How & Who at Utrecht University: Funding & RSOs

Funding for transdisciplinary research is becoming increasingly available as funders add recommendations and requirements to engage stakeholders and to deliver societal impact results. There are also opportunities for testing ideas through seed funding grants within research hubs and departments and through awards.


Research Support Officers

Research Support Officers (RSOs) are available to support your search for funding that aligns with your research idea and needs. They will support you in the application process to produce competitive grants that maximize your chance of success.

RSOs are the first point of contact for valorisation or impact activities for researchers. RSOs can also bring researchers in contact with appropriate partners (e.g. Utrecht Holdings) for knowledge protection (e.g. patents) and business development.

More detailed information on the RSO's services can be found on the Utrecht University intranet and contact with the RSOs is possible via email at


Valorisation: Related Concept

Valorisation includes any process of creating value from knowledge that makes that knowledge suitable for societal use. This includes many different forms including science communication and indirect contact with ‘end-users’.

Transdisciplinary research is part of valorisation but it is specifically a form of research that directly engages external stakeholders.


Societal impact: Related Concept

Societal impact is the end goal of transdisciplinary research to contribute to the development of society and to challenges facing society. Consider this definition from John Robinson “Transdisciplinarity is co-creation of collaborative work for societal impact.”  Take a look at the Societal Impact Report.

  • Creating and applying knowledge together with stakeholders can lead to and collaborating to find innovative solutions with more robust and socially desirable outcomes.

Open science and transdisciplinary research

Transdisciplinary research is part of a change in knowledge landscape that embraces the integration of knowledge, expertise and know-how across disciplines and with societal actors [see What is Transdisciplinary Research]. Open access to knoweldge and data supports this collaborative approach to knowledge production including by making knowledge production more accessible, transparent, efficient and reusable. The commitment of Utrecht University to lead on open science includes open access, fair data and software access, and public engagement, and includes new funding instruments and infrastructure to support this access and exchange.

New research and funding opportunities

There are also increasing opportunities for pursuing high-quality research through engaging with those outside of academia who hold key knowledge about societal challenges. 

  • Addressing society’s problems and needs through research benefits from insights from external stakeholders holding valuable knowledge and implementation capacities.
  • Learning from stakeholders about their understanding and knowledge of an issue can enrich research and lead it into unexplored territories
  • Increasingly funding agencies are requesting that research projects engage social actors as partners in research proposals. [See the Horizon 2020 call for proposals]
  • The Standard Evaluation Protocol for evaluating research also emphasizes societal impact [Read the Societal Impact Report]

Horizon 2020

The EU Horizon 2020 Funding Programme directly references stakeholder engagement – for example:

“Focus areas were selected using criteria including:

-degree of fit with politically derived drivers;

-European added value, with convincing description of expected impact;

-potential for engagement of the stakeholder community;

-integration across the work programme;

-achieving integration of cross-cutting objectives, including coverage of the innovation chain


Project proposers should consider and actively seek synergies with, and where appropriate possibilities for further funding. Examples of synergies are actions that build the research and innovation capacities of actors. The interlinkages between research, innovation and education are a prime example of a synergy with that holds great potential for enhancing the impact for each of these activities. Not only can education and training provide an effective channel for dissemination of new knowledge directly into work places; it is also a powerful method to support research and innovation activities that are informed by and directed towards citizens’, business’ and society’s needs.”

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