40 researchers test viability of innovative ideas with funding from Idea Generator

2 July 2020

Can cheap “smart” shoes check the gait of Parkinson's patients? Can washing clothes differently contribute to limiting the amount of microplastics in the environment? Could buildings become more energy efficient thanks to innovative compressed earth blocks containing cow dung? Can probation officers learn from young people with a criminal past about empathy and communication skills? With a grant of 50,000 euros, 40 out-of-the-box research ideas like these can be developed further.

The applicants have received funding from the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) programme: Idea Generator. The projects from this programme are characterised by their innovative nature and possible impact on society. A total of 2 million euros was available.

The procedure in the second funding round deviated from that in the first round. For example, the proposals had to fit well within the description of the NWA routes in the Portfolio for Research and Innovation and the NWA questions. The applicants also anonymously assessed each other’s project proposals: that resulted in a short and efficient procedure so that the project leaders could set to work quicker.

Exciting and small-scale

Innovative research ideas in a very early stage are often exciting. However, there is a chance that the project will not yield the expected outcomes. Such research is often difficult to obtain funding for because the risks are considered too high. The Idea Generator offers these research ideas a chance.

With the 50,000 euros awarded, the researchers will work together with a range of civil society partners over a period of a year to further develop their idea on a small scale. This gives a quick result, but can also lead to a more detailed research proposal or the conclusion that the idea is not feasible. PhDs, postdocs or researchers with a temporary contract can also submit a proposal for this grant, unlike for other funding instruments.

As planned, the Idea Generator programme has now stopped after these two funding rounds. Besides the existing NWA funding instrument to support the 25 NWA routes, a new call has been published with funding space per route for three short-duration projects with exciting research subjects. This call is currently open until 29 October 2020.


Idea Generator

On behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, NWO has funded research in the context of the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) since 2018. The aim of NWA research is to make a positive, structural contribution to the knowledge society of tomorrow, by building bridges today and jointly tackling scientific and societal challenges. With the Idea Generator, NWA seeks to facilitate research with a potentially high societal impact and to provide opportunities for small-scale, exciting research projects. The programme encourages creative, out-of-the-box thinkers to put into practice creative, exciting and innovative research ideas that are relevant to the NWA programme.


Source: NWO