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February 16th 2018

Physics Vrije Programma's are especially meant for top research with a convincing physics and/or applied physics objective, the realization of which requires a major deployment of human resources and funding (critical mass). It should therefore considerably exceed the size of, for instance, a project from the Physics Projectruimte. Physics Vrije Programma's give you the opportunity and freedom to carry out research on excellent, challenging and innovative themes. Other characteristics of Physics Vrije Programma's are a clear focus and a good cohesion. The emphasis on the creation of 'focus and mass' implies that the majority of the programmes consist of consortia in which groups by means of collaboration (coordinated consolidation of expertise and strengths) create added value compared to separate small-scale projects.

Who can apply
Applications can be submitted by (consortia of) professors and scientific staff with a tenured position at a Dutch university or a tenured position at NWO-I or another research organization that is partly financed with funding from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. You can also co-submit a proposal if you have a 'tenure track' position, a Vidi grant or a Vici grant. These applicants must, however, submit a declaration from the dean/director confirming they are likely to obtain a tenured position after the current temporary period. As an applicant or co-applicant you must agree with the management of your research institute beforehand whether a proposal can be submitted and how the programme can be incorporated in the operational management of the institute. A proposal from a NWO-I institute can only be submitted with the approval of the institute director.

What to apply for
A primary consideration is that the nature and size of the funds to be deployed for a Physics Vrij Programma, as well as its duration, are in a realistic proportion to achieving the scientific objectives set. The average run time of Physics Vrije Programma's is five years with an average budget of M€ 2.2. NWO also encourages you to submit smaller proposals (with a lower limit of M€ 1). The funds applied for are split in three categories: personnel positions, material budget and equipment. Partly because Physics Vrije Programma's by definition have a finite duration only personnel positions for temporary appointments such as PhDs, postdocs and technicians will be awarded funding. Material budget for instance includes consumables, support materials, costs or foreign trips and congress visits (including accommodation costs), organisation of workshops and so on. The costs of consumables, such as small and large/larger instruments, need to specified separately in your proposal.

When to apply

  • The deadline for submitting preproposals is Thursday 1 March 2018 at 14.00 hours CE(S)T.
  • The deadline for submitting full proposals is Tuesday 28 August 2018 at 14.00 hours CE(S)T.



During the assessment and selection of the programme proposals the assessment committee and the Executive Board of the Domain Science use scientific, programmatic and science policy/strategic criteria. The international referees will be asked to focus mainly on the scientific and programmatic criteria. The scientific, programmatic and science policy/strategic criteria emerge from the broad policy framework of the former Foundation for Fundamental Research in Matter (FOM), such as the Strategic Plan FOM/N 2015-2019. In the call text these criteria have been further detailed, but at all times the scientific quality must be convincing.

All programme proposals submitted (preproposals and full proposals) are in competition with each other. The ranking and selection process takes place in two rounds. In the first round the preproposals will be discussed by advisory committees who will interview the applicants. In the second round only the full proposals allowed to continue after the first round will be considered. The proposals will be sent to expert referees. Afterwards the assessment committee will interview the applicants and advises the Executive Board of the Domain Science on the proposals to be awarded funding. The entire assessment and selection procedure takes about nine months. More detailed information about this procedure can be found in the call text.

For digital submission we refer to the NWO website.