Publications: Science Omega Review Europe Issue 2

Caring about the environment: the best conditions for research

University of Groningen
NWO seeks to realise its ambitions in two ways: by funding scientific research on a competitive basis, and through the efforts and facilities of the strong national institutes it manages.
Jos Engelen
The NWO believes that creating the best conditions for research will attract top researchers and investment to the Netherlands, writes Science Omega Review

In the Netherlands, universities play a vital part in the development of science and research. A report compiled by The Rathenau Instituut in October last year highlighted the value of universities in advancing knowledge.

‘The universities play a key role in our knowledge-based society. They teach and train students who will later enter the labour market, where they will put the knowledge and skills they have acquired at university into practice,’ the report argued. ‘The universities are also responsible for a considerable proportion of the academic knowledge acquired in the Netherlands. This is important for the development of an innovative society, greater social welfare, and solutions to social problems.’1

Under the auspices of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) provides grants to universities and research facilities, endeavouring to advance its research base. The Dutch research council aims to ‘advance the quality of research in the Netherlands’ through a number of methods.

NWO Chair Jos Engelen stresses that the "NWO seeks to realise its ambitions in two ways: by funding scientific research on a competitive basis, and through the efforts and facilities of the strong national institutes it manages.

"Scientific research and innovation form the basis of our wealth and wellbeing in the Netherlands," he explains. "NWO determines its policy in consultation with social partners, government and scientists.

"NWO’s vision is to work together with these stakeholders on the growth of scientific knowledge, knowledge that will genuinely benefit society both now and in the future." 2

The NWO follows five ambitions to realise its aims of increasing scientific knowledge:
  • Investing in talent and curiosity-driven research;
  • Collaboration in themes;
  • Facilitating knowledge utilisation;
  • International collaboration;
  • Making high-quality facilities accessible.
In keeping with this will to create the best environment in which to conduct research, and thus attract the best researchers in the world, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science this year released ‘Uncharted Frontiers: the Netherlands’ Roadmap for Large-scale research facilities’. Based on advice given by the NWO, the roadmap includes 28 large-scale research facilities and has an annual funding budget of €40m. The NWO will give a further €75m to projects next year.

"In our knowledge economy, scientists are looking for answers to the large questions. Next you must also be receptive to the possible applications," said Engelen about the large-scale facilities. "We fund research with money granted by the government, and therefore society. Consequently, in our democratic system, it is self-evident that we cannot turn away from society. We fund excellent science and take into consideration the boundaries that are desired within society." 3

Science Omega Review

[This article was originally published on 1st July 2013 as part of Science Omega Review Europe 02]


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Lets face it, so long as Theresa May is home secretary we're not likely to see any progressive change in drug policy in the UK. I mean, the woman just made Qat a class C drug against solid scientific evidence. Reminds me of the reclassification of cannabis as mentioned in this article. Can someone please give these politicians a good shake and make them see that what they're doing is extremely counterproductive! Argh!!

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