Building Blocks of Life

Full text

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Earth and Life Sciences

Chemical Sciences

ZonMw

FOM

Call for proposals

Building Blocks of Life

2016 1st round

The Hague, February 2016

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Contents

 

Building Blocks of Life

Introduction 1 

1.1

 

Background 1

 

1.2

 

Available budget 1

 

1.3

 

Validity call for proposals 1

 

Aim

Guidelines for applicants

3.1

 

Who can apply 5

 

3.2

 

Project consortium, private and public partners 5

 

3.3

 

What can be applied for 6

 

3.4

 

Conditions for matching 6

 

3.5

 

When can applications be submitted 7

 

3.6

 

Drawing up an application 7

 

3.7

 

Specific conditions 8

 

3.8

 

Submitting an application 8

 

Assessment procedure

10 

4.1

 

Procedure 10

 

4.2

 

Criteria 12

 

Contact and other information

14 

5.1

 

Contact 14

 

5.1.1

 

Specific questions 14

 

5.1.2

 

Technical questions about the electronic application system ISAAC 14

 

5.2

 

Other information 14

 

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1

Introduction

1.1

Background

Building Blocks of Life is a cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral programme of the NWO divisions: Earth and Life Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Physics, and Medical Sciences as well as the

participating Top sectors Agri & Food, Chemistry, High Tech Systems & Materials, Life Sciences & Health, and Horticulture and Propagation Materials. Within the top sectors, industry, knowledge institutions and governments are working together on knowledge and innovation, in terms of topics and funding. The agreements about this are recorded in the so-called innovation contracts of the participating top sectors. The first call was funded under the Dutch Knowledge and Innovation Contract 2016-2017 (http://www.nwo.nl/documents/nwo/nederlands-kennis-en-innovatiecontract-2016-2017).

This programme is targeted at research that aims to gain a fundamental understanding of cellular systems from the perspective of molecular building blocks. This knowledge will lead to a wide range of potential applications in many areas: healthcare (e.g. personalised medicine), qualitatively and quantitatively improved food supplies, sustainable crop production, hybrid techno-biological systems, novel materials, organisms that can perform new tasks under extreme conditions, et cetera.

A long-term, coherent interdisciplinary approach is required to tackle these large and urgent scientific, economic and societal challenges. NWO therefore wants to bring researchers from different disciplines together with private parties in public-private partnerships (PPP). With these consortia, fundamental, precompetitive research in the area of understanding and utilising (multi)cellular systems can be stimulated. Due to the close collaboration with private parties in fundamental research, widely deployable possibilities will be created for future R&D in the Top Sectors Agri & Food, Chemistry, High Tech Systems & Materials, Life Sciences & Health, and Horticulture and Propagation Materials.

In view of the PPP character of this programme, the first call will require a matching from at least one private party. The selection of applications will take into account the fit to the focus of the programme, the quality and interdisciplinarity of the project consortium and the research proposal, and the economic and societal impact. With this approach NWO will contribute to the realisation of the top sector policy.

1.2

Available budget

The available NWO funding budget for the first call of this programme is M€ 10.75. Part of this budget (5%) will be used for networking and valorisation activities.

This budget is intended for projects with a duration of two to five years that will be realised by knowledge institutions in collaboration with private partners. The private partners will have to contribute at least 10% of the project budget needed. This matching can consist of a contribution in cash or in kind, or a combination of both (See Section 3.4).

Only proposals that are assessed as very good are eligible for a grant. This could imply that the budget available for this call will not be used in its entirety.

1.3

Validity call for proposals

This call for proposals is valid until the closing date of 14 April 2016 at 15.00 hours (Central European time).

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2

Aim

With this call NWO intends to strengthen the interdisciplinary connection between researchers and private partners so that they can jointly understand the building blocks of life, from molecule to organism, and use this knowledge for challenging innovations with a large societal and economic impact.

NWO has formulated Building blocks of life as one of the challenges for Dutch science and society for the strategy period 2015-2018.

With the programme 'Building Blocks of Life' NWO intends to encourage new fundamental precompetitive research projects to increase the knowledge base and stimulate applications. By collaborating with the top sectors, scientific excellence can be combined with economic

profitability. Such a policy is relatively new. The challenges of the programme 'Building Blocks of Life' tie in with and strengthen the Top Sectors Agri & Food, Chemistry, High Tech Systems & Materials, Life Sciences & Health, and Horticulture and Propagation Materials. The research questions anticipated for Building Blocks of Life fit in well with the Dutch Science Agenda (NWA).

Knowledge of the molecular basis of life has increased spectacularly thanks to technological breakthroughs in physics, chemistry, biology, ICT and systems analysis of ’big data’. By consolidating this expertise from different scientific disciplines, Dutch science is now in an excellent position to take a decisive step forwards in the fundamental understanding of cellular systems from the perspective of their molecular building blocks. This knowledge enables us to create adapted, improved or new forms of life for specific purposes. With detailed understanding of the structure, dynamics and activity of individual molecules and cells, one can envision that, for example, innovative methods and mechanistic modelling permit the generation of a minimal cell or organ. Challenging innovations can be foreseen in various scientific areas: healthcare (e.g. personalised medicine), qualitatively and quantitatively improved food supplies, sustainable crop production, hybrid techno-biological systems, novel materials, production of organisms that can perform new tasks under extreme conditions, et cetera. This series of societal and technological challenges requires ground breaking scientific research that is broader than the individual

components. For our society as a whole, it is vitally important that the Netherlands play a leading role in this development by consolidating expertise and realising close collaboration between researchers from different disciplines and private partners, such as companies and health funds.

Within the programme, meetings will be organised for the research field, industry, health funds and end users (for example, clinicians, pharmacists or patient associations) to discuss ideas within the framework of this programme and to explore the possibilities for public-private

partnerships. This will contribute to the establishment of a national consortium for Building Blocks of Life and maintain and strengthen the knowledge and economic position of the Netherlands in this field.

A more detailed description of the theme is given in the manifesto 'From Building Block to Life: Understanding and Utilising (Multi-)Cellular Systems’ (Annex 6.1). This theme will bring us closer to understanding the basis of life . This development will potentially have a major societal impact and raises questions about risks and ethical issues. Research within the NWO programme 'Responsible Innovation' identifies such ethical and societal aspects of technological innovations (products and services) at an early stage so that these can be taken into account during the design process. This ensures greater support within society and prevents unnecessary failure of innovations. Therefore, within the NWO Responsible Innovation programme additional funding can be requested to perform early-phase research into ethical and societal issues related to the Building Blocks of Life projects submitted. The corresponding NWO Responsible Innovation proposal should be separately submitted. The NWO Responsible Innovation call for proposals will be published in March 2016 at the NWO Responsible Innovation website

http://www.nwo.nl/en/research-and-results/programmes/responsible+innovation . Until that time one can find a short description on the website of NWO Building Blocks of Life.

