TOP grants are intended as a form of support for innovative lines of research to be performed by research groups with an outstanding track record. They are intended to give strong groups the opportunity to innovate in their research lines, in terms both of content and of collaboration. The attendant risks are acknowledged and indeed encouraged in the context of this programme.
The funding, up to € 675,000 per grant, can be used to pay for several scientific research posts, plus equipment loans and possibly support staff for a number of years (the guideline is five years). Several projects funded in this way can give a group’s research a new direction.
Twelve grants can be awarded each year. TOP grants attract the best research groups in the Netherlands. With the introduction of ongoing submission in 2006 we noticed that the pressure of applications reduced. This effectively means that applications now have more chance of being granted. Nevertheless, ZonMw is not able to fund all proposals that meet the strict quality criteria.
Every year, NWO makes funding available to its divisions and to ZonMw to strengthen and boost innovation in certain fields of science through an open competition mechanism. Open applications, national competition and peer reviewing form the pillars of the programme. ZonMw administers TOP grants in the medical, biomedical, health and health care sciences. TOP grants are intended as a form of support for innovative lines of research performed by research groups with an outstanding track record.
This programme offers strong research groups the opportunity to engage in new, risky lines of research. It therefore also supports combinations of disciplines and research groups. At ZonMw, TOP grants are part of the Open Programme. TOP projects are above all expected to deepen scientific understanding (enhance knowledge, form models and theories). ZonMw regards this unconstrained boost to science as the ideal way to drive innovation in the long term. A clear orientation towards health issues is therefore required, as reflected in the research question and the relevance to health of the expected outcomes (which may be on a timescale that exceeds the duration of the project).
Budget: € 5.900.000
Duration: 2005 2099
Researchers from Dutch universities, NWO and KNAW institutes, and the Netherlands Cancer Institute may apply for TOP grants. Staff of other research institutes may submit applications only if, in the opinion of ZonMw, they meet the following criteria:
· The institute is located in the Netherlands.
· The institute has a mandate to perform independent research.
· The institute is not-for-profit.
· The institute is collaborating with a university in performing the
research to which the application refers, as reflected in the
university’s contribution in terms of staff or equipment.
· The researchers are free to publish in scientific journals.
Applicants must also comply with the following rule:
· Each researcher may submit no more than one application a year.
In other words, once a researcher has submitted an application – irrespective of whether or not it is successful – he or she may not submit another application until one year after the date of receipt of that first application.
When applying for group-based grant programmes like TOP, careful consideration must be given to the question of who will act as main applicant. The reviewers and committee assessing the application will regard this person as the person who is to manage the project in both scientific and organisational terms. A more junior main applicant with only a short track record or little management experience entails a risk that the plan will score lower on feasibility.
Apart from an orientation towards health issues, no further relevance criteria are considered. The quality of the application is the only assessment criterion. Quality is assessed on the basis of the following sub-criteria:
A. importance and innovative value to science and society;
C. quality of the project group or combination of project groups;
D. chance of success
Special status of health sciences and health care
Health science and health care researchers are specifically invited to submit proposals. Health sciences and health care lag behind other disciplines in terms both of applications and of grants awarded. The ZonMw board wishes to redress this balance, and to ensure that health sciences and health care enjoy a proportionate share in the TOP programme.
Special status of health sciences and health careHealth science and health care researchers are specifically invited to submit proposals. Health sciences and health care lag behind other disciplines in terms both of applications and of grants awarded. The ZonMw board wishes to redress this balance, and to ensure that health sciences and health care enjoy a proportionate share in the TOP programme.