Strategy NWO 2019-2022

In the strategic plan 'Connecting Science and Society' NWO describes the course for the period 2019 to 2022. In this plan, NWO emphasises its connecting role: making connections within science and between science and society together with its knowledge partners.

Dutch research is good and effective...

Dutch research is highly regarded and is effective thanks to a smart combination of collaboration, competition, quality assurance and a good infrastructure. The Netherlands wishes to maintain and strengthen this leading position.

… but also faces major challenges

It is a challenging time for science. Science is increasingly being called upon to help tackle complex societal issues. Science itself is becoming increasingly complex. Many different national and European agendas demand the attention of Dutch science. At the same time, the reliability of science is being called into question by some parts of society.

These developments require more collaboration in the science system and more dialogue between science and society. Besides a strong disciplinary basis, collaboration between disciplines, across sectors and throughout the knowledge chain – from fundamental to practice-oriented research – and with societal partners is more necessary than ever before.


For the period 2019-2022, NWO has formulated five ambitions along which its mission will be shaped.  NWO works on the basis of the core values: groundbreaking, committed, reliable and connecting. These are:

  • Nexus | Connecting agendas, science and society

    NWO will ensure increased coordination in Dutch science so that a national research strategy can be developed, including a regularly updated Dutch National Research Agenda. In this, thematic and curiosity-driven research will be kept in balance.

    NWO will facilitate self-organisation in the scientific field and will also clearly involve societal parties and citizens in the programming and realisation of research. NWO will continue to proactively seek the connection with international, and especially European science policy. NWO will make an active contribution to Science Diplomacy.

    Relevant topics and programmes

    Dutch Research Agenda

    Knowledge and Innovation Covenant (KIC) and topsectors

    International collaboration

    Science diplomacy

    Lorentz center

  • People | Perspective for researchers

    Good research requires good researchers. NWO will ensure that researchers in the Netherlands can continue to develop in all phases of their career.

    The renowned Talent Scheme (Rubicon, Veni, Vidi, Vici) will be supplemented with instruments by which talented researchers can continue working on existing research with a longer duration, whether alone or with a team. Furthermore, the NWO Open Competition for curiosity-driven research will be given a modular structure.

    NWO will expand the 'Money Follows Researcher' scheme and it will establish the Huygens Professorship to attract excellent senior scientists to the Netherlands. NWO will also tackle important bottlenecks such as the Matthew effect and the high application pressure.

    Relevant topics and programmes

    NWO Talentprogramme 

    Circulation of talent

    Diversity and inclusion

  • Research | Collaboration for excellence and innovation

    Fundamental research forms the basis for excellence and innovation. Consequently, curiosity-driven and fundamental research will remain an important focus for NWO with programmes for high-risk pioneering research.

    In view of the developments in science and society, NWO will place a considerable emphasis on collaboration. The NWO institutes fulfil a national role as centres for collaboration for strategically important subjects. Collaboration between disciplines, between sectors and throughout the knowledge chain is a superb way of contributing to surprising new insights. NWO will therefore devote more attention to team science. NWO's contribution to the knowledge and innovation agenda of the top sectors and the facilitation of public-public and public-private partnerships will continue at the current level.

    In addition, NWO will implement the Dutch National Research Agenda. Programmes in the Dutch National Research Agenda will be set up across the breadth of science and provide opportunities for a broad knowledge chain approach in which fundamental, strategic, practice-oriented and applied research will be connected with each other, where relevant. Non-scientific parties will also have the opportunity to be involved in realising research in these programmes.

    With the Merian Fund, NWO will provide new possibilities for international collaboration with emerging science nations and developing countries.
    Open Science will remain the standard in all of these initiatives. NWO will take the lead in Open Science.

    Relevant topics and programmes

    Open science

    Institutes of NWO

    Taskorce Applied Research SIA

    Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO)

    Dutch Research Agenda

    Merian Fund

    Knowledge and Innovation Covenant (KIC) and topsectors

  • Infrastructure | Accessible and sustainable scientific infrastructure

    Research infrastructure plays an important role in all areas of science. In this regard, not just the 'hard' equipment and ICT-facilities are important, but also the technical support and a professional environment where brainpower is concentrated and people meet.

    NWO believes it has an important task in funding large-scale research facilities and making these available to Dutch researchers. The NWO institutes continue to play a major role as the host or point of entry to large national and international research infrastructure. Furthermore, NWO wants to draw up a national investment agenda together with universities and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Relevant topics and programmes

    Institutes of NWO

    Smart Urban Regions for the Future (SURF)


    Netherlands eScience Center

    National roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities

    International collaboration

  • Knowledge sharing | Effective use of knowledge through co-design and co-creation

    Besides having a scientific impact, research should also generate societal impact that contributes to the solving of societal issues. NWO wants to facilitate knowledge sharing by increasing the collaboration with users.

    In doing so, NWO will further build upon the experience of various NWO units. During the next strategy period, public-private and public-public partnership in research will remain possible.

    Relevant topics

    Knowledge utilisation

    Open Science

    Knowledge and Innovation Covenant (KIC) and topsectors