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3

Guidelines for applicants

3.1

Who can apply

Each project proposal is submitted by one principal applicant on behalf of the project consortium of researchers and private partners. The conditions for submission and the awarding of grants apply to the principal applicant and the co-applicant(s). The principal applicant is responsible for the scientific coherence, the results and the financial accountability.

Researchers appointed at one of the knowledge institutions stated below may act as a principal applicant:

 Dutch universities;

 KNAW and NWO institutes;

 the Netherlands Cancer Institute;

 the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen;

 Researchers from the Dubble beamline at the de ESRF in Grenoble;

 NCB Naturalis;

 Advanced Research Centre for NanoLithography (ARCNL).

Principal applicants should:

‐ hold a doctorate degree and/or be a professor;

‐ have a paid employment contract at the knowledge institution for at least the duration of the application process and the research for which the funding is applied.

An exception to the required length of the employment contract can be made for:

 the principal applicant, if he or she has a tenure-track appointment that still covers at least

half of the project duration. In that case the applicant must demonstrate in a letter that sufficient supervision for the entire length of the research project will be guaranteed for all researchers for whom funding is applied for in the project.

 co-applicants, if they can demonstrate that sufficient supervision for the entire length of the research project will be guaranteed for all researchers for whom funding has been applied for in the project.

In this round a researcher can submit no more than one application as a principal applicant or co-applicant.

3.2

Project consortium, private and public partners

The project consortium is a coordinated combination of expertise and strengths from at least two academic researchers (with an appointment at a knowledge institution recognised by NWO, see Section 3.1) coming from different disciplines and one private party. The content of the research must fall within the objectives of at least two of the participating top sectors as described in the respective Knowledge and Innovation Agendas (KIAs). These can be found on the websites of the various top sectors via http://topsectoren.nl/.

The collaboration between different disciplines in the project consortium must have an innovative character and a clear added value compared to existing collaborations (see also the assessment criteria in Section 4.2). Collaboration between adjacent subdisciplines is not an obvious choice.

The private partners make a financial contribution of at least 10% of the project costs. Public parties can also be part of the project consortium.

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Chapter 3: Guidelines for applicants / Building Blocks of Life

NWO considers a contribution to be private if it is not directly or indirectly paid for by government funding, in accordance with the EU framework for state support. International private parties can also participate.

NWO considers institutions that are not research institutions recognised by NWO (i.e. institutions that may not submit proposals to NWO such as TNO and DLO) and that do not belong to the category of private parties to be public partners.

3.3

What can be applied for

Funding, including the contribution in cash by partners, can only be used for:

‐ temporary, scientific personnel (PhDs and postdocs) employed by a public knowledge

institution, which is part of the consortium applying for funding. Personnel costs are funded in accordance with the most recent version of the ‘Agreement for Funding Scientific Research’. For every PhD and/or postdoc a bench fee of € 5000 is available from the NWO funding. ‐ temporary non-scientific personnel. The 'Agreement for Funding Scientific Research' also

applies to them.

‐ material costs related to expenses that are necessary for the realisation of the research. Costs for knowledge transfer1, valorisation and instruments for the research can to a limited extent be budgeted to the NWO grant. The total expenditure for material costs may not exceed 40% of the NWO funding applied for.

The total duration of the entire project with one or more PhDs and/or postdocs (minimum 0.5 fte) is at least two and at most five years.

The maximum amount of NWO funding that can be applied for is k€ 500 for consortia with two academic partners, k€ 750 for consortia with three academic partners and k€ 850 for larger consortia.

The participating knowledge institutions and partners should use own funds to cover the costs of the necessary infrastructure and the supervision of the project staff. For exceptional cases or in

case of doubt please contact us via bbol@nwo.nl.

3.4

Conditions for matching

In each project consortium, matching from at least one private party is required. In addition, several private and/or public parties can participate in the consortium. The private partners in the project consortium should jointly contribute at least 10% of the total project costs (total project costs = NWO funding + 10% private contribution). Contributions from private parties can be both in cash as well as a combination of in cash and in kind. The total private contribution in cash must be at least 5% of the project costs. Additional contributions in cash and/or in kind are possible as a result of which the private contribution becomes greater than 10%.

Private partner(s) from the SME sector can contribute fully in kind. However, if the project consortium consists of several private partners and not all of them are from the SME sector then the criterion that at least 5% of project costs must consist of a private cash contribution still applies. As long as the total matching equals the requested ratio of NWO funding – matching, no

1 If you are considering requesting funds for the organisation of a workshop the please bear in mind that special conditions apply for workshops at the Lorentz Center in Leiden. In that case please contact bbol@nwo.nl in advance.

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other rules have been set for the type or proportion of the matching that has to be made by each matching partner concerning which type and which part of the matching each partner must contribute,.

NWO will invoice the cash contributions. Contributions in kind should be accounted for in

retrospect. As contributions in kind, NWO accepts personnel hours or material contributions such as the use of specific infrastructure, software and access to facilities. However a condition is that these must be capitalised and form an integral part of the project plan. For further information about this see Annex 6.2 (Regulation contributions in kind).

The contribution of the private and public partners must be apparent from the description of the project, the planning, and the budget of the proposal. Project management, supervision, coordination and consultancy are not eligible as matching. Public partners such as DLO and TNO can contribute their own private funding and the activities related to this but these do not count towards the 10% matching criterion.

Contributions in the form of matching through co-funding partners must be confirmed in a letter from the partner concerned. This letter must consist of an explicit pledge of the agreed-upon financial or capitalised personnel and/or material contribution. The amounts stated in the letter must agree with the amounts stated in the budget of the application. The letter must be signed by an authorised person and be printed on the partner's letter paper. For each partner one letter should be added to the application as an annex.

A condition for awarding funding is that the partners have drawn up a consortium agreement concerning issues such as confidentiality and IP rights. This project agreement should be drawn up in accordance with the NWO Framework for PPPs (see Annex 6.3). A project awarded funding can only start once NWO has approved the project agreement.

3.5

When can applications be submitted

This call for proposals is valid until the closing date of 14 April 2016 at 15.00 hours (Central European time).

3.6

Drawing up an application

Your application consists of two parts: the application form and one or more commitment letters from the partners.

An application is submitted as follows:

‐ download the application form from the online application system ISAAC or from the NWO website

‐ complete the application form.

‐ save the form as a PDF file and upload it in ISAAC.

‐ Add one or more letters as a PDF in which the consortium partners (in English) explicitly confirm the nature of their contributions to the project.

