Netspar (Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement) supports innovative academic research on all aspects of pensions, aging and retirement in social sciences and related fields such as applications of data science. As part of these efforts, Netspar invites applications for Theme grants for research projects with a duration of three years, for a maximum of € 250k per project. This year, Netspar has €750k to allocate. Furthermore, there is an additional possibility for funding by Instituut Gak by means of an extra Theme Grant (2). This could raise the total amount available for Netspar Theme Grants in 2022 to € 1 million.


Research proposals from all relevant disciplines that can contribute to the Netspar research agenda are invited. Netspar encompasses a large variety of academic disciplines ranging from economics to law, sociology, psychology, communication, epidemiology and data science. All submitted proposals should be relevant for the Netspar Research Agenda 2019-2023 and the Netspar Action Plan 2019-2023. Current topics on the research 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 by individuals
  • Communication about pensions
  • Digitalisation: 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
  • Measurement of preferences for risk and sustainable investments
  • Life-cycle planning: e.g., investment policy, risk measurement and management & sustainability
  • 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

(1) co-funded by Click NL: Top Consortium of the Creative Industry 

(2) to be eligible for the extra funding opportunity by Instituut Gak please tick the box for your consent on the application form

Main Characteristics

  • Funding for three years with a maximum of € 250k.
  • The project team consists of several academics plus representatives from one or more industry partners.
  • The project leader is encouraged to organize a theme conference to present their research to the Netspar partners.
  • Project team members are available over the course of the project to present research results at Netspar events (or in other forms, such as podcasts and short videos) and are expected to participate in task forces meetings (“werkgroepdagen”) when writing industry-oriented Netspar publications.
  • 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.

Match Making Event

On March 17, 2022, Netspar 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. During this event, Netspar will also provide information on the grant application process as well as the extra funding possibilities by Instituut Gak and Click NL.

Selection Criteria

  • Proposals must be related to the Netspar Research Agenda 2019-2023. 
  • 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 Dutch university or knowledge institute.
  • At least 10% of the budget provided by Netspar (in €) 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 project and is strongly encouraged.
  • Active participation in the Netspar Match Making event (March 17, 2022) is highly recommended when submitting a proposal.

Application Requirements

Proposals for a Theme Grant must contain the following documents:

Only applications in accordance with the Netspar format will be accepted for the selection procedure.

 Selection Process

There is one selection round each year.

  • Applications will be evaluated for academic quality by the Netspar Scientific Council. In some cases additional reviewers will be apporached by the chair of Scientific Council. At least three members of the Scientific Council will judge and grade the academic quality of the proposals. 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.

Timetable for 2022

March 17 Match Making Event
April 20 Deadline for draft version of application (Completed Application Form and Annexes I, II, III).
April 20 – May 20 Feedback meeting with the Scientific Director of Netspar or program coordinator(s)
June 24 Deadline for submitting final application (including all documents; Completed Application form and Annexes I, II, III, IV, V).
July 1 – August 5 Evaluation by Netspar Scientific Council
August 19 Deadline for applicant responses to comments made by Netspar Scientific Council
September 15 Recommendation by Netspar Partner Research Council
September 30 Formal decision by Netspar Board
October Administrative kick-off meeting
January 2023 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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