Lousy VICI round for the RUG

It was a poor VICI round this year for the RUG: only one of the 32 prestigious VICI grants went Groningen.

Only Bernard Nijstad from the Faculty of Economics and Business will receive the prestigious grant, worth 1.5 million euros, from research financer NWO. With the grant, he will conduct research for the next five years into creativity on the work floor. Nijstad wants to know whether an employer should give his or her creative employees freedom or whether they actually become more creative if they are put under pressure.

In total, 122 applications were submitted and fifteen per cent of them were awarded grants. Seventeen per cent of female applicants and fourteen per cent of male applicants were awarded a grant.

Less than ideal

Receiving only one VICI grant is one of the worst scores in years for the RUG. The dean of talent development is not surprised, however. ‘Of course it’s not ideal’, he concedes, ‘but last year, we had six researchers who received grants and at that point, Groningen was over-represented.’ In recent years, three or four grants were awarded to Groningen per year on average. In relation to the other universities, the RUG should receive three grants per year.

The interview round seemed promising for the RUG. Eight applicants were included among the final 60, says Jansen. ‘However, this included a few first time applicants, and the probability of receiving a grant is greater if you have previously applied because you have the time to reflect on and improve your focus in the intervening year. I was also rejected for my first VICI, but the following year, I was number one in my field.’


The RUG did well when it came to other significant grants this year. Three ERC Consolidator Grants worth just under two million euros a piece were recently awarded to depression researcher Marieke Wichers, molecular oncologist Marcel van Vugt and astronomer Karina Caputi.