The application should be written in English in a standard font (at least 11 points, with the exception of the references which may be in a 9 point font). References to external documents (with the exception of references) should be avoided.

When writing your proposal, please bear in mind that it will be read by expert referees as well as a more broadly composed international assessment panel.

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Chapter 3: Guidelines for applicants / Building Blocks of Life

3.7

Specific conditions

General guidelines and conditions:

The ‘NWO Regulation on Granting’ and the ‘Agreement on Payment of Costs for Scientific Research’ apply to applications.

NWO Code of Conduct on Conflicts of Interest

The ‘NWO Code of Conduct on Conflict of Interests’ applies to all persons and NWO personnel involved in the assessment and decision-making procedure for this call for proposals.

Rules for public private partnership:

At the request of the Dutch government, NWO, KNAW, TO2, VSNU, Vereniging Hogescholen, VNO-NCW and MKB Nederland have formulated rules for public-private partnerships in the programming and conduction of fundamental and applied research and for intellectual property. This programme is PPP variant 2 (specific form).

NWO Framework for Public-Private Partnerships (see Annex 6.3):

NWO has adopted a framework for public-private partnerships that describes the minimum requirements for project agreements. These relate to recording arrangements on the

consortium’s governance, finances, publications, intellectual property, liability and disputes. The starting points used by NWO with regard to intellectual property (IP) and the transfer of

knowledge are described in this PPP Framework. With regards to IP, model 1 will be used in this call for proposal, which means that NWO does not claim joint ownership of IP. Within model 1, option 1 (appropriate reflection) as well as option 2 (parties’ right to their own results) may be applied in this call.

When a researcher submits a proposal, the consortium partners need to confirm that they have read the PPP framework document, including NWO’s rules concerning IP and the transfer of knowledge as described in that document. An approved project can only start when the

consortium partners have concluded a consortium agreement in accordance with the framework document.

Start project:

If the proposal is awarded funding then the consortium partners must satisfy several conditions before the project can start, namely:

- The consortium partners should confirm their contribution in cash and payment frequency in writing by means of a letter to NWO;

- The partners in the project that provide a contribution in cash should transfer the first part of the contribution in cash to NWO;

- The consortium partners must draw up a consortium agreement in accordance with the NWO Framework for Public-Private Partnerships (see Annex 6.3);

- The consortium partners should send a PIF (Personnel Information Form) to NWO.

Within six months of the project being granted funding, the consortium partners must have fulfilled these conditions and the project must have started with the appointment of the first PhD or postdoc. If this cannot be realised on time the grant awarded can be withdrawn.

3.8

Submitting an application

Applications can only be submitted via the online application system ISAAC. Applications not submitted via ISAAC will not be admitted to the selection procedure. A principal applicant is obliged to submit his/her application via his/her own ISAAC account. If the principal applicant does not yet have an ISAAC account, this should be created at least one day before the

submission. If the principal applicant already has an ISAAC account then he/she does not need to create a new account to submit a new application.

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When you submit your application in ISAAC you will need to enter several additional details online. Make sure you allow sufficient time for this.

For technical questions, please contact the ISAAC helpdesk, see Section 5.2.1.

You can state a maximum of three names of people who may not act as an external referee for your proposal (also referred to as ‘non-referees’). These can be researchers as well as

representatives from private and public parties. You may state the names of any non-referees in ISAAC.

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Chapter 4: Assessment procedure / Building Blocks of Life

4

Assessment procedure

4.1

Procedure

In accordance with the agreement between NWO and the VSNU, applicants should inform their institution about their project proposal. The applicant should send a copy of the application to the scientific director or dean of the institution or faculty. For each proposal submitted, NWO will assume that the applicant has informed the institution and that the university or the institute accepts the granting conditions that apply to this programme.

The NWO Regulation on Granting includes a clause which states that all research funded by NWO must be realised in accordance with the nationally and internationally accepted standards for scientific conduct as stated in the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice 2012 (VSNU). The Regulation on Granting can be found on the NWO website. Further information about the NWO policy on scientific integrity can be found on the website:

http://www.nwo.nl/en/policies/scientific+integrity+policy.

4.1.1 Eligibility of the applications

The first step in the assessment process is to determine whether the application is eligible. This is done using the criteria formulated in Section 3. The consortium can be requested to provide additional information about the participating consortium partners.

NWO shall not process any applications if one or the following aspects applies:

‐ the application was not completed correctly or in full and the applicant failed to comply with the request to submit a corrected application by the relevant deadline;

‐ the application is not in English;

‐ the principal applicant does not fit the description given in Section 3.1; ‐ the consortium does not fit the description given in Section 3.2; ‐ the matching does not satisfy the conditions stated in Section 3.4;

‐ the application is not in keeping with the aim of this call for proposals as described in Section 2;

‐ the application was not submitted via ISAAC; ‐ the application was submitted after the deadline;

‐ the project cannot start within six months of the grant being awarded.

If correction of the application is possible, the applicant will be given 48 hours to modify the application. If the application is not corrected by the set deadline, it shall not be processed. Following approval, the corrected applications will still be admitted to the assessment procedure.

4.1.2 Assessment of project proposals

The assessment consists of two phases:

Phase 1: Referees' reports and rebuttal.

For each proposal at least two international referees will issue an advice based on the applicable criteria. For each proposal a maximum of three persons can be excluded as a referee. Applicants will receive about 5 working days to respond in writing to the assessment reports of referees, the so-called rebuttal.

Phase 2: Assessment by the assessment panel.

NWO will appoint an independent assessment panel that will consider all of the proposals. It will be made up of international, renowned and independent scientists from the scientific disciplines and representatives from the public and private sectors.

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The assessment panel will use the proposals, comments from the referees and the rebuttals to reach an independent assessment of the proposals. The role of the assessment panel differs from that of the referees because unlike the referees they see all of the proposals, referees' reports, and rebuttals. The assessment panel can therefore reach a different assessment than that of the referees. The members of the assessment panel discuss all of the proposals based on the

applicable criteria (see Section 4.2) during a meeting. The panel will adopt a portfolio approach in which a set of high-quality proposals that cover the entire breadth of the programme will be chosen. This will result in an assessment advice for every proposal and a recommendation for the prioritisation of all proposals. An application in this call with a connecting admissible application in the NWO Responsible Innovation call will have an advantage over an application without a connecting admissible application in the NWO Responsible Innovation call. This is only effective for applications in this call where an application in the NWO Responsible Innovation call is appropriate. The assessment panel will have access to the admissibility check of the relevant proposals in the NWO Responsible Innovation call.

4.1.3 Decision

The assessment panel issues a recommendation to the steering committee about the assessment and prioritisation of the project proposals. Based on this recommendation the steering committee will take a granting decision.

