Human Capital Call

The call: "Human Capital: learning communities as an innovation accelerator" aims to acquire new knowledge about the optimal development and use of learning communities so that the interaction of working and learning leads to innovation. Learning communities facilitate connections between research, work, innovation and learning and are therefore an important factor in the development of the current and future working population. Development and transformation are a daily issue for the Dutch working population.

Strengthened human capital in the Netherlands is necessary to find answers to current and future societal issues, tackle challenges and permanently stimulate economic growth. The focus of this call is on existing, starting or developing learning communities. The learning communities to be investigated must be active in at least one of the three following contexts:

  • Energy transition and Sustainability
  • Health and Care
  • ICT

A total of € 2,628,467 is available for this call. The Top Sector Life Sciences & Health is one of the funding partners.

Information webinar

On Thursday July 22, a webinar is organised where applicants get more information on this call and have the opportunity to ask questions. The webinar will be in Dutch. More information and the registration can be found on the event page

For whom

Consortia consist of researchers at Dutch universities, universities of applied sciences and other research institutes in collaboration with public and private partners from professional practice. Within the consortium, at least the natural sciences and, in addition, the humanities and/or social sciences must be represented.

For each proposal, between € 750,000 and € 1,000,000 in funding can be requested. The proposal consists of a combination of modules selected by the applicant with regard to personnel, material and/or knowledge utilisation costs.


A total of € 2,628,467 is available for this call. 15% of the total project costs must be pledged in the form of co-funding. With the level of funding that can be applied for this amounts to between € 112,500 and € 150,000 in co-funding. The co-funding may be provided in cash, in kind or as a mix of these. At least 50% of the total co-funding must come from private sources.

A project may have a maximum duration of six years (72 months).


Pre-proposals are not required for this call. The deadline for submitting proposals is Tuesday September 14, 2021 at 2:00 PM CE(S)T.


Applications are assessed on the basis of four main criteria (see Call for proposals for subcriteria):

  1. Problem definition and analysis, contribution to solution (weighting 20%). A.o. link of proposal with characteristics of learning communities and research context, formulation and solution of innovation question.
  2. Expected impact and route to impact (weighting 20%). A.o. strategy for involving relevant stakeholders and end users, perspective on social and economic impact.
  3. Quality consortium (weighting 30%). Including expertise, interdisciplinarity, relevance of partners and collaboration.
  4. Quality of research (weighting 30%). A.o. scientific and methodological quality, innovative and interdisciplinary aspects and feasibility and appropriateness of the project design.


An assessment committee assesses all applications. The committee consists of independent experts from relevant scientific disciplines and non-academic experts in the field of practice-oriented research with teaching and training expertise in learn-work relationships. At least three referee reports are collected for each application, the applicants can respond to this with a rebuttal. Assessment criteria, application, referees' reports and rebuttal form the basis for an assessment per application. The committee prepares a ranking of all applications. Assessment and prioritisation lead to advice. The executive board of NWO will take a decision on the granting and rejection based on this advice.

For more information see the website of NWO.