International collaboration

Although science transcends national boundaries, funding is frequently bound to national borders. NWO will continue to proactively seek connection with international science policy. NWO aims to contribute to the strong position of Dutch scientists in the international scientific landscape and to collaborate internationally in order to address local and global societal issues. NWO is in favour of a good alignment between the research programmes of the European Union and the national research programmes within Europe.

The European research landscape

Both the Netherlands and Europe have compiled various agendas to tackle societal and scientific challenges. The importance of European Union policies for Dutch research and innovation policy has strongly increased in recent years. Collaborating with European partners benefits the quality and impact of Dutch research. It allows Dutch researchers to absorb new knowledge from abroad, which in turn strengthens the Dutch knowledge base. It increases scientific impact because publications that involve international collaboration have higher citation indexes.

With its framework programmes, the EU creates an additional research agenda for Dutch science. NWO participates in various committees at the European level and partly aligns its policy with that of the European Commission. In addition, NWO encourages collaboration between various Dutch parties that are active in European policy making. In addition, NWO stimulates cooperation between the various Dutch parties that are active in European policy making.

International dialogue

NWO will continue to participate proactively in important international networks such as Science Europe and the Global Research Council. The aim of this is to exert influence on international developments in science both within and beyond Europe. NWO also participates in intergovernmental organisations that focus on big science and large international research infrastructure.

Science diplomacy

The Netherlands wants to strengthen its international profile as a knowledge economy where world-class science is conducted. NWO will play a proactive role in harmonising the international knowledge policy of the Dutch government, Nuffic and the knowledge institutions. With a joint effort, Dutch research can be better presented abroad. For this, NWO will make strategic use of visitor grants and other instruments.

International circulation of talent

Free circulation in an open, international science system inspires researchers, contributes to new skills and knowledge, ensures the embedding of Dutch researchers in international networks, and increases the impact of research.

Money follows Researcher

Under the Money follows Researcher scheme, researchers in the Netherlands taking up an appointment at a different European knowledge institution could already take the remainder of their funding with them. NWO has dropped the principle of reciprocity in this scheme. As a result, Dutch researchers are able to continue and complete a research project anywhere in the world.

Money Follows Cooperation

Although science transcends national boundaries, funding is frequently bound to national borders. Via the principle of Money Follows Cooperation, NWO will remove those boundaries. Money Follows Cooperation offers the possibility of creating added value for research projects by using expertise from abroad that is not available in the Netherlands or is not present at the desired level.

Merian Fund

The Merian Fund is a fund for international cooperation with (emerging) science countries and developing countries. The common thread within the Merian Fund is international research to promote the worldwide achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Projects are carried out in consortia with scientific and non-scientific partners in a chain-wide approach that focus on social impact. Within the Merian Fund, NWO currently cooperates with seven partners in five countries: FAPESP (Brazil), NSFC and CAS (China), DST and DBT (India), RISTEKDIKTI ( Indonesia) and NRF (South Africa).

Collaboration beyond Europe

Partly on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NWO will continue to invest in cooperation with various emerging and developing countries.

Joint programmes with European sister organisations

NWO is in favour of a good alignment between the research programme of the European Union and the national research programmes within Europe. We support the efforts to realise a simpler research landscape in Europe. NWO will investigate the possibilities for setting up research programmes aimed at societal missions together with European research funding bodies. In these, NWO or a European sister organisation will act as the lead agency.


The Netherlands participates in a number of international treaty organisations, other organisations and European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERICs) that frequently play an important role in the development and management of large-scale scientific infrastructure. In the coming strategy period, NWO will initiate a discussion with the knowledge institutions concerning the importance of these participations and how to decide about new ones. This will also require choices concerning participations to be discontinued. Moreover, collaboration with foreign research funding bodies offers opportunities to jointly realise facilities. NWO will actively investigate the possibilities to realise or jointly use facilities in collaboration with foreign research funding bodies.

NWO institutes

International collaboration and large-scale, advanced research facilities are needed to answer major questions. In the coming years, the NWO institutes AMOLF, ARCNL, ASTRON, CWI, DIFFER, Nikhef, NIOZ, NSCR and SRON will continue to play a major role as the hosts or points of entry to large national and international research infrastructure. Many institutes fulfil an important role in big science, the fundamental and groundbreaking research that is carried out in large international collaborations. They provide an inspiring environment for researchers from the Netherlands and abroad and ensure access to national and international research facilities.