Spinoza Prize to become a team effort

Starting this year, teams of scientists will also be eligible for the annual Spinoza Prize, the Netherlands’ most prestigious scientific award.

Ronald Hanson (QuTech) received the Spinoza Prize in 2019. (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

Research financier NWO annually awards three or four Spinoza Prizes worth approximately 2.5 million euros each to scientists to further their research.

During this week’s award ceremony, Minister Van Engelshoven announced that, from now on, teams of researchers will also be eligible for the prize. “I’m absolutely convinced that our country’s research efforts benefit more from cooperation than competition”, she said in her speech. “Two minds know more than one. But the current Spinoza Price rules do not reward teamwork.”

Added value
But rules can be changed. Soon, according to the NWO website, small teams of no more than two or three scientists will be eligible as well. They must be able to show that their teamwork has added value. In other words, the team’s achievements must be greater than the sum of their individual efforts.

The prize is always awarded to world-class scientists who inspire young researchers and whose insights have an impact beyond our country’s borders, for example through real-world applications of these insights or because their published expertise has become mainstream knowledge.

Teams of scientists were already eligible for the Stevin Prizes (intended especially for valorisation) awarded concurrently with the Spinoza Prize. These Stevin Prizes are the application-oriented counterparts of the Spinoza Prizes and were awarded this year for the second time, but so far there were no teams among the winners.

The candidates for these awards must be nominated, for instance by their university’s Rector Magnificus, the president of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, KNAW, or the president of the Dutch Network of Women Professors (LVNH).

HOP, Bas Belleman
Translation: Taalcentrum-VU

HOP Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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