2 of the Call for Proposals. The IAC will formulate a funding advice. The NWO-WOTRO Steering Committee and the board of NSFC will take a provisional decision based on the advice of the IAC regarding the applications to be awarded. The decision is final when both boards have reached the same decision. 

More information

For more information on the conditions for Chinese researchers and submission to NSFC, please see the Chinese call for proposals



Temporarily closed for application


19 September 2019 14:00

Grant type

Cooperation and Exchange


2 miljoen euro

Science area

NWO-wide Social Sciences and Humanities Applied and Engineering Sciences Exact and Natural Sciences


Merian Fund


Nexus (2019-2022)


National Natural Science Foundation of China, Mr XU Jin +86 10 62325351,


Drs. Berry Bonenkamp Drs. Berry Bonenkamp +31 (0)70 3494416