Netspar (Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement) supports innovative academic research on all aspects of pensions, aging and retirement. Netspar encompasses a large variety of academic disciplines ranging from economics to law, sociology, psychology, communication, epidemiology and applied data science. We invite applications for Theme Grants for research projects with a duration of three years, for a maximum of €350k per project. This year, Netspar, together with co-funding partners Instituut Gak and CLICKNL, intend to fund four Theme Grants (for a total amount of €1.4 million).


We invite research proposals from all relevant disciplines that can contribute to the Netspar Knowledge Agenda 2023-2027. Relevant topics in the Knowledge Agenda include but are not limited to:

  • Pension reform and optimal pension system design.
  • Transition of the pensions sector to the new Dutch pensions system.
  • Choice architecture and activation in pension decisions and financial planning by individuals.
  • Communication about pensions.
  • Digitalization: e.g., data science developments, automated financial advice, legal and privacy issues.
  • Vulnerable groups: e.g., freelancers, migrants, women, financially illiterate people, people incapacitated for work.
  • Pension investments: life-cycle planning, risk measurement & management (e.g., interest rate, inflation, and climate risk), sustainable investments.
  • Measurement of risk and sustainability preferences.
  • Labor market developments: e.g., flexible contracts, working longer, vitality, productivity.
  • Relation of pension decisions to housing and healthcare.
  • Trust in the pensions system.
  • Supervision and regulation.
  • Governance of pension institutions.

Main Characteristics of the grant

  • Funding for three years with a maximum of €350k.
  • The project team consists of several academics, plus representatives from one or more industry partners.
  • The goal of the project is to contribute to the academic literature as well as to knowledge exchange with the pension and insurance sector.
  • The project leader is responsible for the project in terms of content and finances. The project leader also serves as the first point of contact for project monitoring.
  • The project team members are expected to be available for knowledge exchange activities over the course of the project; these include presenting research results at Netspar events or at events organized by Netspar partners, to present industry-oriented Netspar publications resulting from the project during short after-lunch webinars, and to contribute to short summaries of such paper (one-pagers), podcasts and/or short videos.

Match Making Event

On March 9, 2023, Netspar will organize a Match Making Event to connect researchers interested in submitting a Theme Grant application to representatives from industry partners from the Dutch pensions and insurance sector who may be interested in joining the project. At this event, Netspar will also provide detailed information on the grant application process.

Application Requirements

Proposals for a Theme Grant must contain the following documents:

Co-funding by Instituut Gak and by CLICKNL

This call is co-funded by Instituut Gak and by CLICKNL. The mission of Instituut Gak is to contribute to the quality of social security and the labor market in the Netherlands by funding, among other things, societal projects and research projects. To be eligible for the extra funding opportunity by Instituut Gak, please tick the box on the application form for your consent.

CLICKNL is the knowledge and innovation network of the creative industry in The Netherlands and aims to enhance the creative professional’s knowledge base in order to strengthen the sector and the innovative capacity of the Netherlands. Proposals that are selected for co-funding by CLICKNL an additional €25k is available for development of a ‘design component’ (e.g., tool, app, serious game) that links the proposal to the CLICKNL knowledge and innovation agenda. The procedure will be clarified by CLICKNL during the Match Making Event 2023.

Selection Process

There is one selection round each year.

  • Applications will be evaluated on academic quality by the Netspar Scientific Council. At least three members of the Scientific Council or additional reviewers will evaluate the academic quality of the proposals. In some cases, additional reviewers will be approached by the chair of Scientific Council if specific expertise is needed. Proposals must receive an average of 3.5 points (out of 5) in order to proceed to the next evaluation round.
  • Applications with sufficient academic quality will be submitted to the Netspar Partner Research Council (consisting of practitioners representing the Netspar partners from the pensions and insurance sector, employer and labor associations, and Dutch ministries and regulatory agencies) which will make recommendations to the Netspar Board of Directors.
  • Grants are awarded by the Netspar Board of Directors.

Selection criteria

  • Proposals must be related to the Netspar Knowledge Agenda 2023-2027.
  • The application must be submitted by a Dutch university or knowledge institute, which will be responsible for the administration if the grant is awarded. The proposed project leader must be employed by this university or knowledge institute.
  • At least €25k of the budget provided by Netspar must be supplied to one or more academic researchers affiliated with a foreign university.
  • In-kind matching by universities or knowledge institutes strengthens the research projects and is strongly encouraged.
  • Active participation in the Match Making Event is highly recommended when submitting a proposal.

Timetable for 2023

March 9 Match Making Event
April 21 Deadline for draft version of application (Completed Application Form and Annexes I, II, III and IV).
April 21 – May 19 Feedback meeting with the Scientific Director of Netspar or program coordinator(s)
June 23 Deadline for submitting final application (including all documents; Completed Application form and Annexes I, II, III, IV and V).
July 1 – August 4 Evaluation by Netspar Scientific Council
August 18 Deadline for applicant responses to comments made by Netspar Scientific Council
September Recommendation by Netspar Partner Research Council
October Formal decision by Netspar Board
November Administrative kick-off meeting
January 2024 Start of project



Please submit your application to and mention ‘Application for Netspar Theme Project’ in the subject line.



For questions, please contact Netspar: Silvie van Halder, Policy Officer +31(0)134663793,

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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