Dutch Research Agenda – Research along routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC 2020/21)
The call for the 2020-2021 round of the NWA ORC research funding has been published. To allow for processes that, because of COVID-19, take more time than usual the originally planned three rounds in 2020-2022 have been reduced to a round in 2020-2021 and a round in 2022-2023. In consequence, the budget for the 2020 has been supplemented by parts of the budget originally foreseen for 2021, so this time the budget is, with 132.3 million euros, substantially larger than the budget for the 2018 and 2019 rounds.
The time frame for the 2020-2021 round has likewise been expanded, with the following important dates:
- 1 October 2020: deadline for submitting brief descriptions of initiatives (mandatory).
- 26 October – 6 November 2020: matchmaking events (online) for all ‘routes’. Participation of a representative of each initiative on a ‘route’ is mandatory. The online event for route 15 is on 30 October 2020, 10:00 to 13:00h.
- 14 January 2021: deadline for submitting pre-proposals
- 24 June 2021: deadline for full proposals
- Q1 2022: decisions
Over the past two years, and working with our colleagues of the ‘fundamentals of space, time and matter’ route 2, we made a bit of a nuisance of ourselves by frequently pointing out to NWO that the funding conditions put up an uneven playing field, with many proposals on our ‘routes’ at a serious disadvantage compared to proposals on other routes.
The 2020/21 call shows that our insistence hasn’t led to much change yet. Some change there is, though. The earlier requirement that 20% of the funding has to be spent on applied research (defined as: research performed by HBO, RKI, TO2or ‘other’ public knowledge institutes) has been loosened up a bit. It is now admissible to put the percentage somewhere between 15% and 25%. Further, and more importantly, the 2019 requirement to provide a societal impact plan has been changed to the requirement to provide such a plan or a so-called impact outlook – a bit more on both below.
Otherwise nothing of substance has been changed. However, it is not a foregone conclusion that your proposal will be rejected out of hand if you primarily aim to just furthering understanding of the sheer possibility, distribution and defining characteristics of the phenomenon ‘life’ at various stages of its evolution. Various strategies can be explored for meeting the requirements and having a project targeting such aims.
In applying for NWA ORC funding, almost all important work needs all to be done in the preproposal stage, that is before the 14th of January 2021. Consortiums are free to develop proposals on their own, but up to the end of 2020 the Origins Center has specific support capacity available for consortium development, strategy (including: what NWA ‘cluster questions’ and routes to refer to?), the science communication paragraph and, specifically, the societal impact plan or, alternatively, the ‘impact outlook’ that you will have to produce (in the full proposal stage – but it is strongly recommended to start developing a plan, or an outlook, right away).
In the impact plan, you will have to deliver a plausible ‘narrative’ about how your projected findings could be taken up by other parties and, in due time, could lead to significant social (cultural, technological, ecological …) change. In an impact outlook the narrative can be far less specific about the change and the chain of activities that would lead to that change. In contrast, you should indicate what you will do to raise the probability that some party, for some reason, adopts your results and brings them further towards effecting some (societal) change. Further you should explain why a fully-fledged impact plan can’t be provided.
The call is more specific about this partly new requirement – see especially the separate ‘explanation impact approaches’ PDF linked to the call page. Over the past few months, we developed some ideas about how actually to draft an impact plan or impact outlook. For info contact email@example.com.
Dutch National Research Agenda – To website
Dutch Research Council – To website
University of Groningen – To website