Knowledge utilisation

It is extremely important that scientific research benefits society wherever possible and as quickly as possible. This requires the active participation of all parties. The utilisation of knowledge for society and for the economy (knowledge utilisation) increasingly takes place in networks of researchers, businesses and civil society organisations. Innovation is an interactive process in which the intended solutions inspire new research and in which scientific breakthroughs lead to new directions for solutions. The interfaces between knowledge utilisation and innovation and Open Science are broad.

The Open Science approach presumes that knowledge generated with public funds must be publicly accessible without financial barriers. This also accelerates and simplifies the positive impact of that knowledge in society. It is all about exchanging knowledge and contacts between people. NWO's utilisation policy aims to support researchers and encourage their activities where necessary in order to convey the possible importance of their research and to involve stakeholders.

Knowledge utilisation in NWO-research

Much scientific research touches on important issues in society and in the economy. Therefore since 2013, NWO has asked applicants to describe how their research could contribute to society and to the economy, the so-called knowledge utilisation section. In this, NWO asks about plans for sharing the research results outside the scientific community, even if a concrete use is not conceivable or feasible in the near future. NWO fully understands, however, that knowledge utilisation is not applicable to all research.

If an applicant can present a plausible case that knowledge utilisation plays no role in his/her project then exemption is also possible. The requested explanation about knowledge utilisation and the method of evaluation differ for each funding instrument; these are explained in the call for proposals concerned. NWO asks more of a researcher who submits an application for funding within a thematic programme - e.g. within the national research priorities such as the Dutch Science Agenda or one of the top sectors - than of a researcher committed to curiosity-driven research. 

Starting in 2015, NWO will earmark around € 100 million annually for thematic research within the top sectors that will be conducted in collaboration with the business community. This will be done largely via public-private partnership. The principle for NWO's knowledge utilisation policy is identical for curiosity-driven and thematic research and for PPP. It is all about conveying the potential importance of the research and involving interested parties wherever possible.


NWO will develop its knowledge utilisation policy further by committing to:

  • The assessment of opportunities for knowledge utilisation
    In programmes in which societal and/or economic knowledge utilisation is a particular objective, NWO will make the assessment criteria for utilisation opportunities more stringent. It will do this by considering the researchers' and/or involved parties' track records in knowledge utilisation along with the plans for knowledge utilisation. For this, the implementation of knowledge utilisation plans will be monitored during and after the completion of projects.

  • A measurement of the effect of the focus on knowledge utilisation
    From time to time, NWO will assess the added value of the focus on knowledge utilisation in the application procedures for both researchers and for society. The results will be brought to the attention of the relevant target groups.