Implementation support

ZonMw asks applicants to already address implementation and impact in the grant application phase. This is conducive to the relevance of the projects. From the start, project managers can describe how they achieve and demonstrate impact. This applies to all projects, ranging from fundamental research to implementation-oriented projects.


The type of implementation support required will vary by project type. This can be determined by looking at how four different areas can best be established: the four productive interactions. You can ask a ZonMw implementation expert to assist you in the design and implementation of your project. We have tools to help you do this:

  • Focus on impact and implementation with productive interactions.
  • Design for drawing up an implementation plan.
  • Information to create a path to knowledge utilisation or ‘impact pathway’.

Strengthening impact and implementation

We ask grant applicants to indicate clearly how they address implementation. This is often used to assess the relevance for practice. The applicant must then describe how the likelihood of suitability for use of their results will be as high as possible.

Barriers and accelerators

Implementation research has shown that the likelihood of results that are suitable for use is greater if the barriers and accelerators of implementation are known. This is why we ask project managers to indicate in their application how they act upon or intend to act upon four components, the productive interactions. We know that these productive interactions enhance the likelihood of suitability for use in policy, practice, education and research. These are:

  • Collaboration with relevant stakeholders (who will make use of the results?);
  • Co-funding to strengthen commitment and cooperation of stakeholders (are those who have an interest in the results being put into practice willing to share the costs?);
  • Delivery of usable knowledge products (is the form of the results appropriate for practice?);
  • Targeted dissemination and implementation activities (what are barriers and accelerators to practical application and how do you respond to them?).

Design of an implementation plan

The field of implementation has seen substantial development over the last few years. You can make use of this expertise to increase the likelihood that your results will be put into practice. Part of this is broadening the support base and including the needs of the relevant stakeholders and end-users of the results and involving them in the design and implementation of the project. Implementation requires a structured approach, which may include drawing up and using an implementation plan, implementation models and implementation theory. This page provides information on how to create an implementation plan, how to make usable knowledge products and how to design specific dissemination and implementation activities.

Making an impact pathway

ZonMw uses the path to knowledge utilisation or ‘impact pathway’ to show you how to address implementation in all the phases of your project. The basic principle is the benefits or future benefits for policy, research, education and practice. This can be enhanced by paying attention to the following in the planning, execution (or monitoring) and evaluation of a project:

  • relevance and quality (also known as: fostering responsible research practices)
  • the focus on four factors that increase the likelihood of the results being put into practice (productive interactions)
  • the path to knowledge utilisation; how can it be designed? (impact pathway).

This cyclical path to knowledge utilisation invites you to specify the four productive interactions for your own project and to apply principles from the Theory of Change (ToC), This is a strategy that defines how and why a desired change is expected to occur in a given context.

The ToC at ZonMw is depicted in an impact pathway focusing on the key question: what do you want to achieve with the project, why and when, and how and with whom? A pathway with underlying ToC is thus aimed at identifying or defining what is described as the ‘missing middle ground’, i.e. the route between what a project does in terms of activities and how these lead to achieving the intended goals and results (output, outcomes and impact).



If you have any questions, you are able to find our contact information below.


Nicolette Kok
implementatie [at]