Off-Road: doing research off the beaten track

Developing an innovative idea

The programme focuses on developing an innovative idea into a proof of concept. This means that while the developed idea has a long-term character, the project, on the other hand, is focused on testing the hypothesis behind the concept/idea and developing it into a proof of concept.

No lengthy project proposals

At the initiative of ZonMw, the Off-Road programme started in 2015. No lengthy project proposals, CV or bibliography, but instead a short and concise sketch of the revolutionary idea and motivated reasons about why the research should be done. Within this programme, connection needs to be sought with other ZonMw programmes for which groundbreaking research could be of interest.

Groundbreaking discoveries

With this grant, we challenge young (bio)medical and healthcare researchers to realise new insights into and unexpected breakthroughs for medical and/or healthcare research. We expect several of these experimental studies to result in groundbreaking discoveries and accept that this will not be the case for some Off-Road projects ('High Risk- High Gain' projects).

The proposals have a high-risk profile and do not follow beaten research tracks. Project proposals must describe an unconventional research direction in the start-up phase. Out-of-the-box ideas weigh most in the assessment, more than the researcher's CV.


  • ZonMw Research Programme Dementia (OPD)

Programme-specific information

The OPD programme is making extra budget available for proposals that focus on the subject of dementia. This concerns additional budget. Therefore, if several proposals fall within the margins for awarding then, in principle, two proposals can be awarded funding from the OPD budget and the rest from the Off-Road budget.

The programme is open to young researchers (2 to 6 years after PhD graduation).
The project has a duration of at least 12 and at most 18 months.
The maximum grant budget that can be applied for is €100,000.

Committee (for the complete list click at +)

Prof. Blanche Schroen

Dr Rik Ossenkoppele

Prof. Esther Aarts

Prof. Andre Dekker
Dr Jarno Drost
Dr Saskia Haitjema
Dr Frances Handoko - De Man
Dr Magdalena Harakalova
Prof. Irene Heijink
Dr Jordi Heijman
Prof. Sven van IJzendoorn
Dr Richard Lopata
Dr Ahmed Mahfouz
Prof. Natasha Maurits
Prof. Ingrid Meulenbelt
Dr Sanne Peters
Dr Debby van Riel
Prof. Jack Schalken
Dr Hans Ulrich Scherer
Prof. Hans Spelbrink
Dr Ralph Stadhouders
Prof. Régine Steegers-Theunissen
Dr Betty Tijms
Dr Stella Trompet
Prof. Alexander Vlaar
Dr Erik de Vries
Dr Rick Wansink

In progress
€ 1.000.000
Hesham Alghiwi
Programme manager
offroad [at]
Rochelle Tjok-A-Sang
Programme Secretary
offroad [at]
Jacqueline Steenwinkel
Programme Assistant
offroad [at]