31 research teams will be able to start their project thanks to funding from the ZonMw Competition round 2021, which has a total budget of €24.2 million. Each research team will receive an average of €750,000 for their project. Six of the research teams will receive an additional €250,000 for investment in infrastructure.

Furthermore, one of the project teams (led by Prof. Bloem; Radboud UMC) will receive extra funding from a collaboration with the sister research council Fonds Nationale de la Recherche in Luxemburg. All 31 research teams can use this funding to set up innovative collaborations that contribute to durable advances in fundamental (bio)medical science and healthcare.

Which subjects will be investigated?

The 31 research projects focus on a wide range of subjects. For example, how dopamine and serotonin systems in the brain jointly contribute to incentives for drug abuse, the threat of increasing bacterial resistance on the effective treatment of infections and the development of a new smart computer system that will allow doctors to spend more time with patients. Other projects will consider the causes and consequences of disrupted communication between the two halves of the brain following a stroke, and research and develop new methods of diagnosis and treatment for cirrhosis and cardiovascular diseases that will positively impact healthy ageing.

What is the programme ZonMw Open Competition?

The ZonMw Open Competition aims to create opportunities for curiosity-driven and creative collaboration, leading to ground-breaking science of exceptional quality in health research. The programme ZonMw Open Competition is specifically intended for researchers from two or more disciplines who facilitate excellent, synergetic team science. The proposals were therefore assessed and ranked for these aspects on the basis of both relevance and quality. As knowledge utilisation and participation are also important criteria, all proposals awarded funding put forth a convincing strategy for knowledge utilisation with well-considered plans for implementation and the participation of interested parties in the broadest sense of the word.

Extra funds available with effect from 2022

With effect from 2022, an additional amount of €60 million per year is allocated on a structural basis for the Open Competitions of the four NWO domains, which include Medical Research and Healthcare Innovation (ZonMw). How these extra funds were made available in the current round of funding was published on the web pages of the ZonMw Open Competition programme. Please note: the new subsidy round opens on 20 December and the deadline is 7 March for the project idea.

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