This week, NWO awarded 34 Vici grants to Dutch scientists; each one is worth 1.5 million euros. Like last year, none of these grants went to Wageningen scientists. Henrieke de Ruiter, the policy staff member who supervises the NWO proposals, thinks this is simply bad luck.
<Photo: Leiden University>
The Vici grant is the one of the largest grants for individual scientists in the Netherlands. The funding is meant to enable scientists to develop their own innovative research line for the next five years and establish their own research group. Wageningen researchers such as John van der Oost, Bart Thomma, Erwin Bulte, Dolf Weijers and Thea Hilhorst brought in a Vici grant in the past years. There were three in 2015, but no other Wageningen researchers have been able to land a grant since.
Henrieke de Ruiter, the WUR policy staff member who helps researchers with their Vici proposals, cannot explain the decline. She calls it ‘bad luck’. That, and the fact that only three Wageningen researchers submitted a Vici proposal last year. That’s not a lot, thinks De Ruiter, but that is because few Wageningen researchers meet the requirements. Two of the three candidates had good papers, but despite this were not selected for a grant.
This year, 235 researchers submitted a pre-proposal for a Vici grant, out of which 138 researchers submitted a full proposal. 60 of these researchers were invited to explain their proposals in front of an evaluation committee. Based on recommendations by national and international scientists, 34 proposals were eventually selected for funding. This represents an award rate of 14.5 percent.