Updated: over 5 years ago
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Line of action : Science for society
Part of NWO Theme : Dynamics of�Complex Systems
Secretariat : EW
Participants : ALW, CW, MaGW, STW, ICTRegie
Apply : Yes, but at a later stage


The objective of the programme Complexity is to strengthen Dutch research into the dynamics of complex systems, create foci of in-depth knowledge and to form a community of researchers and users in the field of complex systems. The programme will focus on multidisicplinary research at the interface between scientific disciplines. Consequently the programme will specifically focus on realising new collaborations between research groups from different disciplines. The forming of the community shall be facilitated by setting up a joint educational programme. PhD students who work within the programme shall be required to participate in this educational programme. Complexity shall partly realise its objective by involving potential users of the research results in the scientific research process. Therefore within the programme there shall be particular attention for the possible utility of the research results. The contact between researchers and users shall be facilitated by means of annual workshops and conferences.

Who can apply

Funding proposals can be submitted by researchers from Dutch universities and NWO and KNAW institutes. The proposal is submitted on behalf of a research team by a single researcher (the main applicant) who is attached to one of the research institutes stated.

You should give a copy of your proposal to the director or dean of your institute. If you submit a proposal then NWO shall assume that you have informed your institute about this and that your university or institute accepts the funding conditions of this competition.

Further you should:

  • possess at least a Master's degree or the equivalent thereof;
  • have sufficient research experience;
  • be in a position to remain effectively involved in the research related to the grant application during the period for which a grant is applied for.

You may not concomitantly submit identical or very similar proposals during this call.

Women in particular are invited to submit proposals.

What can be applied for

The maximum available amount for this funding round is M€7. The programme predominantly funds research positions up to a maximum of K€500 per project.

The grant can be used for:

  • a PhD student or a two-year postdoc based on full time positions. An individual benchfee shall be awarded to each PhD student or postdoc towards the costs of items such as travel costs and the printing of a thesis;
  • research-supporting activities and equipment as long as the costs are between € 5000 and € 30,000. The equipment is explicitly intended for the project described in the proposal. The relationship with the project and the necessity of the equipment for this should be clearly argued;
  • necessary travel costs in relation to the research insofar as these are not covered by the benchfee;
  • travel and accommodation costs for foreign guest researchers who are relevant to the research;
  • Open Technology Programme (OTP) guidelines are applicable to proposals submitted under Compartment 2a.

When can be applied

The funding round consists of two phases:

  • the compulsory preproposal phase. In this phase you can submit abridged research proposals (preproposals). The guidelines for this can be found in Appendix 3.
  • the elaboration phase. The evaluation committee shall decide which applicants to invite to submit a full proposal. The guidelines for the full proposal can be found in Appendix 4.
  • Closing date for submitting preliminary proposals was 1 December 2009 at 12:00 hours
  • Closing date for submitting full proposals was 1 March 2010 at 12:00 hours

Extra Information

Researchers can submit proposals within three different compartments:

1. Question-driven research

2. Applied research

3. Curiosity-driven research

Compartment 1, Question-driven research
Proposals submitted within Compartment 1 should intend to carry out research targeted at the questions as formulated by the commercial sponsors of the programme. The research questions concerned are detailed in Appendix 2. These sponsors are represented in a special companies council formed for this programme. An amount of M€ 1 has been earmarked for funding question-driven research.

Compartment 2, Applied research
Proposals submitted within this compartment are clearly focussed on the applications of complexity research in industry or within society. The applicant can submit his/her full proposal according to the format described in Appendix 3. An alternative option is submission in accordance with the STW Open Technology Programme ( In this case preproposals must also be submitted in accordance with Appendix 3.

Compartment 3, Curiosity-driven research
Proposals submitted within this compartment, driven by theoretical scientific questions, can focus on any aspect of the following three research areas: Micro-macro, Complex Networks and Predictability.


The full proposals shall be assessed by the evaluation committee against the criteria scientific quality, innovation and relevance. The criteria carry equal weighting. The scientific quality of the proposed research shall be tested against the following characteristics:

  • scientific importance of the proposal;
  • clarity of the research objective;
  • competence of the research team, also in terms of cross-disciplinary research;
  • feasibility of the work programme;
  • relationship between the research objective and the resources applied for;
  • added value of the interdisciplinary cooperation;
  • urgency of the proposed research.

Innovation shall be apparent from proposals that lead to new concepts, a deeper understanding or new methods. The novelty could be in a new way of applying existing techniques and methods, as equally in the development of new techniques. The relevance of the proposed research shall be assessed against the following characteristics:

  • the research is relevant for non-scientific parties (of more importance for proposals submitted within compartments 1 and 2) and is relevant for scientific challenges within the theme;
  • the potential impact of the research on science and society is possibly high;
  • the level of the financial contribution from the commercial sector can be included in the assessment of the relevance.

If proposals are equally ranked at the end of the prioritisation process then preference shall be given to proposals in which one or more candidate researchers are already stated or if the main applicant of the proposals is a woman.


Assessment full proposals

The assessment committee shall prioritise the full proposals tasking into account the assessments of the international referees. Different procedures apply for the assessment of the full proposals within the three Compartments:

  • Compartment 2a: The assessment shall take place in accordance with the OTP procedure (i.e including STW jury reports).
  • Compartment 1: The industrial council shall subsequently select the proposals for funding in accordance with the available commercial budget and taking into account the results of the prioritisation.


The full proposals shall be assessed by an international assessment committee with representatives from universities and industry. The composition of the assessment committee shall depend on the number and heterogeneity of the proposals and shall be stated at a later stage on the website

Representatives from the participating NWO divisions as equally ICTRegie and Technology Foundation STW shall form the steering group for this programme. This steering group shall make a funding proposal for the divisions involved based on the advice of the assessment committee and the industrial council.

Additional information

Maximum of 7 million euros for this round.


NWO Divisions for the Physical Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Earth and Life Sciences and Social Sciences, and of Technology Foundation STW and ICTRegie

  • Ms drs. M.L. van Duin
    phone: +31 (0)70 - 34 40 921, e-mail:
  • Mr. dr. A.P. (Lex) Zandee
    phone: +31 (0)70 344 06 60, e-mail:
  • Mr drs. M.G. van Leeuwen
    phone: +31 (0)70 344 09 31, e-mail:


Complexity call for full proposals
This document (PDF, 25 pages) contains the call for full proposals for the Complexity programme.

last modified on 26 March 2012
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