Merian Fund

NWO will establish the Merian Fund to increase the visibility and profiling of Dutch science abroad. It will be a fund in which international collaboration with emerging science nations and developing countries will play an important role. In addition, the programme will improve coordination between the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and organisations such as Nuffic and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

Flexibility in themes and partner countries will be the key factor in organising bilateral and multilateral funding rounds. The common thread will be research that supports the worldwide achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Partner countries will be invited to make a financial or in-kind contribution to the Merian Fund. In addition, the collaboration with China, India and Brazil will be supplemented with collaborations with Indonesia and South Africa. Domains and institutes of NWO and of the Taskforce for Applied Research (NPRO-SIA) will contribute from their own expertise, instruments and networks.


The Merian Fund is inspired by the Newton Fund in the United Kingdom and is named after Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717). Merian was the daughter of a Swiss father and a Dutch mother. She lived in Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Wieuwerd, Amsterdam, Suriname and then Amsterdam again. Merian laid the foundations for entomology and was one of the first botanical artists. In 1699, she travelled to Suriname to study exotic butterflies. Upon her return, she produced a book using the drawings she had made in Suriname and the prepared insects.