More than 100 million euros for groundbreaking fundamental research

30 August 2019

Six consortia with top researchers from different Dutch universities have received a total of 113.8 million euros to carry out scientific research programmes in the coming years. The Minister for Education, Culture and Science (OCW), Ingrid van Engelshoven, made these funds available for research consortia that are among the best in the world in their field in carrying out groundbreaking research.

The research programmes awarded funding concern research into complex brain disorders at the molecular and cellular level, strengthening agricultural crops to tackle the challenges of sustainable food production, a radical new approach to mental diseases to realise a healthy society, measuring and explaining the effects of the environment on our health (the so-called "exposome"’), the development of a system for artificial intelligence (AI) in which people take centre stage (hybrid intelligence) and a new approach for investigating the development of disruptive technologies.

Innovative scientific research

With the funding, researchers will be able to collaborate in top-level, multidisciplinary university research for a period of ten years.

The contribution is part of the programme Gravitation, which is funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The Dutch Research Council (NWO) selects the research groups on behalf of the Ministry. One of the pillars of the programme is the collaboration across disciplines and universities. The researchers jointly set up excellent research programmes. The last awards were in 2017.

The Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven: 'I congratulate the six research groups with the awarding of the Gravitation grant, a programme that is intended for excellent researchers who do interdisciplinary research in a team. I wish them every success with their research that will hopefully lead to breakthroughs.'

Explicit attention was paid to facilitating the careers of mid-level career researchers
- NWO president Stan Gielen

NWO president Stan Gielen is very pleased with the mix of younger and more senior researchers in the research groups. β€˜In this round, explicit attention was paid to facilitating the careers of mid-level career researchers by asking the consortia to submit a separate plan concerning this. Consequently, the consortia are on average somewhat younger in composition than was the case in previous years.’ Besides researchers already working in the consortia, an average of 36 new PhD students, 14.5 postdocs and 1.5 tenure-track researchers will be appointed per project.  

Selection procedure

NWO received 34 applications for funding within Gravitation. Of these, 16 were invited for an interview and eventually six consortia were selected. The assessment, ranking and selection of the proposals were carried out by external referees and an independent international committee of researchers with a broad knowledge of developments in science, and experience with large scientific research projects.

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Source: NWO


Anko Wiegel Anko Wiegel +31 (0)70 3440644


Olivier Morot (spokesperson) Olivier Morot (spokesperson) t: +31 (0)6 53175377