The NWO Code of Conduct on Conflicts of Interest applies to all persons and relevant NWO personnel involved in the assessment and/or decision-making processes.

NWO gives all full proposals a qualification. This qualification will be made known to the researcher together with the granting decision. For further information about the qualifications please see:

http://www.nwo.nl/en/funding/funding+process+explained/nwo+qualification+system.

If a large number of proposals is submitted compared to the number of proposals that can be awarded funding, then the steering committee can decide to make a preselection of all proposals submitted. This happens if the number of proposals submitted is four times more than the number of proposals that can be granted.

In the event of a preselection, the proposals will be broadly assessed by the assessment panel against the selection criteria (see Section 4.2). The selection panel will give the applicant the opportunity to submit a rebuttal and subsequently advises the steering committee. Based on this advice the steering committee will decide which proposals with a lower funding chance will be rejected.

4.1.4 Summary of the procedure:

1. The principal applicant submits the proposal via the electronic submission system ISAAC. 2. NWO determines the eligibility of the proposal.

3. NWO sends the eligible proposals to independent international experts for advice a referee report.

4. Based on the referee reports received, applicants submit a rebuttal.

5. Proposals, referee reports and rebuttals are sent to the international panel for assessment. 6. The international panel sends it prioritisation together with the arguments for this as an

advisory report to the steering committee.

7. The steering committee checks the assessment process and decides on the basis of the advisory report from the international panel and the available budget which proposals to award funding and which to reject.

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Chapter 4: Assessment procedure / Building Blocks of Life

4.1.4 Timetable

February 2016

14 April 2016

Publication of the call

Deadline for submitting a proposal

May - July 2016 Consultation of referees

August 2016 Rebuttal by applicants. On average

researchers will receive five working days to respond.

September 2016 Assessment panel evaluates and prioritises the project proposals

October 2016 Steering committee decides about awarding/rejecting proposals

Spring 2017 Meeting awarded projects Building Blocks of Life

4.2

Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated against the following criteria: 1. The fit within the focus of the programme; 2. Scientific quality;

3. Added value of the consortium;

4. Potential for societal and economic application.

All of the criteria above carry an equal weighting in the assessment and

prioritisation. NWO uses scores on the scale of 1 (excellent) to 9 (poor). For each criterion a single score is given. To be eligible for funding a proposal must on average score at least very good (1.5-3.5) for the criteria stated above.

1. The fit within the focus of the programme.

The manifesto ‘From Building Block to Life: Understanding and Utilising (Multi-)Cellular Systems’ (see Annex 6.1) broadly describes which

developments should be stimulated with this call (and which not). The aim of this call is described in Section 2.

2. Scientific quality

a. The scientific quality of the proposed research: i. innovativeness of the research; ii. scientific approach;

iii. scientific relevance;

iv. clarity and feasibility of the scientific objectives. b. The quality of the consortium:

i. track record of public partners; ii. track record of private partners;

iii. availability of expertise and infrastructure required; iv. sufficiency/need for budget requested.

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3. Added value of the consortium: a. Adequate size;

b. Synergy and added value of the collaboration;

c. Clear and effective organisation structure and clear project management.

4. Potential for societal and economic application:

a. Impact for society, industry and the research landscape;

b. Prospects for innovation and/or the application of the results in both the short and long term.

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Chapter 5: Contact and other information / Building Blocks of Life

5

Contact and other information

5.1

Contact

5.1.1 Specific questions

For specific questions about this call for proposals please contact:

Dr Marjolein Lauwen

Telephone: +31 70 349 4449

E-mail: bbol@nwo.nl

5.1.2 Technical questions about the electronic application system ISAAC

For technical questions about the use of ISAAC please contact the ISAAC helpdesk. Please read the ISAAC manual before consulting the helpdesk. The ISAAC helpdesk is available from Monday to Friday from 10.00 to 17.00 hours on +31 900 696 4747. Unfortunately not all foreign phone companies allow you to phone to a 0900 number in the Netherlands. You can also send your question by e-mail to isaac.helpdesk@nwo.nl. You will receive a response within two working days.

5.2

Other information

Annexes

6.1 Manifesto 'From Building Block to Life: Understanding and Utilising (Multi-)Cellular Systems’

6.2 Regulation contributions in kind from private parties 6.3 NWO Framework for Public-Private Partnership

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6

Annexes

6.1 Manifesto

From Building Block to Life

Understanding and Utilising (Multi-)Cellular Systems

Introduction

How do biochemical reactions proceed in living cells? Can we adapt a living cell in such a way that it can carry out new tasks for us? Can we use the molecular components of living cells for the

construction of novel materials and perhaps even devices? Can we design a living cell? And how can we use this knowledge to improve health, welfare and care, and to prevent diseases? These

fascinating questions have been identified by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) as some of the main scientific challenges of this time. A fundamental understanding of cellular systems at the molecular level and the possibility to utilise that knowledge at a high

integration level within many areas of application, stretching from healthcare to bioenergy, will have a considerable scientific and societal impact. We are of the opinion that by consolidating its

expertise, Dutch science is in a position to make decisive steps forwards in this area.

Just like many of the major scientific and societal challenges of our time, such as the energy issue, the ageing population and healthcare, the scarcity of materials, and environmental issues, this challenge can only be tackled via an interdisciplinary strategy. In biology, where understanding life plays a pivotal role, developments in adjacent disciplines such as chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science have in recent years made a clear contribution. Partly as a result of this, biology is able to answer increasingly more complex questions. These developments have also strengthened the interaction between biology and the medical sciences. A good example of this is systems medicine (systems biology methods applied in clinical practice), with which insight into individual cellular heterogeneity at a systems level has resulted in more personalised therapies and improved imaging techniques. The combination with smart biological probes enables more precise and sensitive detection of disease processes. The integral systems biology approach is also having a major impact on insights into the effects of nutrition on human health but also on the functioning of plants and of microorganisms. This has, for example, lead to improved plant cultivars and cultivation methods, and the implementation of biotechnology for sustainable production processes of both bulk and fine chemicals.

The Netherlands wants to further extend its strong position by tackling major life sciences questions (‘What is life?’) and societal challenges (‘How do we improve the quality of life?’) and as a result of this to realise new discoveries and applications. The various divisions that make a contribution to the life sciences, namely Earth and Life Sciences (ALW), Chemical Sciences (CW), Physics (N/FOM) and Medical Sciences (ZonMw), are joining forces to facilitate the integration of knowledge domains that is needed for this. In this Manifesto we describe two interdisciplinary challenges within the context of “Understanding and utilising various levels of cellular systems”, which we jointly want to tackle to realise breakthroughs.

