Grants and Collaborations/contributions from third parties

ZonMw encourages collaborations within (research) projects in order to increase the impact of grants. Collaboration may involve a contribution in kind or in cash. Whatever the form of collaboration, it is important that the agreements made within the project comply with ZonMw's General Terms and Conditions, European State aid law and specific conditions of the call for applications. All these agreements must be appropriate legally stipulated.

This page provides guidance on how to set these agreements out properly and what to look out for. This information is intended as an aid in establishing (collaboration) agreements; no rights can be derived from this.

Collaboration and State aid

The grants awarded by ZonMw may not lead to unlawful State aid. Therefore, different conditions may apply to different forms of collaboration.

Collaborating parties may(unlawfully) benefit from the grant awarded to the recipient. Whether this advantage constitutes unlawful State aid depends on what kinds of parties are involved in this collaboration. 

More information about how ZonMw can lawfully grant state aid can be found on the ZonMw web page State Aid Exemption.


What is meant by the terms ‘Research Organisation’ and ‘Undertaking? These are explained below.

Research Organisation

ZonMw applies the definition from Framework for State aid for research and development and innovation and assesses independently whether a collaborating organisation meets the relevant conditions.
Summary of the main criteria of a research organisation:

  • The organisation's main purpose is to acquire/disseminate/teach knowledge;
  • Activities consist of fundamental/industrial research or experimental development;
  • The organisation's profits resulting from the grant-supported activities are reinvested in new research/development, education and/or knowledge dissemination;
  • Undertakings that can exert decisive influence on the research organisation (for example, as shareholders or members of the organisation) should not have any privileged access to the research capacity, research programme or results generated by the research organisation.


All other organisations that do not fall within the criteria of ‘Research Organisation’ are referred to as 'Undertakings'. This is in line with the concept used in European State aid law. It is broader than the term usually used in economic dealings. For example, hospitals, healthcare facilities, non-profit organisations and foundations fall under the definition of ‘undertaking’ used in European State aid law.

Types of collaboration and/or contribution agreements

The terms made within a collaboration may be set out in various types of (written) agreements. Below is a description of each type of agreement, the conditions they must meet, their required content and template, and what need to be provided ZonMw means by the term ‘co-financing’ in this context any contribution from a project partner (including a contribution from grant receiving parties) or sponsor.

Before suppling the grant application, it is important to consider the manner in which the parties will contribute or cooperate. Collaboration and other manners of contribution will need to be stated clearly in the application and the budget.

ZonMw has drawn up templates (in Dutch and English). It is not mandatory to use these, but it is highly recommended to do so. Any modifications must be immediately recognisable. To help you fill in the Consortium and Sponsorship Agreement templates correctly, ZonMw has drawn up instructions. Please read this carefully before completing the forms.

Letter of Commitment

In a Letter of Commitment, the project parties - other than the main applicant - commit to the pledged contribution for the proposed project. This contribution can be cash or in kind (including the undertaking of activities).

Content and conditions:

  • The Letter of Commitment must contain a description of the contribution in cash or in kind (including the activities) and indicate the capacity (collaborating party or sponsor). It may only contain one pre-condition, namely that the commitment only applies if ZonMw honours the grant application
  • Each collaborating or sponsoring organisation must provide a copy, except the organisation to which the main applicant is affiliated
  • The letterhead of the relevant participating organisation needs to be used
  • The Letter of Commitment must be addressed to the organisation to which the main applicant is associated
  • The Letter of Commitment must be signed by the person authorised to do so

What should be delivered when?

  • Signed Letter of Commitment
  • On submission of a detailed grant application

Consortium/collaboration agreement

In a consortium agreement or collaboration agreement (interchangeable terms for the same type of agreement), the project partners (also called the project group) lay down the conditions under which they will jointly carry out the project. These can be parties that (indirectly) receive a grant as well as parties that participate for their own account and risk.

Content and conditions:
This agreement must at least contain the conditions under which collaborating parties will make their respective contributions to the project. This needs to include at least the following points:

  • the contribution of each party to the costs of undertaking the project
  • the rules for the input of pre-existing knowledge
  • the rules for accessing the pre-existing knowledge during and after project completion
  • the distribution of rights to the results
  • publication obligation
  • reference to and declaration of applicability of ZonMw General Terms and Conditions and specific conditions stipulated in the call for applications

For further clarification see the Explanation to the Template

Please read the instructions carefully before filling in the Template.

What should be delivered when?

  • Final unsigned concept draft if requested by ZonMw
  • Signed version within period set by ZonMw

Sponsorship agreement

A sponsor is an organisation that does not actively participate in the undertaking of the project and only contributes (in cash or in kind). A sponsorship agreement sets out the terms agreed with this participating undertaking (the sponsor), which is therefore not part of the collaboration.

Content and conditions:

  • The conditions under which the sponsor contributes to the project must be clearly described.

Please read the instructions carefully before filling in the Template.

What must be supplied when?

  • Final unsigned concept draft when the grant is awarded if requested by ZonMw
  • Signed version within period set by ZonMw


If an applicant hires third parties to execute part of the project activities, this is regarded as an assignment. ZonMw does not consider this to be a form of collaboration. This must be set out in a written agreement between the applicant and the relevant third party/ies (at arm's length) stipulating that results need to be transferred to the applicant in advance. In addition, this means that the applicant must provide clarity in the application and budget about the costs to be incurred (including VAT). When entering into an assignment, the applicant must comply with the tendering rules that may be applicable.


ZonMw may request sight of the Consortium Agreement, Sponsorship Agreement, and/or Assignment Agreement in order to check that the terms thereof conform to the General Grant Provisions of ZonMw, European State aid law and specific conditions of the call for applications. The arrangements made in the various agreements must not lead to direct or indirect unlawful state aid. The agreements made must be in line with the ZonMw funding conditions and must not restrict them. The conditions related to the general aim of ZonMw to make results available to Dutch society at large (free of charge), to freedom of publication and the obligation to publish, are particularly important for this kind of agreement. These are provisions relating in particular to the input and use of existing knowledge, access to and transfer of results and publication and confidentiality thereof.

As an independent administrative body ZonMw needs assess whether there is a risk of unlawful State aid. In addition to the assessment of the agreement by ZonMw, the grant recipient will remain at all times responsible for ensuring that European State aid law is not violated and that the other conditions attached to the grant are met Acceptance of an agreement by ZonMw does not absolve the grant recipient of its responsibility to prevent any violation of European state aid law.

ZonMw is not part of the agreement. For help in drafting an agreement, applicants can contact the (legal) advice department of their organisation.