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Private non-profit research funding

data publication
20 October 2021
research Funding science
Besides business enterprises and the government, the private non-profit (PNP) sector also funds research. This publication shows the size and trends in research expenditure by the PNP sector. Health funds are a dominant funding source in this sector, as they account for almost half of all PNP-funded research.

In short

  • PNP funds finance about 2,5% of scientific research in the Netherlands.
  • That amounts to about 370 million euros per year.
  • Health funds pay almost half of the total expenditure on research by the PNP sector.

R&D spending and the PNP sector

R&D in the Netherlands is financed by companies, the government and the PNP sector. Over the past ten years, PNP funds have financed an average of €370 million a year in research. This represents abou 2,5% of the total expenditure on scientific research in the Netherlands.

Differences per sector of performance

In the higher education sector, funding from the PNP sector (6.7%) plays a more important role than in research institutions (1.1%) and companies (0.8%) (figures from the year 2019).

facts and figures

7% of R&D in higher education is financed by the PNP sector

1% at research institutes

0.8% at companies

Health funds largest financier

The largest contribution for scientific research in the PNP sector comes from the health funds.

Overall picture
Over the period 2009-2019, we see an increase in the research expenditure of the health funds, with a number of fluctuations. These fluctuations are primarily caused by the changes in research expenditure of the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) and will be explained below. In the other funds, small fluctuations can be seen in their expenditure on research.

In 2020, the health funds spend significantly less on research: 123 million euros. Here as well, KWF explains most of the decrease in research expenditure. Where between the years of 2009-2019 they spend on average 68% of their total expenses on research, this is only 53% in 2020. This is a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic, which has caused a decreased absorption capacity in the research field - as a consequence of which less research could be performed. The research expenditure of the other health funds decreased from 81 million euros in 2019 to 70 million euros in 2020 - a decrease of 13%. The total expenditure of this group (Excluding KWF), decreased by 20%. 

Research expenditures of health funds are diverse
Most health funds spend between 1/3 and half of their available means on research.In 2020, the Dutch Cystic Fibrosis foundation spent the highest share of available means on research: 58%. KWF (53%), the ALS foundation (precise percentage unclear) and the MS research foundation (55%) also spend a relatively large part on research. However, they are smaller than KWF.

There are also a few health funds for whom research is less central and who spend less than 10% of their funds on research.

KWF explains most of the fluctuations in research expenditure of health funds
As a large research funder, KWF has a lot of influence on the trend presented in the second graph. In 2014, 21.3 million euros was spent on research projects from the Alpe d'HuZes/KWF fund, which was initially budgeted for 2013. This largely explains the rise in research expenditure in 2014 as well as the drop in 2015. 

The fluctuations between 2017 and 2020 are also largely explained by KWF. In 2019, health funds' research expenditure rises with 66,7 million euros (36%). This is caused by a multi-annual contract between KWF and the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), which is fully accounted for in 2019.