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Chapter 6: Annexes / Building Blocks of Life

Interdisciplinary Challenge 1: Understanding cellular processes and identity

from molecule to organism

Motivation: The cell with all of its components forms the foundation of life. This programme is targeted at a fundamental understanding of the molecular structure, dynamics and interactions that lie at the basis of the biological functions of living cells, including their interaction with the

environment.

Background: With the help of advanced techniques for biology, biochemistry and biophysics, much knowledge has been gathered about the structure and function of a large number of cellular components, ranging from the molecular level (DNA, individual proteins) to complex processes (for example transcription, translation, signal transduction, photosynthesis) and the level of an individual cell. This has been realised thanks to a series of technological breakthroughs, such as the large-scale reading of DNA and RNA base sequences and linking this to intelligent analysis of ’Big data’, or providing a detailed picture and analysis of the dynamics of individual molecules. These

technological breakthroughs imply that conceptual questions that are vital for our general

understanding of the functioning of the cell can now be answered. Examples of such questions are: • How do the ever-present differences between individual molecules (for example, as a consequence of mutations, differences in folding, or post-translational modification) influence the behaviour of proteins or protein complexes and subsequently the behaviour of a network of biomolecules? (See Box 1 for a more detailed example)

• How do the dynamics of a biomolecular network influence the robustness of the system? What is the effect of external influences, for example as a consequence of changing environmental factors or biotic and abiotic stress?

• What are the genomic and epigenomic differences between individual cells (Figure 1) and how do these subsequently influence the cellular dynamics, development and interaction with the environment? How does the genome and epigenome remain stable over time despite harmful external influences?

• How does the complex secondary metabolic network of a plant respond to the mutation of one or more enzymes – how do changes in flux result in an adapted biochemical profile and how can we first obtain understanding of this and subsequently control it?

Box 1: Biological networks, their regulation and robustness. An example of an essential biological network is the ‘biological clock’, which ensures that our body always functions stably in a 24-hour cycle. Many aspects of our body are controlled as a result of this: metabolism, cell division,

alertness, ability to cope with stress, sensitivity to cancer, storage of experiences in the memory and numerous other processes. For example, the effect of radiotherapy and chemotherapy are influenced by the time of day at which the cancer therapies given. This network can be disrupted, for example during jet lag or when working shifts, but it can usually recover. The robustness of the biological clock decreases, however, with age. Although a lot of knowledge has been obtained about components of the molecular clock, an integral understanding of exactly how that clock works in every cell and what happens if the clock becomes deregulated by external influences is lacking. There are major scientific challenges in modelling this network so that the control of this and of other biological networks can be better understood.

Based on this background three tangible ‘hot topics’ can be identified, namely:

Hot Topic 1A. Understanding cellular networks.

This research has the aim of developing a better understanding of how molecules behave in complex biological networks (see Box 1), with a specific emphasis on the internal dynamics of networks. This is not only made possible by developments in molecular imaging, ribosomal profiling and mass spectrometry, for example, but also by the use of optobiology to cause disruptions in network processes and to subsequently measure their physiological responses. Modelling of the observed network dynamics forms a good test case, and progress in this will make it possible to make accurate predictions concerning the behaviour of cells under new conditions. It will be possible to

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gain an understanding of how cellular networks cause differences between cells and how they therefore influence the differentiated future of cells.

Hot Topic 1B. Quantitative description of individual cells. Cells for which the expected functions are identical

nevertheless exhibit different behaviour. Cellular heterogeneity at the molecular level can now be mapped quantitatively, for example with the help of large-scale imaging or applications of single-cell ‘omics’ such as DNA, RNA, protein and metabolite analyses. This has various applications that include the mapping of variants of microorganisms, characterisation of viral quasispecies, and

understanding the process of cellular differentiation, specialisation and response to external exposures (such as medicines and food). It is also becoming increasingly clear that the performance of plants is partly determined by the specific responses of individual cells to environmental factors such as pathogens. Further, with the help of metabolite imaging technologies (e.g. MSI – Mass

Spectrometry-based metabolite imaging), it is becoming increasingly clear how heterogeneous plant tissues are and how this invisible

heterogeneity is relevant for the interaction

between plants and their environment. It could also expose the epigenetic differences between cells

with a different background (cellular age, nutritional patterns). An overview of the differences between cells would subsequently contribute to our understanding of the collective behaviour of cell populations, for example in tissues and organs. By studying individual processes we can also gain important information about the mechanisms of ageing, cellular differentiation and cellular derailment (for example, at the start of the development of cancer, the initiation of fruit development in plants, and immune responses to pathogens in plants and animals).

Hot Topic 1C: Applications in biology and medicine.

New knowledge in the area of Hot Topics 1A and 1B will give rise to many spin-offs and applications in biology and medicine, also at the system level (see Box 2). For example, the 'mapping' of microorganisms is important for our continuous fight against infectious diseases, which includes the development of new types of antibiotics. Research into the differences between individual cells is directly applicable in cancer research, as each tumour contains different types of cells, each of which has its own response to radiation or chemotherapy. Knowledge about the influence of the

heterogeneity of cells is also important for our understanding of organ functions and physiology. Metastable variations in cellular parameters which can, for example, be caused by epigenetic or stochastic mechanisms, is vital for the persistence of bacterial populations under fluctuating selection pressure. That is not only important for the development of resistance mechanisms but also lies at the basis of cellular differentiation and can have large effects on the productivity of microorganisms in biotechnological applications.

The analysis of the differences between younger and older cells, as equally the understanding of how the network functions of a cell respond to changes in the environment, will also contribute to our understanding of the ageing process and how this could be delayed.

At a higher level (organism) networks also play an important role. For example, in tumour formation and immune mechanisms against pathogens various pathways and networks are involved which are also linked to each other internally and externally (crosstalk and feedback loops). A typical aspect at this level is that many diseases are complex, have several causes, often follow the same initial trajectory as other diseases, and subsequently fan out into very diverse types of conditions. Another characteristic at this level is that patients often have several different diseases at the same time and take several medicines that can unintentionally inhibit or enhance each other. Current therapies are

Figure 1. Response of a cellular network in individual cells. (left) Picture of a living mammalian cell that is expressing a DNA repair protein that has a green fluorescent protein component. Only the cell nucleus is visible because the protein is carrying a DNA repair and DNA is located in the nucleus. (right) The same cell now the DNA has been damaged by a laser at a predetermined location in the cell. Within a few dozen seconds the DNA repair protein accumulates at the location where the damage was done to initiate the process of DNA repair (picture Jurgen Marteijn, Hannes Lans and Wim Vermeulen, Erasmus MC).

