Guideline for postponing primary process NWO

3 April 2020

Following the extended national measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, NWO has drafted guidelines for the primary process which apply until at least 28 April. What does this mean for the planned activities in NWO's primary process?

Two starting points

Two starting points have to be taken into consideration regarding decisions about whether to continue or postpone the primary process. First, that all candidates have an equal opportunity to submit their applications. Many people wanting to submit applications now face different work-related tasks and circumstances. In addition, it is important that we are confident that the evaluation procedure will be carried out properly. That means, for example, a carefully composed committee with a sufficient range of expertise.

As a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus, it is not always possible to meet the criteria of these two starting points. Consequently, not all of the planned activities in NWO’s primary process can be carried out. In order to act clearly, transparently and unambiguously, to avoid having to weigh each funding instrument separately and to provide applicants with clarity, we have drafted a single guideline for all instruments.

The guideline is based on information that has been available until today and the intention to end the announced measures (i.e. closure of public establishments and recommendation to minimise personal contact) on 28 April. If the measures are extended, then we will revise this guideline. NWO will assess whether a further extension is necessary a week in advance.

We make a distinction between ongoing and upcoming rounds. There are exceptions for complex rounds.

Ongoing rounds

Ongoing round refers to rounds whose first deadlines have already passed (pre-registration or full application). The following applies to these rounds:

  • Rounds in which interaction with applicants is no longer required can go ahead as planned. Committee meetings will be organised online.
  • Based on the government’s measures, NWO has decided to put scheduled interviews on hold. NWO is fully aware that this creates uncertainty for people who are in the middle of the procedure. NWO is therefore looking for ways to award grants after all. In doing so, NWO must maintain due care and a level playing field for all candidates. In the meantime, we are developing a protocol for holding remote interviews. As soon as that is ready and tested, it will be implemented in consultation with the coordinators of ongoing rounds that have interviews scheduled in the short term. No dates haven been set yet, but we hope to get started as soon as possible. Again, this is only possible if we can put together a good committee.
  • Deadlines for written interaction with applicants in ongoing rounds will be extended, because the current situation could potentially prevent them from writing an application.
  • The time limit for rebuttals will be doubled.
  • The deadline for rounds whose pre-registration deadline has already passed, and for which detailed applications need to be submitted, will be extended by two months.
  • Rounds that are currently continuously open for submissions can go ahead, subject to the above points. When the number of submissions decreases, the deadline will also shift.

Upcoming rounds

Upcoming rounds refers to rounds for which no deadlines have passed yet. The following applies to these rounds:

  • The schedule for this entire round has been postponed by two months compared to the original schedule. All rounds not yet open will be postponed by two months. In the first place, this concerns all rounds with a starting date until 1 July. However, it may well be that this shift (due to overlap) makes it necessary to postpone later rounds compared to the original schedule.
  • NWO will announce the revised schedule for this round before 28 April (or later if this date shifts).
  • If the deadline is imminent and people have therefore already submitted their application, then these applications can be revoked and resubmitted.

Complex rounds

Complex instruments refers to:

  • Instruments for which a consortium has to be created and/or
  • Instruments that require co-funding (e.g. NWAORC)

These rounds, whether ongoing or upcoming, will be frozen and resumed one month after the national measures have been suspended, now scheduled for 28 April. In cases concerning international consortiums, the measures and circumstances in the countries in question will be taken into consideration as well in determining a new date. The coronavirus measures could severely hamper interaction between applicants and consortium partners. Complex rounds whose deadline has passed and which no longer require interaction with the applicant meet our definition of an ongoing round. These rounds can therefore be completed.

PPS instruments

NWO is also currently examining what kind of an impact the economic insecurity caused by the outbreak of the virus is going to have on upcoming and ongoing public-private research. In the coming weeks, NWO will communicate more about the measures that may need to be taken.

Project administration and start-up documentation

Deadlines for submitting documentation for ongoing projects (e.g. interim and final reports) will be extended by four months compared to the original deadlines. These now have less priority. Projects still cannot begin unless the necessary start-up documentation has been submitted. Deadlines for submitting start-up documentation (consortium agreements, data management plans) and hiring staff for projects have also been extended by four months.

Scheduling of programmes

Scheduling has to be structurally revised for several of the larger programmes, such as Talent Programme/Talent Scheme, the KIC and the NWA, because current instruments experiencing delays are going to overlap with upcoming rounds. As soon as it is clear how long the social distancing measures will last, NWO will communicate the revised scheduling of these programmes.

News updates

At this stage, it is impossible to foresee the consequences that this unavoidable postponement will have in the long term. In some cases, deadlines or other parts of the application process will inevitably need to shift or be adjusted again. Nwo.nl/corona-en will always contain the most recent information, and it will be regularly updated. If there is no further information about a specific round you are searching for, then that means there is none available at that point in time.


Source: NWO