Dutch Research Institutes

Research institutes

Para-university institutes: NWO and KNAW
A number of institutes that carry out academically-oriented research do so under the flag of two intermediary organizations: the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

NWO's mission is to enhance the quality and innovation of fundamental scientific research and to promote the dissemination of research results. NWO has nine institutes of its own in the fields of astronomy, mathematics and computer science, physics, history, marine sciences, law and criminality, and space research.

KNAW is responsible for the quality of science in the Netherlands. The KNAW (Royal National Academy of Science) is responsible for fifteen research institutes. The institutes are active in the humanities, the social sciences and the life sciences; one institute works at the interface of science and government policy. The Academy institutes are meant to play a leading role in Dutch and international research. They serve as national centres of expertise, manage unique infrastructures, and provide access to their collections, many of which are world-famous.

Institutes for applied research: TNO & GTI's
The Netherlands has several institutes for applied research. The largest institute is the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). TNO's mission is to make it possible to apply scientific knowledge for the benefit of the innovative capacity of companies and the government. Key TNO research fields are: quality of life, the defence and security of society, advanced products, processes and systems, sustainable use of space and the environment, and ICT and services.

The other five institutes for applied research are called Large Technological Institutes (GTI’s). The five GTI’s carry out research and related activities in a specific area. The group comprises the following institutes:

  • The Energy Research Centre in the Netherlands (ECN): research into nuclear and other forms of energy, energy and the environment, and materials;
  • Deltares: research into ports, coastlines, rivers, ocean and inland shipping, water management and the environment;
  • The Maritime Research Institute in the Netherlands (MARIN): research into shipbuilding, offshore and ocean engineering;
  • The National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR): research into aeronautics and space technology for civil and defence purposes.

Technological Top Institutes (TTI’s)
Nine institutes for executing collaborative projects between existing knowledge institutes and industry are in the Technological Top Institutes programme. These instututes carry out research into fields that are relevant to strong R&D-intensive sectors in the Netherlands and specific research topics of international relevance.

  • Telematica Instituut
  • Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI)
  • Material innovation institute (M2i)
  • Top Institute Food and Nutrition (TiFN)
  • Top Instituut Pharma (TI Pharma)
  • Center for Translational Molecular Medicine (CTMM)
  • TTI Groene Genetica
  • Technologisch Top Instituut Watertechnologie (TTIW)

Institutes in agriculture
Alongside Wageningen University, several institutes that were once part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) carry out agricultural research. These institutes were privatized in the second half of the 1990s under the umbrella of the Agricultural Research Service (DLO). They then entered into an alliance with Wageningen Agricultural University.

Ministerial institutes
A steadily declining number of institutes are still under the direct responsibility of ministries. For example:

  • The Ministry of Justice has its own internal Research and Documentation Centre (WODC).
  • The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) is an agency of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management (V&W).
  • The Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP) and the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) are part of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS).


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