Encouraging science

The Dutch government provides more than €4.5 billion for scientific research every year.

Financial support for scientists

Most of the €4.5 billion provided by the government consists of block grants and project grants for:

  • research by universities and research centres;
  • international organisations such as CERN and ESA;
  • research in specific fields, such as university hospitals’ research into the causes of hereditary bowel cancer;
  • programmes to encourage or reward individual scientists, such as the Spinoza Prize and the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme;
  • large-scale research facilities and ICT infrastructure.

Some of the funding is allocated by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Basic research

Basic research is the systematic study of the causes and functioning of everything around us. In the years ahead, research into our brains, robotics and the social sciences, for example, will lead to new knowledge that will change society in unpredictable and unimaginable ways.

Scientists themselves decide what they spend their funding on and how they carry out their research. The government encourages competition and collaboration among researchers.

The government has been providing additional funding for basic research since 2014. Funding will rise to €75 million in 2017 and increase further to €150 million on a structural basis.

Research in top economic sectors

Government, industry and universities are working together to develop products and services that companies can market in the top economic sectors. The NWO allocates €275 million to this kind of research every year. The top sectors are giving higher priority to social issues.

Other forms of funding for research and development (R&D)

In addition to the €4.5 billion-plus provided by government, science receives about €7 billion from:

  • businesses and government institutions that commission research projects;
  • charities that raise money for research into particular diseases (such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases);
  • foreign sources (e.g. EU funds and the Horizon 2020 funding programme);
  • private individuals (gifts, donations and legacies for scientific research).

Science Weekend

Science Weekend is held every year in the first weekend of October. During the weekend, science centres, businesses, research institutes, museums and universities open their doors and invite the public to take a look in laboratories that are normally closed to visitors. The weekend is organised by the National Centre for Science and Technology (NCWT) with financial support from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

New science strategy

The Dutch government has set out its aims for 2025 and the measures it will take to achieve them in Science Strategy 2025: Choices for the Future (in Dutch). Parliament must still approve the plans.