Top research schools are the ‘Premier League’ of academic research in the Netherlands. This is why they receive additional grants from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences via the NWO Gravitation programme.
The Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials (ZIAM) is entirely Groningen-based. In addition, the University of Groningen also participates in the other top research school, the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA, with Leiden University as the responsible body), as well as in the Research Centre for Functional Molecular Systems (under the auspices of Radboud University Nijmegen), one of the six new Gravitation consortia that were selected in 2012.
The Gravitation programme can be regarded as the successor to the ‘Dieptestrategie’ programme introduced in 1997, which funded a total of six top research schools. Their budgets were extended several times based on their highly positive evaluations, until it was decided after the last evaluation in 2010 to only continue with the two top research schools that were assessed as ‘exemplary’, namely NOVA and ZIAM.