Public-private partnerships

ZonMw is a participant in agreements made with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (through NWO) in the context of the Mission-driven Top Sector and Innovation Policy. Top sector policy requires public-private partnerships (PPP) and co-funding. What do we have to offer in the area of public-private partnerships?

Mission-driven Top Sector and Innovation Policy

​​​​​​In the context of the Mission-driven Top Sector and Innovation Policy, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy has designated the theme Health and Care as one of the four major global challenges for the years ahead.

In 2019, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport drew up five missions under this social theme. This cluster contains one central mission and four specific missions. The central mission is directed at living longer in good health, with the goal of reducing the health differences between those with a higher and a lower socio-economic status. The other four missions contribute to this central mission by targeting changes in the living environment, providing more care in the right areas, and improving the long-term outlook for people with chronic disease and dementia. These missions have been given a time horizon up to 2040.

It’s up to the Dutch central government to take the lead in innovation. That is the idea behind mission-driven innovation policy: by working together on shared objectives with stakeholders in the field (businesses, knowledge institutions, civil society organisations and other levels of government), we commit ourselves to the health of the people of the Netherlands and beyond.

Life Sciences & Health

Life Sciences & Health is one of the top sectors under this policy, and is coordinated by Health~Holland. This top sector initiates and stimulates interdisciplinary research and development in public-private partnerships. For the years 2020-2023, Health~Holland has drawn up a knowledge agenda that contains the goals and ambitions for public-private collaboration in the area of health and care.

Targets of the theme Health & Care 2020-2023

  • In 2040, all Dutch people will live in good health for at least five years longer, and the health differences between the lowest and highest socio-economic groups will be reduced by 30%.
  • In 2040, the burden of disease due to living an unhealthy lifestyle or in an unhealthy living environment will be reduced by 30%.
  • In 2030, 50% more care delivery will be organised in a person’s immediate living environment instead of at a health care institution.
  • In 2030, the ability of people living with a chronic disease or lifelong disability to participate in society, according to their own desire and ability, will improve by 25%.
  • By 2030, the quality of life of people with dementia will improve by 25%.

Partnering with top sectors and health care funding bodies

ZonMw supports Top consortia for Knowledge and Innovation in Life Sciences & Health (TKI LSH) in composing and implementing public-private calls for grant applications; it also monitors and advises PPP projects funded with TKI resources. We programme and fund calls for grant applications in consultation with TKIs and, wherever possible, in collaboration with health care funding bodies, including private funders.

At the annual Life Sciences & Health PPP Day, organised together with Health~Holland, we inform a range of interested parties about new grant opportunities; we also advise on PPP projects currently running. A pertinent example is the Citizen Science programme. In addition, we regularly monitor the progress of all programmes initiated by NWO and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport that contribute to the top sector Life Sciences & Health.

Partnering with the creative sector

How can we develop knowledge for creative innovation in health care to help people stay healthy and active as they age? How can we link art and design with science and technology? Top sectors, research, creative industry and health care are coming together to find innovative solutions that carry social impact and to back a fast-growing group of young creatives whose work focuses on exploring new possibilities in biotechnology. The Create Health programme is a good example of this.


Calls for grant applications are more frequently asking that projects be co-funded. This means that, in addition to ZonMw’s financial contribution, project partners must also contribute to the project. Co-funding is often a feature of public-private partnerships. In such cases, ZonMw invests in a project together with other organisations to create more impact.

Further, ZonMw also conducts some programmes in partnership with other funding bodies. Two pertinent examples are the Translational Research programme, jointly funded by nine health care funds and the top sector Life Sciences & Health; and the Personalised Medicine programme, jointly funded by health care funds and the health insurer Zilveren Kruis. Collaborating on such programmes generates focus and mass.

NWO Knowledge and Innovation Covenant (KIC)

ZonMw works together with NWO, government, private parties, regional authorities and knowledge institutions. Together we are helping implement the Knowledge and Innovation Agendas (KIAs). By partnering with these parties, ZonMw is striving to help achieve good health for everyone.

NWO has devised instruments for the 2020-2023 KIC that provide funding to fundamental and practice-oriented research projects carried out by public-private partnerships. There are four main instruments: mission-driven calls; partnerships; strategic collaborations; and practice-oriented instruments. An amount of 118 million euros annually has been reserved for these projects.

ZonMw’s calls for grant applications KIA Health and Care

We develop and send out several general thematic calls for grant applications each year under the following KIAs.

  • Energy Transition and Sustainability
  • Agriculture, Water and Food
  • Health and Care
  • Security
  • Key Technologies
  • Social Capital

ZonMw is a contributor to the KIA Health and Care. In collaboration with NWO, ZonMw is conducting several calls for grant applications under the umbrella of this KIA. This includes the following calls in particular: ‘Care in your own living environment’; ‘Lifestyle and living environment’; ‘Living with dementia’; and ‘Early detection of cancer’.