New NWO-strategy 2019-2022

Connecting Science and Society

12 April 2018

Today, NWO announced its new strategy for the period 2019-2022. The strategic plan describes five ambitions of NWO to facilitate the scientific and societal impact of Dutch research in the coming years. This requires an effective organisation that focuses on the connection within science and between science and society.

The transition that NWO has gone through over the past few years is an initial step in this direction. With this strategic plan, NWO is making a second step that will allow it to flexibly and resolutely anticipate developments in science and society.

Handover New NWO-strategy by Stan Gielen to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van EngelshovenHandover New NWO-strategy by Stan Gielen to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven (credits: Melvin Tas)

Collaboration (...) a superb way of contributing to surprising new insights
- Stan Gielen

‘In the coming years, NWO will facilitate the scientific and societal impact of Dutch research whilst retaining the focus on fundamental research’, says NWO executive president Stan Gielen. ‘If Dutch research is to retain its leading position then, besides a strong disciplinary basis, more collaboration is vital. Collaboration between disciplines, between sectors and throughout the knowledge chain is a superb way of contributing to surprising new insights.’

NWO's plans translate into five ambitions.

Nexus role: connecting agendas, science and society

NWO will ensure increased coordination in Dutch science so that a national research strategy can be developed, including a regularly updated Dutch National Research Agenda. In this, thematic and curiosity-driven research will be kept in balance. NWO will facilitate self-organisation in the scientific field and will also clearly involve societal parties and citizens in the programming and realisation of research. NWO will continue to proactively seek the connection with international, and especially European, science policy. NWO will make an active contribution to Science Diplomacy.

People: perspective for researchers

Good research requires good researchers. NWO will ensure that researchers in the Netherlands can continue to develop in all phases of their career. The renowned Talent Scheme (Rubicon, Veni, Vidi, Vici) will be supplemented with instruments that will enable talented researchers to continue working on existing research with a longer duration, whether alone or with a team. Furthermore, the NWO Open Competition for curiosity-driven research will be given a modular structure.

NWO will expand the 'Money Follows Researcher' scheme and it will establish the Huygens Professorship to attract excellent senior scientists to the Netherlands. NWO will also tackle important bottlenecks such as the Matthew effect and the high application pressure.

Research: collaboration for excellence and innovation

Fundamental research forms the basis for excellence and innovation. Consequently, curiosity-driven and fundamental research will remain an important focus for NWO with programmes for high-risk pioneering research. NWO will place an even greater emphasis than in the past on team science and collaboration across the breadth of science with opportunities for a broad knowledge chain approach in which fundamental, strategic, practice-oriented and applied research will be connected with each other. Non-scientific parties will also have the opportunity to be involved in realising research in these programmes.

The NWO institutes fulfil a national role as centres for collaboration for strategically important subjects. Open Science will remain the norm in all of these initiatives.

Infrastructure: accessible and sustainable scientific infrastructure

Research infrastructure plays an important role in all areas of science In this regard, not just the 'hard' equipment and ICT facilities are important but also the technical support and a professional environment where brainpower is concentrated and people meet NWO believes it has an important task in funding large-scale research facilities and making these available to Dutch researchers. The NWO institutes continue to play a major role as the host or point of entry to large national and international research infrastructure. Furthermore, NWO wants to draw up a national investment agenda together with universities and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Knowledge sharing: effective use of knowledge through co-design and co-creation

NWO wants to facilitate knowledge sharing by increasing the collaboration with users. In doing so, NWO will further build upon the experience of various NWO units. Applicants will be requested in advance to reflect on the possible societal impact of their research. NWO will extend the programme Industrial Doctorates that is aimed at collaboration between knowledge institutions and companies. Analogous to this, the programme Societal Doctorates will be established for collaboration with public partners. A proof-of-concept grant will be established that will allow researchers to explore the societal potential of research previously funded by NWO.

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Source: NWO