ZonMw promotes knowledge development and knowledge utilisation. To do this well, we assess the relevance and quality of the projects we fund. In this way, we ensure that projects deliver valuable knowledge and expertise. At the same time, we encourage project managers to interact with parties from practice, policy, education and research. By doing this, we increase the likelihood that this knowledge and expertise will actually be used, both during and after a project. We do this throughout the process (from planning, through monitoring to evaluation) and for all projects (from fundamental research to implementation projects).

What does this mean for project managers?

We expect project managers to work on – and provide insight into – activities that they carry out in their projects, aimed at strengthening impact. The video below outlines how ZonMw works with project managers to strengthen impact. The ZonMw Manual on Knowledge Utilisation sets out the contribution that ZonMw expects of project managers in the area of knowledge utilisation and the support that we offer to this end.

Download the manual knowledge utilisation

What does this mean for evaluators?

We expect evaluators to use the ZonMw Impact Assessment Framework as the basis for evaluating programmes. There is further information in the instruction document, including references to the theoretical foundation of the Framework.

Download the instruction document of the ZonMw Impact Assessment Framework

Core element: Fostering Responsible Research Practices

Without societally relevant and high-quality knowledge, you cannot achieve any impact. For this reason, ZonMw checks the relevance and quality of all projects. At ZonMw we call this fostering responsible research practices or responsible research and innovation. The ZonMw Framework Fostering Responsible Research Practices is a useful aid to checking relevance and quality. It contains two criteria (societal relevance and quality) with their associated indicators. There is more information about the development and content of the Framework on the page with Background Information.

Core element: Productive interactions

Productive interactions are factors of which we know that they increase the chances of knowledge utilisation in practice, policy, education and/or further research. In projects, you can use these factors in specific ways to increase the probability of achieving impact. This is why ZonMw focuses on these factors. For all factors, quality comes before quantity and a factor must always contribute towards the project goals.
The 4 impact factors are:

  • Collaboration with relevant stakeholders
  • Co-financing
  • Delivery of usable knowledge products
  • Targeted dissemination and implementation activities

ZonMw has made an overview of knowledge products and implementation activities. This is not a definitive overview, but project managers can use it for inspiration.

Download the list with knowledge products

Download the list with implementation activities

Core element: Impact pathway

An impact pathway is a description of what you wish to achieve with your project and why, when, how and with whom you wish to achieve it. In this description, you link together the intended impact goals, project goals and productive interactions. This gives you greater understanding of the route from knowledge development to knowledge utilisation.

You do not make an impact pathway on your own and it is in fact important to set it up together with a wide variety of parties. In addition, it is not something that you only do once. During the lifetime of your project, you will check regularly, together with other parties, whether this route is still the right one. Are you on the right track or are there changes that you need to respond to?

More information


Picture of Wendy Reijmerink

Wendy Reijmerink

Senior staff member Strategy and Innovation

+31 70 349 53 52
Picture of Natalie Stevens

Natalie Stevens

Staff member Strategy and Innovation

+31 70 349 53 71
Picture of Joey Gijbels

Joey Gijbels

Staff member Strategy and Innovation

+31 70 349 53 44
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