The Agenda is “source of inspiration that challenges and stimulates the imagination of both researchers and society” wrote the cabinet to the House of Representatives on Wednesday. This is why it is pleased to provide this incentive.

The Dutch National Research Agenda can be described as a ‘road map’ for scientific research, containing around 140 questions on medicine, religion, aging, obesity, upbringing, transportation, sustainability, and much more. They have been categorised into 25 subject areas. The premise behind this is that these subject areas are not only interesting for fundamental research, they are also of direct importance to society. Therefore the cabinet wants to encourage scientists to focus on these subjects.

20 million euro for three subjects

The 32 million euro will be distributed by research funding organisation NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) and is paid for in part by science itself (specifically from the wage and pricing adjustment for the previous year). This breaks down to 15 million euro from NWO, 1 million from KNAW (The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), 8 million from universities, and 4 million from universities of applied sciences. The remaining 4 million is included in the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science budget.

The lion’s share of the funding (20 million) will go to three subject areas: ‘young people in a resilient society’, ‘digitalisation as a driver for innovation’ and ‘natural science knowledge as a source of innovative capacity’.

The remainder (5 million) will be spent on talent development policy, knowledge utilisation (also 5 million) and research related to the Agenda conducted by various Ministries in The Hague.

A remarkable step

This incentive is “the first step in implementing the Dutch National Research Agenda”, according to the cabinet. “A new cabinet can expand this initiative if it so desires by making extra resources available.”

It’s a remarkable step because initially, all parties involved (including the cabinet) tried to keep the Dutch National Research Agenda’s finances low profile. Even now the FAQ section of the website states “The Dutch National Research Agenda represents the content of the research agenda and does not contain a financial section.”

But earlier it emerged that universities would be required to link part of their research expenditures to the Agenda to the tune of 87 million euro annually. And lobbying already started for extra funding during the presentation of the Research Agenda: the scientific community would like an additional billion euro.