Knowledge and Innovation Covenant

Knowledge and Innovation Covenant

Climate change, cyber security, ageing: our society is facing a number of major challenges that call for more knowledge and groundbreaking innovations. This offers opportunities for scientists, companies and public parties. NWO is responding to this by investing more than 100 million euros a year in research in which public and private parties work together.

The financial contribution of NWO is laid down in the Knowledge and Innovation Covenant (KIC) 2020-2023, in which knowledge institutions, the business community, governments and other public parties jointly invest in innovation. This funding is in line with the government's mission-driven top sector and innovation policy. 

Research and innovation topics

The KIC 2020-2023 is based on mission-driven top sector and innovation policy. It focuses on four major societal themes, key enabling technologies, and societal earning capacity. The four main themes are:

  • Energy transition & sustainability
  • Agriculture, water & food
  • Health & Care
  • Safety

These themes have been further elaborated into concrete missions in the Knowledge and Innovation Agendas (KIA), drawn up by representatives of the business community and the government. The KIAs contain research and innovation topics that knowledge institutions and companies can address in public-private partnerships. The NWO contribution to the KIC 2020-2023 focuses on scientific and practice-oriented research into questions that contribute to the concrete missions. The KIAs form the starting point for the NWO programming.

Available funding

The NWO instruments for the KIC 2020-2023 provide funding for fundamental and practical research in public-private partnerships. The set of instruments consists of four main lines, for which 118 million euros has been reserved each year.

Universities of Applied Sciences and SMEs

In all four main lines of the KIC's NWO instruments, there is room for the participation of universities of applied sciences as consortium partners and for applying for innovation internships. Specific measures are also being taken to make the participation of SMEs in research more attractive in all fundinginstruments. 

Support and matchmaking

Within the KIC, NWO actively supports innovation clusters and initiatives. This includes organising matchmaking activities and offering sandpit procedures to explore the suitability of research initiatives at an early stage.


NWO will carefully monitor the results of the calls and the experiences of knowledge institutions and partners. Where necessary, NWO will adjust the approach in the KIC 2020-2023 in consultation with the partners.

Role of NWO

Through the KIC 2020-2023, NWO contributes to the government's mission-driven top sector and innovation policy. To achieve this, NWO initiates collaborations, establishes links between scientists, private and public parties, and encourages NWO to explore new avenues. Bringing the various parties together creates new consortia and innovative research. The NWO's financial contribution to the KIC is available for fundamental and practice-oriented research carried out by scientists in collaboration with companies.

Staying informed

The NWO newsletter will keep you informed about new funding opportunities for public-private partnerships arising from the KIC.