The prestigious grants of up to 1.5 million euros are for innovative research and for putting together a research group for that purpose. NWO awards around thirty Vici grants every year.
The first awards have already been announced “so as not to keep all the researchers in suspense for an even longer period”, according to NWO. The exact sciences & natural sciences will follow in mid-March, along with the social sciences and humanities.
NWO blames the delay on COVID-19. Not only did employees of the organisation itself fall ill, says a spokesperson, but the virus also affected committee members and referees who had to assess the applications.
The NWO Talent programme consists of Veni, Vidi and Vici grants, for researchers who have recently completed their doctorate, experienced researchers and advanced researchers respectively.
The system of grant applications is regularly criticised because researchers have to waste time and effort writing research proposals that in the end are not rewarded with a grant. From these two domains 91 researchers applied for a Vici grant; the percentage of grants awarded is 13%.
The announcement was delayed last year too, but for a different reason: hackers had crippled the systems.