NWA-ORC insights… Part 2: The knowledge chain

NWA-ORC is the largest funding programme related to the Dutch National Science Agenda. All research topics are welcomed, as long as they are connected to the NWA. An important criterion is that the consortium should consist of partners spanning the entire knowledge chain. But what is this knowledge chain and how should you take it into account when drafting your proposal?

NWA ORC knowledge chain

What is the knowledge chain?

The knowledge chain as defined by NWO consists of various types of research: fundamental, applied, and practice-oriented. The so-called ‘knowledge-chain-wide approach’ means that collaboration between different types of research institutions is expected. The distinction between the different elements of the knowledge chain is operationalised in a very pragmatic way. All universities, UMCs, NWO and KNAW institutes are regarded as ‘fundamental’, while universities of applied sciences, TO2 institutes, and National Knowledge Institutes are regarded as ‘applied’ or ‘practice-oriented’.

Although societal partners (e.g. civil society organisations, businesses) are not part of the knowledge chain as defined by NWO, they are also expected to join the NWA-ORC consortium. Their explicit contribution as co-funding organisation of a project will further promote the general aim of the NWA: to optimise the flow of new knowledge from researcher to users and new questions from society to scientists.

Drafting your proposal

NWA-ORC projects should thus span the entire knowledge chain. Especially for more fundamental researchers, it can be challenging to attract partners from more applied or practice-oriented institutes. In my view, though, searching for the right partners is only a second step.

The first and most important step is: ensure your key question is formulated in such a way that different perspectives from different parts of the knowledge chain are required in order to provide an answer to it. If your aim is to tackle a societal problem, or to generate new insights as an essential step towards finding novel solutions of a societal problem, you will find that collaboration along the knowledge chain is indeed essential for a successful project.

Can we help?

Are you wondering what is the right key question for your proposal? Or can you use some help in ensuring the contributions from all consortium partners translate to one coherent proposal? Do get in touch, perhaps we can be of help.

Stay tuned for part 3 in this series: different roads towards impact

Author: Linde van Ittersum

Co-founder and Research Funding Professional at Fundament.

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