Additional investment for accelerated research programmes on corona

3 April 2020

Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Hugo de Jonge informed the House of Representatives on Wednesday 1 April that the cabinet is allocating a total of 42 million euros for research on the most urgent corona-related research questions. It is estimated that these additional funds will enable some 80 to 100 research issues to be investigated.

It is important that these resources are made available in a well-coordinated but also quick and simple manner. A substantial part of the 42 million euros will be awarded by ZonMw and NWO, who will work closely together to this end in research programming.

1. Fast incidental funding round for COVID-19 (‘first wave’)

Right after the coronavirus was detected in the Netherlands, incidental funding was used for targeted and urgent research on ways of combating the COVID-19 pandemic. This was funded by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (€4 million) and ZonMw (1 million euros); NWO has joined as well, making 1.5 million euros available.

The funding involves:

  • Medical research: monitoring recovering patients, the transmission of the virus to and from children, hospital epidemiology, the development of medication that can be used in the (very) short term, antibodies and virus evolution. Socio-scientific research proposals that examine the impact of social isolation and its consequences have also been prioritised. These projects have already been launched or will begin shortly. These studies are being coordinated by ZonMw.
  • Behavioural research: research on social distancing and its impact on the spread of the virus. This is being coordinated by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

It is also possible to apply for a small financial compensation (7,500 euros to 15,000 euros) for creative solutions for practical (hospital) care. For example for medical devices or to help care and assistance providers give vulnerable groups the right care and assistance. ZonMw is doing its utmost to respond to applicants within a week to ensure that creative solutions can be put into practice as quickly as possible.

A total of 6.5 million euros has been made available by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, ZonMw and NWO for this initial research.

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2. COVID-19 research programme to be launched shortly (‘second wave’)

ZonMw and NWO are currently developing an additional research programme in close consultation with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the field. This new programme will provide space for different types of research (action research, applied and fundamental research) on subjects similar to those in the accelerated incidental funding round, but which will also focus on the (broader social) consequences of the crisis and measures to be taken in the longer term.

The grants will be awarded in the near future. The entire programme will run until the end of 2024 at the latest, for monitoring and completion of all pathways.

A total of about 20 to 25 million euros has been made available for this type of research by NWO, ZonMw, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

2. Fast-track data NWO research

To acquire data that can only be collected now, during the crisis, the NWO domains Social Sciences and Humanities, Science, and Applied and Engineering Sciences are developing a so-called ‘fast-track data’ request. Researchers can apply for funding for research that requires real-time data acquisition on issues emerging as a result of the crisis, data that can help to manage the crisis, or that can increase the learning capacity of society during a pandemic.

To ensure that the data can be collected as quickly as possible, NWO is doing its utmost to give applicants the go/no go within one working week. Researchers will make data and an initial analysis of this data openly accessible as soon as possible. Medical and care-related subjects are excluded from this enquiry. The call is already open and can be found below (English version will be made available as soon as possible).

In total, NWO is making 1.5 million euros available for this call: each NWO domain is contributing 0.5 million euros.

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Applications

More information about the research opportunities, procedure and approach will soon be published on the websites of ZonMw and NWO. For information about the measures being taken by NWO in connection with the coronavirus, please visit www.nwo.nl/corona.

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Source: NWO