On Friday 10 July NWO will publish the third funding round of the NWA research programme ‘Research along Routes by Consortia (ORC)’. The aim of the NWA-ORC 2020/21 is to stimulate research and innovation aimed at the portfolio of the 25 routes and the associated 140 cluster questions in the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA).

In the NWA-ORC, researchers collaborate with each other and with civil society organisations. The entire knowledge chain is represented. The added value of the consortium must arise from the joint approach to research, while the individual strengths and expertise of the participants demonstrably reinforce each other.

Because of the corona measures, the NWA-ORC 2020 round has been considerably delayed. For this reason, NWO is not organising a separate round for 2021. NWO will use the budget of the 2021 round to increase the funding for this round, of 2020/21, and that of 2021/22. As a consequence, for the 2020/21 funding round 132.3 million euros is available. This budget is higher than in previous years. The (fourth) round 2021/22 is expected to start in autumn 2021.

Important dates

  • The deadline for submitting initiatives is 1 October 2020;
  • The deadline for submitting pre-proposals is 14 January 2021;
  • The deadline for submission of full proposals is 24 June 2021;
  • NWO expects the awards to be announced in early 2022.

On 3 September 2020, NWO will organise a webinar on the NWA-ORC 2020/21. In this webinar, researchers, companies and civil society organisations can learn more about the ORC’s objectives and working method. Further information will follow via the NWO website and the NWO newsletter.

How to submit?

Submitting an application starts with the submission of an initiative. That does not have to be a detailed plan with a budget and commitments from participants. An overall idea by one individual researcher is sufficient. Main applicants of knowledge organisations submit such an initiative. NWO informs the knowledge organisations about the initiatives submitted by their organisation.

This initiative phase is important in order to promote consortium formation and to offer organisations the possibility to connect to an already existing initiative. NWO will publish the submitted initiatives online in October 2020 and will organise a matchmaking meeting with each NWA route at the end of October/early November 2020. Main applicants of initiatives (or someone replacing them) are then obliged to participate in the matchmaking meeting of the NWA route that is most relevant to their idea. If the initiative is not represented at such a meeting, a pre-proposal cannot be submitted.


The pre-proposal should be connected to an initiative  submitted earlier and must relate to one or more NWA routes and address one or more of the 140 cluster questions. It is not necessary for the consortium to submit letters of support and a budget at this stage, this in order to facilitate the process. An indication of the bandwidth and, if possible, an estimate of the amount to be applied for suffice at this stage.

The assessment committee will be divided into clusters of matching routes. NWO determines the available budget per bandwidth in proportion to the cumulative requested budget of the complete applications being assessed per bandwidth. NWO aims for a similar success rate for all three bandwidths.

Productive interactions and knowledge utilisation

The added value of the cooperation in the projects lies in the diversity and complementarity in (technical) skills and expertise of individual consortium partners. These ‘productive interactions’ increase the chance of social and scientific breakthroughs. In order to do justice to the different expectations in the field of societal breakthroughs, or impact, in the breadth of the NWA agenda, NWO uses two approaches to knowledge utilisation in this call for proposals: the Impact Plan approach (achieving societal breakthroughs), and the Impact Outlook approach (acquiring more knowledge and sharing that knowledge). Which approach applies to an application depends on the nature of the addressed cluster question(s). NWO expects the Impact Plan approach to be appropriate for most routes and cluster questions.

More information

Source: NWO news

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