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Chapter 6: Annexes / Building Blocks of Life

not effective enough because they frequently target just an individual link within a pathway and are developed for a broad group of patients who have different backgrounds and tumour characteristics. According to systems medicine the patient can therefore better be considered as a single system of continuously changing networks at the organism level.

The first applications at the organismal level are already in sight. Recently at various locations in the Netherlands clinical trials have been started based on insights that could only be obtained via systems medicine research. Models that deliver smart combinations of new and existing medicines are contributing to this.

Box 2: Systems biology and systems medicine. The essence of systems biology is determining how molecules, cells, organelles, organs and organisms collaborate during the course of biological processes. Systems biology research studies biological processes in relation to the entire biological system. In a similar manner, systems medicine examines a disease as a perturbation of an entire system that is made up of networks that function at different scales (for example genomic, proteomic and metabolic). Both developments are very closely connected with Hot Topics 1A, and 1B and utilise expertise from mathematics, chemistry, physics, computer science, biology, medical sciences and technical sciences.

Interdisciplinary Challenge 2: Engineering of molecules and cells

Motivation: This line of research is aimed at translating our understanding of molecular and cellular processes into the realisation of desired adjustments to biological functions.

Background: Our possibilities to be able to adapt biological material have made enormous advances in recent years. Modification is possible via DNA substitution, control of protein production, et cetera, but also the reconstitution of increasingly more complete protein complexes, lipid vesicles or parts of the cytoskeleton has already been demonstrated. And via direct synthesis it is possible to create 'new' biological material, for example the synthesis of DNA (e.g. for use as an alternative genome), the

construction of everyday structures from DNA (known under the umbrella term of DNA origami), or the gradual build-up of membranes with an arbitrary composition. A better control of reconstitution or synthesis techniques would subsequently make a range

of modifications and specific adaptations possible. Using this knowledge we would be able to tackle new challenges, such as:

• Is it possible to add network function to a cell to increase its functionality? • Is it possible to construct a working organelle?

• Is it possible to construct a minimally working cell, which is able for example to carry out simple gene regulation, which can achieve homeostasis with its environment, and which can subsequently divide (Figure 2)?

• Is it possible to use photosynthetic capacity more effectively; to convert light energy more effectively into biomass, nutrition (proteins, carbohydrates), energy carriers (fuels), bulk or fine chemicals?

The societal impact of such a ‘synthetic’ approach lies, for example, in the possibility to create cells that can produce certain raw materials or medicines in higher concentrations.

Figure 2. A sketch of what a minimal 'model cell' could look like, with in this a minimal

metabolism (visible via the green membrane proteins), minimal gene regulation on the DNA (blue) and cell division.

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Based on this background two tangible ‘hot topics’ can be identified, namely:

Hot Topic 2A. Development of synthetic and chemical biology.

Synthetic biology examines, for example, the minimum requirement to keep a cell functioning by removing 'useless' characteristics. This is important from a fundamental viewpoint (‘How does the cell work?’) as equally for many applications (see Hot Topic 2B). Synthetic biology is also searching for what is needed to realise a certain (new) functionality in a cell. An example of this is the targeted introduction of new information at the DNA or RNA level (possibly, for example, via the recently developed CRISPR technology) to incorporate new functionality and/or to modify existing networks. For this the understanding of network dynamics and the associated modelling from Hot Topic 1A is vital. The introduction of new functionality can also be associated with adaptation or remodelling of the cellular components. All of these developments are strongly linked to developments in chemical biology, which works bottom-up from the molecule. For example, nowadays it is possible to add chemical molecules to stem cells so that these differentiate in a specific manner.

The development of such ‘designer biology’ makes it possible to tackle new challenges. An example of this is the ability to produce (multi)cellular biological model systems, such as in the “Organ-on-a-Chip” and the integration of scent receptors on a chip like an artificial nose. These initiatives are currently being developed in the field of bio/nano research in collaboration with industry. This initiative offers good opportunities for replacing laboratory animals in the development of drugs. Other examples concern the assembly of various biochemical molecules into functioning ‘cellular’ modules such as metabolic channels, ‘artificial’ photosynthesis systems, and the creation of a minimal working cell. In view of the current developments this might even be possible within the next decade.

Hot Topic 2B. Applications of synthetic and chemical biology.

Many possible applications are arising from developments in synthetic biology (see, for example, http://synbio.mit.edu/research/grand-challenges). Part of the associated challenge in the fields of medicine, food technology, agriculture and horticulture will be enabling direct applications related to the entire organism. In medicine the development of new chemical and biological entities such as drugs, synthetic vaccines and antibody-drug combinations will make it possible to correct clinical syndromes more specifically and effectively. Toxic side effects of drugs can be reduced by means of an improved delivery to the target organs and/or cells. Subsequently it will also be possible to carry out targeted modification of genes to increase the potential scope of gene therapy, to produce medicines within cells and to create biological material that is not rejected by the body. The

development of synthetic biological material will also simplify and/or accelerate the understanding of clinical syndromes, with a decrease in the use of laboratory animals being the most important spin-off. In the area of food and agriculture the modification of production processes will make it easier to give food a healthier composition. In the area of industrial biotechnology biological processes will be adapted and deployed to produce bulk and fine chemicals as well as energy in an efficient and sustainable manner (as a replacement for the petrochemical industry). This will subsequently lead to important applications in (bio)chemistry, (artificial) photosynthesis and in tackling environmental pollution.

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Chapter 6: Annexes / Building Blocks of Life

6.2 Regulation governing contributions in kind from private, public and

semipublic parties

Definitions

Private sector parties

NWO defines a contribution as private when the contribution is not directly or indirectly paid by state funding, according to the EU state aid framework. International private sector parties can also participate. All committed financial and material contributions need to be stated and paid for in Euro.

Public and semipublic sector parties

Public and semipublic sector parties are institutions that are not research institutions recognised by NWO (i.e. institutions that are not permitted to submit applications to NWO, such as TNO and DLO) and are not classified as a private sector parties.

Rules

1.1 Possibility for Private, public and semipublic parties to participate with contributions in kind Private, public and semipublic parties usually participates in NWO research programmes by means of a financial contribution to the budget for the programme or project.

In the NWO projects it is possible for Private, public and semipublic parties to participate with contributions that are made fully or partially in kind, subject to the following conditions:

− The private and public sector partners in the project consortium are to make a joint contribution of 10% to the project costs in this call in addition to the NWO funding.

Contributions from semipublic and public partners do not count towards the 10% minimum contribution. Contributions from private and public sector parties may be in cash and in kind. The total cash contribution should be at least 5% of the project budget. Additional in cash or in kind contributions are possible, as a result of which the private contribution becomes greater than 10%. Private partner(s) from the SME sector can contribute fully in kind. However, if the project consortium consists of several private partners and not all of them are from the SME sector then the criterion, that at least 5% of project costs must consist of a private cash contribution, still applies. Cash contributions are to be paid to NWO.

