NWO and the Top sectors

NWO takes part in the top sectors policy of the current Dutch government. Within nine designated sectors, the collaboration between companies, researchers and the government is being encouraged. In this process, NWO ensures a good connection between the ambitions of the top sectors and the funding of scientific research within these areas.

NWO contributes 275 million euro annually to the top sectors, of which more than 100 million euro in the context of public-private partnership (PPP) in which scientists and businesses set up and finance research projects together. NWO selects the research projects to be funded via the system of competition and according to NWO's customary quality standards. As the research themes are so relevant to society, knowledge utilisation is an important focus within the top sectors.

Solutions to societal challenges

Together with science and the business community, NWO jointly formulates research topics and links these to solutions to societal issues. The choice of topic is often the result of consultation between science and the business community. NWO distributes the resources among all the top sectors on the basis of scientific quality and social relevance. The joint research agenda is formulated in the 2014-2015 Knowledge and Innovation Contract. 

In the coming years, NWO will link its activities in the top sectors to the Dutch Science Agenda and to international research agendas such as the Grand Societal Challenges from Horizon 2020. For this, more will be invested in programmes that transect the top sectors. In addition, NWO will survey the effect of the top sectors and create additional opportunities for long-term funding.

NWO contribution to the top sectors

NWO's contribution to the top sectors consists of three pillars.

  • PPP1: public-private partnership. Joint programming, a private contribution is required.
  • PPP2: public-private programming. Joint programming, a private contribution is not required.
  • Curiosity-driven research aimed at the top sectors for which various NWO instruments can be deployed, for example talent programmes.

In addition to specific activities, NWO realises a significant part of its contribution to the research agendas of the top sectors via investments in talent and curiosity-driven research.  Instruments to be deployed for this include the talent programmes such as the Talent Scheme, the FOM Vrije Programma's and TOP grants.

Top consortia for Knowledge and Innovation (TKIs)

The Top Consortia for Knowledge and Innovation (TKIs) have been established to ensure that the joint research agenda within the top sectors is realised. In a TKI, parties across the entire knowledge chain work together to consolidate excellent public-private partnerships in the area of research and to realise these. As a research funding body, NWO plays an important role within the TKIs. The precise role played by NWO in each TKI depends on NWO's subject-specific and financial involvement.

The Social Infrastructure Agenda

Technological, policy-based, economic and social innovation, all have a higher chance of success if the underlying societal challenges are effectively tackled. Therefore, NWO launched the Social Infrastructure Agenda (SIA) at the start of the policy for top sectors (economic priority areas). The Social Infrastructure Agenda, also referred to as the Social Innovation Agenda, brings together high-quality multidisciplinary research for top sectors and for a resilient the Netherlands. It covers relevant social issues such as human capital, smart and efficient forms of organisation, sustainable business models, security and digital security. The guiding principles of the SIA programmes are transformation and resilience.