Dutch National Research Agenda

NWO wants to facilitate science making a contribution to economic and societal challenges. NWO is convinced that the urgent challenges the Netherlands faces need to be tackled together with the entire scientific field. The Dutch National Research Agenda forms the framework for this joint approach.

Knowledge exchange with research agenda

In November 2014, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science published the 2025 Vision for Science: choices for the future, which sketched the desired future of science in the Netherlands. The 2025 Vision for Science states that science should focus even more than in the past on major societal issues and the connections between the research done at universities, research institutes, companies and other knowledge organisations. The Dutch National Research Agenda provides direction for this exchange of knowledge.

NWO contribution to Dutch National Research Agenda

NWO provides an active contribution to realising the Dutch National Research Agenda from the perspective of its strategy that focuses on opportunities for curiosity-driven, non-programmed research and the connection of science with major societal challenges. The Dutch National Research Agenda helps to shape the research theme policy of NWO, the Gravitation programme, the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities, and the national research institutes.

The secretariat of the Dutch National Research Agenda is made up employees from the Knowledge Coalition partners and is accommodated at NWO. In addition, NWO provides targeted programmes to support researchers in translating their research results into economic and societal applications. The NWO institutes are also closely involved in realising the research questions formulated by the Dutch National Research Agenda.

How the Dutch National Research Agenda was realised

The Dutch National Research Agenda was realised following an open consultation process under the leadership of the Knowledge Coalition. Prof. Beatrice de Graaf and Prof. Alexander Rinnooy Kan chaired the process. Until the deadline of 1 May 2015, everybody in the Netherlands could pose his or her question to science. Almost 12,000 questions were submitted in total. Five scientific juries then assessed the questions for 'feasibility for research', 'level of challenge' and 'connection with national strengths'. With this approach, they successfully reduced the huge number of questions to 140 cluster questions. Three conferences about these cluster questions were subsequently held with experts from science, industry and society.

These conferences established the basis for the Dutch National Research Agenda. On 27 November 2015, the Dutch National Research Agenda was presented to the ministers and state secretaries of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (now Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy). These members of government accepted the Dutch National Research Agenda on behalf of the Dutch Cabinet and presented it to the Dutch House of Representatives.

Elaboration of the routes and the investment agenda

Using related questions in the Dutch National Research Agenda, the Knowledge Coalition compiled 25 routes with input from the entire scientific field. The routes illustrate the coherence between scientific and societal disciplines and actors with respect to complex societal issues.

In the spring of 2016, experts and researchers in various disciplines from knowledge institutions, civil society organisations and industry worked on the elaboration of these routes. Five opportunities were identified for each route, and these jointly form the portfolio for research and innovation.

The opportunities portfolios reveal which themes are the priority for the coming years. As a framework, these thematic priorities form the first component of the long-term investment agenda for research and innovation under the programme name ‘Spankracht’.

The second component of the investment agenda, ‘Draagkracht’, requests equal attention for the construction and maintenance of a solid knowledge base across the entire breadth of scientific research in the Netherlands. The thematic research activities are supported by this knowledge base. The investment agenda was presented in September 2016.



Research programme Dutch National Research Agenda

On 9 March 2018, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science announced in a Letter to Parliament that NWO would start the programme round for the Dutch National Research Agenda before the end of this year. In 2018, an extra 70 million euros will be made available for this, which will increase to 108 million euros in 2019 and 130 million euros from 2020.

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research is currently discussing the precise contents of the programme with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, other government departments, and partners from the Knowledge Coalition. The timeframe for realising the programme depends on when NWO receives a formal commission from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the criteria attached to this commission. It is expected that in the second half of April, NWO will be able to announce further details about the design of the Dutch National Research Agenda programme and the planning of the processes within it.

Further information