− Contributions in kind must be: • essential for the project;

• included in the budget for research costs approved by NWO as part of the project proposal in which private, public and/or semipublic parties are participating; • fall under one of the cost categories referred to in clause 3.

1.2 Commitment

If an external partner is to participate in the research project with a contribution to be made fully or partially in kind, as described above, the private sector party (and, where applicable, the public sector party) is to commit said contribution in kind, plus any financial contribution (cash or otherwise), to the NWO project.

1.3 Contributions to be made in kind

In a research project, private sector parties (and, where applicable, public sector parties) may make contributions in kind in the form of the following costs, as incurred by the external private or public sector party, if they are directly attributable to the research project (see also clause 1):

− Wage costs, on the understanding that the starting point is to be an hourly wage, calculated on the basis of the annual wage for a full time contract as stated on the payslip in the column headed wages for wage tax purposes, plus mark-ups for social insurance charges payable by law or on the basis of individual or collective employment contracts, and based on the assumption of 1650 productive hours per year. This wage may be increased by a mark-up for other general costs, subject to a maximum of 50% of the aforementioned wage costs. The resulting hourly rate to be attributed to the project, including the aforementioned 50% mark-up for general costs, may not

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exceed € 100. Project management, supervision, coordination and consulting services do not count towards the matching contribution,

− Costs of consumables, resources and software (including licences) that are directly related to the project, based on the original purchase prices.

− Use of equipment and machinery:

• Costs of purchasing and using machinery and equipment, on the understanding that this is to be based on the depreciation charges to be allocated to the project, calculated on the basis of the original purchase prices and a depreciation period of at least five years; costs of consumables and maintenance during the period of use.

• Costs of purchasing and using machinery and equipment not purchased exclusively for the project are only considered contributions to the project, based on the proportion of their use attributable to the project, if there is a completed time sheet available for each piece of machinery or equipment.

• Contributions in kind in the form of offering software availability.

1.4 Accounting for contributions in kind

Private and public sector parties must account for their contributions in kind by presenting NWO with a statement of the contributed costs no later than three months after the end of the research project to which the contribution in kind relates. The request for the determination of the value of a

contribution in kind must be submitted at the same time as the application for the determination of the grant amount by the university partner or partners, and be accompanied by a joint final report. If the contribution in kind to be accounted for is more than € 125,000, an auditor's report must be supplied. In other cases a written statement to the effect that the efforts contributed in kind are actually attributable to the project shall suffice.

If the private or public sector party that has committed itself to a research project with a contribution in kind ultimately fails to make, or is unable to account for, all or part of this

contribution in kind, NWO shall invoice this party for that part of the contribution in kind which has not yet been made in order that the total contribution commitment is fulfilled.

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Chapter 6: Annexes / Building Blocks of Life

6.3 NWO- Framework for Public – Private Partnership

Version 25 January 2012

This Framework distinguishes between

• a consortium (i.e. all the parties collaborating in a programme)

• the legal entity (i.e. the legal form that is selected for the partnership), and

• the initial ownership of the intellectual property (IP) rights, which may rest with various configurations of parties participating in the consortium (see 3).

The Framework does not cover consortiums that operate with European grants or subsidies owing to the specific conditions that can be imposed by the EU. The Framework is, however, fully in line with European rules governing state support.

2.1 Structure of the Consortium Agreement

A consortium agreement includes the following elements as a minimum: • A list of the consortium partners and their legal representatives.

• Preamble providing information about the project and the reasons for entering into a consortium agreement. The aims that the signatories to the agreements want to achieve by working together should also be stated here.

1. An article providing definitions of the terms used.

2. An article referring to an appendix containing details of the project plan, the project organisation and other information about the project

3. An article covering the governance of the consortium. 4. An article covering the finances of the consortium. 5. An article on the release of publications.

6. An article covering how to deal with confidential data and information.

7. An article covering how to deal with intellectual property, to be broken down into background knowledge, research results (foreground knowledge) and the granting of licences, plus an annex setting out the rights, duties and associated deadlines applying to parties in relation to patent applications and patent commercialisation.

8. An article on the exclusion of liability. 9. An article on resolving breaches of contract.

10. An article on amendments to the consortium agreement, including the appendix concerning the project.

11. An article on settling disputes.

12. An article setting out when the consortium agreement is to enter into force and how long it is to remain in effect.

13. An article on dealing with early termination.

Note Re article 3

This article must at least include provisions that cover the following: • the obligations of the consortium partners

• the exchange of information and the reporting requirements (both internal and external) • the exchange of information and the reporting requirements (both internal and external)

Regarding article 4

One option for this article is to include arrangements on the subcontracting of work to third parties.

Regarding article 11

State that the agreement is governed by Dutch law. Agreement needs to be reached on which court shall be competent to handle any disputes. One option for this article is to include the possibility of mediation.

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Re article 12

One option for this article is to include a provision stating which articles are to remain in effect after the agreement expires, and for how long.

2.2 Details relating to governance

The governance of a PPP depends on the PPP’s size and complexity. The simplest form is a university project that receives funding from one public sector provider of grants and is cofinanced by one or more private sector parties. In such cases, the governance is determined by the terms and

conditions of the public sector provider of grants so long as it and the university (or universities, as appropriate) provide the majority of the funding for the project. For other funding ratios special arrangements need to be made.

In the case of a partnership programme consisting of more than one research project, or a PPP covering several programmes, themes, flagships or similar, several layers of governance may be necessary. The top layer is referred to by terms such as General Assembly, Supervisory Board, Steering Group, Executive Board and the like. At a programme level, terms such as Programme Committee and Flagship Captains are used. The next level down relates to the projects. The duties of the various governance elements are to be laid down in the Consortium Agreement.

2.3 NWO Policy on Intellectual Property

NWO’s policy on intellectual property rights (IPRs) and the results of public-private partnerships (PPPs) encompasses two different IP models. These provide the framework for all agreements concerning intellectual property rights relating to the results of PPP research projects funded by NWO. The main difference between the two IP models is that NWO does not claim joint ownership in the case of model 1, but does so in the case of model 2. In both IP models, there is a linkage between IPRs and the percentage of private-sector funding. This always concerns the situation in which under Dutch law ownership of the results is bestowed on the research organisation that generated them (in its capacity as employer of the individual researcher who has made the invention)

Each NWO Call for Proposals indicates which IP model is to apply in the case of PPPs. The parties concerned draw up their consortium agreements in accordance with that model. A consortium agreement signed by the parties concerned must be produced within 6 months of the award of a grant.

