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April 26th 2017

The aim of these changes is to realise a more effective and less pluriform NWO organisation that has a greater multidisciplinary focus. Read more.

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the transition. If you have further questions, please send an email to

How will this affect funding instruments?
The general rule for all funding instruments of all NWO divisions will be: all funding instruments will be continued unchanged until a decision about adapting or ending it is made. Therefore 2017 will be a transition year. The organisation will be developed and the Domains in their turn will take care of the funding instruments. NWO and FOM will take care that changes will be announced at least six months in advance. This gives researchers a chance to prepare for change adequately. New calls will be announced by the new domains and domain boards will decide on grants.

What will happen to current FOM personnel?
For all previous FOM employees the name of their employer has changed: FOM has become the NWO Institutes Organisation (NWO-I). For most employees this will be the only change, the exception being the employees at the FOM office. They will all relocate to the new NWO. Employees will 'follow their work' for the most part, just like their colleagues at STW and NWO. This implies that most contacts will stay, and that the transition will have minimal effect on the work in progress. However, the email addresses have changed in (mostly) Telephone numbers remained unchanged.

Because of the incorporation of the NWO Institutes in NWO-I (January 2018) and the transferral of ZonMW (in January 2019) there will be three rounds of placement procedures.

What will change however, is that researchers no longer will become FOM employees, but that funding will enable employment at universities or research facilities. All other FOM employees (with the exception of the FOM office employees) will remain employed by FOM, under the name NWO-I. The new NWO is located both in The Hague and Utrecht.

What will the new organisational structure look like?
The organisation will have a more efficient and transparent structure. The current science divisions and foundations will be clustered into four domains: Sciences (ENW), Applied and Technical Sciences (TTW), Social Sciences and Humanities (SGW) and Health Research and Medical Sciences (ZonMW).

Moreover all institutes will be clustered in the new NWO Institutes Organisation (NWO-I). This implies dividing the current FOM organisation into a granting part (with the former NWO divisions Chemical Sciences, Astronomy, Physical Sciences, Earth and Life Sciences) and a support organisation that will incorporate eventually all NWO institutes.

In the new structure decision-making will take place at the top in an Executive Board. This collegial management will be closely linked with the domains and institutes via four active researchers who will be members of the Executive Board, in addition to a president and a member for financial and operational matters. In addition, these four active researchers each chair one of the four Domain Boards. The Executive Board as a whole is responsible for the institutes, which is supported by the institute organisation.  The integral planning and strategy of the organisation as well as the budgets of domains and insitutes is the responsibility of the Executive Board. This will enable NWO's strategic positioning, to become more effective and to respond more flexibly to developments in science and develop a more coherent funding strategy.

What is the reason for a new NWO?
On 25 November 2014, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science published the Vision on Science 2025: choices for the future. The parliamentary paper had an advisory report as an annex, in which recommendations were made for changes to the organisational structure of NWO. The aim of these changes is to realise a more effective and less pluriform NWO organisation that has a greater multidisciplinary focus. On Monday 13 April 2015, NWO presented the new strategy memorandum to the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science, Sander Dekker. The Vision on Science and the NWO strategy were guiding documents for the transition of NWO.

What happened up till now?
A steering group is supervising the implementation process of the organisational changes at NWO. During the first meeting on Monday 18 May 2015, the steering group decided to appoint Wim van Saarloos as programme director transition NWO with effect from 1 June 2015. In this position he leads the transition to the new NWO organisation until 1 January 2017. The Steering group presented their Action Plan for the transition to a renewed NWO, and a summary of this plan, in October 2015.

The first phase of the Action Plan, the planning phase, covered the elaboration of the integral main design for the new NWO. This was realised through workgroups of NWO employees, who offered NWO stakeholders the opportunity to think with them.

On 23 March, the steering group approved the Integral Plan for the new NWO. The steering group also took a number of decisions needed to begin the Design Phase. This phases started the changes for the new governance and organisation of the new NWO.

The board transfer at NWO took place on 1 October 2016. The Governing Board transfered the governance responsibility to the new chair professor Stan Gielen and Caroline Visser.

On 21 december the FOM Governing Board took the final decision for the transformation of the FOM Foundation.

The new NWO law has become effective as from 1 February 2017. As from 1 January 2017 NWO started the new organisational structure and the other board members started. Braakman, Schouten en Van den Doel are chair of the Domains Science, Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES), Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). Geurts started on 1 January 2017 as chair of the independent Health Research and Development (ZonMw). The integration of ZonMw as fourth domain within NWO will start beginning of 2019.

De names of the supervisory council can be seen on the NWO website (in Dutch only).

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