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Knowledge safety

What is knowledge safety?

Knowledge safety is a broad term. It can be divided into 3 main categories:

  1. Undesired knowledge transfer: the transfer of knowledge and technologies as a result of which the national security (and sometimes the competitive strength) of the Netherlands can be threatened.
  2. Interference: (covert) influencing of academic education and research by or from within other states; as a result of this, academic freedom and the safety of students and researchers can be put under pressure.
  3. Ethics/integrity: collaboration with researchers in countries where the government does not, or does not sufficiently, respect human rights.

Knowledge safety at NWO-I

NWO-I wants the research that takes place at its institutes to be conducted in a safe manner and in a safe environment as well.

‘A safe manner’ is understood to mean that the academic core values of integrity and independence are respected during the realisation of research. In addition, it also means that the research results are, where possible, shared in the context of Open Science.

‘A safe manner’ is understood to mean that the academic core values of integrity and independence are respected during the realisation of research.

With the motto “Open if possible and protected if necessary”, NWO-I focuses on three aspects:

  1. Awareness of the need to protect the ‘crown jewels’ and academic values at all layers of NWO-I, and at all institutes.
    For example, knowledge safety was part of the NWO-I-wide Awareness Campaign in 2023.
  2. Safe design of the organisation.
    This concerns describing the processes in our organisation and improving, or creating processes to safeguard, the safety of our knowledge.
  3. Taking protective measures.
    ICT measures and knowledge safety guidelines are part of the protective measures. These guidelines are stated below.


One of the measures we use to protect ourselves is the knowledge safety guidelines.

Do you collaborate in an international context? Are you going on a business trip abroad or will you receive a visitor at your institute? Knowledge safety possibly plays a role in all these scenarios. The knowledge safety guidelines help you to itemise risks and provide instructions about what you must subsequently do.

There are four knowledge safety guidelines:

  1. international collaborations
  2. (foreign) business trips
  3. (international) visitors
  4. recruitment and selection

You can find the guidelines on your institute’s intranet. For employees from the NWO-I office, the guidelines are available via one of the members from the knowledge safety team stated below.


Contact persons

Are you in doubt about a situation, do you face a dilemma in your work or would you like to brainstorm about knowledge safety in your work?

Then please get in touch with the knowledge safetycontact person at your institute. Every institute has a knowledge safety contact person. The name of this person is listed on your institute’s intranet.

The knowledge safety contact persons from all institutes, together with the knowledge security team at the NWO-I office (see below), jointly form the knowledge safety advisory team. The advisory team discusses cases and provides advice about these cases and about other knowledge safety-related issues within the organisation.

Do you have any suggestions for the knowledge safety policy of NWO-I?

Then please contact the knowledge safety team at the NWO-I office.

The team has the following members:

Would you like to know more about knowledge safety?

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