IP model 1

Where IP model 1 is designated, the Call for Proposals also indicates whether option 1 or option 2 is to apply:

In option 1, the basic rule is that all the parties have a claim to IPRs on the results of the research. In the consortium agreement, the project partners assign the IPRs in a way that appropriately reflects their respective tasks, contributions and interests. This IPR assignment is expected to reduce the need for legal action to transfer IPR ownership later in the life of the project.

In option 2, the basic rule is that the IP rights accrue to the employer of the individual researcher who has made the invention. If the parties agree at a later stage that the IPRs accruing to the research organisation under this rule should be transferred in whole or in part to a private-sector party, a market-compliant payment must in principle be made for them, with the contribution made to the project by the private-sector partner being deducted from this. An IPR transfer of this kind is regarded as a legal and commercial transaction on which Dutch VAT must be paid and passed on to the tax authorities.

Option 1: appropriate reflection

Assignment of IPRs

The starting point for negotiation is that all the parties have a claim to IPRs in relation to the results of the research. The project partners negotiate which of them can claim which rights and record this in the consortium agreement. Arrangements should at any rate be agreed as to which project partner has the right to file for patent, if it wishes to do so, on any invention resulting from the research (the right of first refusal).

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Chapter 6: Annexes / Building Blocks of Life

When drawing up these agreements, rights can be differentiated in accordance with tasks. To comply with the rules on state support, it is important that the consortium agreement should show that the assignment of IPRs to project partners appropriately reflects their respective tasks, contributions and interests. The process of assigning IPRs can also include the negotiation of agreements on market-compliant payments.

The assignment of IPRs to the various project partners must take account of the percentage categories established by NWO. The principle underlying these categories is that private-sector parties should be allocated rights in proportion to the size of the contributions they make. For example, if it is agreed that a private-sector party should have a right of first refusal even though it is making a very limited contribution, it is reasonable to establish that, if it takes up this right, it will make a market-compliant payment, minus the contribution it has made to the project. The NWO percentage categories are as follows:2

1. For a private-sector contribution of 10% or less, businesses are to be assigned no rights to the results obtained by the party carrying out the research. They may, however, make internal, non-commercial use of results obtained in the course of the research project;

2. For a private-sector contribution of between 11% and 30%, businesses may be given an option on an exclusive right to make commercial use of the results obtained by the party carrying out the research, whether or not they have been patented. If this option is taken up by a business, it must make a market-compliant payment for the commercial use right, minus the contribution it has made to the project;

3. For a private-sector contribution of between 31% and 50%, businesses may be given – in addition to the option mentioned in category 2 – a non-exclusive, royalty-free commercial use right.

Calculation of private-sector contribution percentages

The calculation of the percentages is based on the marginal costs (the NWO contribution + cash/in-kind private-sector contribution(s)). NWO policy also permits private-sector contributions to be totalised, so that – for example – an SME that has made a relatively small contribution can still qualify for inclusion in category 2 or 3. It is important to note, however, that in category 2 the enterprise must make a market-compliant payment for any licence it wants, minus the (in this case, small) contribution it has made to the project.

Transfer of ownership

If a private-sector project partner wants to file a patent on an invention to which another partner owns the IPRs under the consortium agreement, it can attempt to negotiate an IPR transfer. If such a transfer takes place, a market-compliant payment must be made, minus the contribution made by the business concerned. An IPR transfer of this kind is regarded as a legal and commercial

transaction on which Dutch VAT must be paid and passed on to the tax authorities.

The market-compliant payment can be calculated in various ways: using a market-based approach (comparison with similar IP transactions), an income-based approach (consideration of expected future income), or a cost-based approach (based on the cost of generating the research result), or a valuation by an independent expert. The process of negotiating and fixing the amount of the

market-compliant payment should be recorded by the consortium secretariat. The deduction from the market-compliant payment should be absolute rather than relative.

In other words, the entire amount of the business’s contribution should be deducted from the market-compliant payment. The private contribution should therefore be deducted in its entirety from the market-compliant price.

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Access to research results

In the consortium agreement parties can include clauses on the protection of research results, confidentiality and publications, with due regard to Section 4.5 of the General Terms and Conditions of NWO Grants (Algemene subsidiebepalingen NWO). Research results that do not qualify for IP protection and are not covered by a confidentiality clause may be used by all the parties as they see fit.

Copyright and databases

Copyright arrangements are governed by NWO’s Open Access policy on publications. As regards databases generated within projects, the rule is that NWO and the research organisation concerned are regarded as joint ‘data producers’ in terms of the Dutch Databases (Legal Protection) Act (Databankenwet) and, as such, have the right to decide on any further use of the database concerned.

Option 2: parties’ right to their own results

Assignment of IPRs

In option 2, IPRs relating to the results of the research accrue to the party that carried out the research generating those results. Here too, the NWO percentage categories apply. The NWO percentage categories are as follows:

1. For a private-sector contribution of 10% or less, businesses are to be assigned no rights to the results obtained by the party carrying out the research. They may, however, make internal, non-commercial use of results generated in the course of the research project; 2. For a private-sector contribution of between 11% and 30%, businesses may be given an

option on an exclusive right to make commercial use of the results obtained by the party carrying out the research, whether or not they have been patented. If the company decides to make use of this option might then a market-compliant price should be paid minus the private contribution;

3. For a private-sector contribution of between 31% and 50%, businesses may be given – in addition to the option mentioned in category 2 – a non-exclusive, royalty-free commercial use right.

Calculation of private-sector contribution percentages

The calculation of the percentages is based on the marginal costs (the NWO contribution + in cash/in-kind private-sector contributions). NWO policy also permits private-sector contributions to be totalised, so that – for example – an SME that has made a relatively small contribution can still qualify for inclusion in category 2 or 3. It is important to note, however, that in category 2 the enterprise must make a market-compliant payment for any licence it wants, minus the (in this case, small) contribution it has made to the project.

Transfer of ownership

If a company wants to claim the IP rights on the results of the party carrying out the research within the consortium, by means of applying for a patent, then the company should make a market

compliant payment. The private contribution of the party concerned will be deducted from this payment. An IPR transfer of this kind is regarded as a legal and commercial transaction on which Dutch VAT must be paid and passed on to the tax authorities.

The market-compliant payment can be calculated in various ways: using a market-based approach (comparison with similar IP transactions), an income-based approach (consideration of expected future income), a cost-based approach (based on the cost of generating the research result), or a valuation by an independent expert. The process of negotiating and fixing the amount of the market-compliant payment should be recorded by the consortium secretariat. The deduction from the market-compliant payment should be absolute rather than relative.

Figure

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References

  1. e NWO website.