Start Pilot Industrial Doctorates to facilitate doing a PhD in industry

9 October 2017

On 9 October 2017, NWO started the pilot programme Industrial Doctorates. This programme is aimed at facilitating collaboration between knowledge institutions and industry, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular. Within the programme, a candidate PhD student carries out his or her research at both the knowledge institution and the participating company.

PhD student working at an SME (credits: Shutterstock)

SMEs are an important driver of innovation within industry. At an SME in particular, an Industrial Doctorate can contribute to the transfer and direct application of scientific knowledge. Accordingly, this increases the impact an application has in everyday practice. Proposals can be submitted until 16 January 2018. Industry, the university and NWO will all contribute to a total budget of about 10 million euros.


Collaboration between companies and knowledge institutions increases the chances of knowledge actually being implemented. Collaborations and knowledge transfer in public-private partnerships (PPP) are now common practice within all NWO domains. This Industrial Doctorates call offers the opportunity for a different approach that is even more focused on talent development and that assumes further deepening through more intensive bilateral collaboration with a single company (even if a knowledge institution and company are embedded in a larger PPP or several PPPs). Furthermore, it is a collaboration in which the candidate PhD student takes centre stage as a talent.

For who

The Industrial Doctorates programme is open to both young talented candidates who have recently obtained their master's degree (or are about to obtain it), as well as for talents who are already working at the partner company and still want to gain their doctorate. Candidates can come from any scientific domain and participation is not limited to industry.

Dutch National Research Agenda

The programme is part of the Starting Impulse that was announced by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in September 2016. The Starting Impulse is intended to realise the Dutch National Research Agenda by making funds available for:

  • Thematic research;
  • The appointment of 100 female professors (Westerdijk Talent Scheme);
  • Broad knowledge exchange and impact, especially via the Industrial Doctorates programme


The NWO grant budget available for this programme is at most 3.4 million euros. The grant is available for projects in which a PhD student will do his or her doctoral research on the basis of colocation. This means that the research will be carried out within the knowledge institution as well as the participating company. By asking the contributions from the participating knowledge institutions and companies, a joint effort will be made to realise a programme with a budget of about 10 million euros. As this grant is still a pilot, only one funding round will be held for the time being.


The deadline for submitting proposals is 16 January 2018, 14:00 CE(S)T.

Further information

Source: NWO