Synergy '22

Synergy Awards '22: calling PhD students!

Synergy '21 was both super exciting and nerve-racking. It’s a great chance to take your research to the real world. Taking part in the competition has surely boosted my passion to bridge science and practice. After all, without Synergy ’21, our coaching podcast PhD Unplugged wouldn’t be reality.
- Lara Solms, Synergy '21 Award winner

Calling all social sciences and humanities PhD students who want to make a positive impact on society: submit your idea and enter the Synergy Awards ’22!

About the award

The Synergy award aims to give PhD students the possibility to explore and present the potential impact of their research on society. A committee will review the submissions and will select four candidates. These four candidates will be invited to pitch their compelling impact ideas at Synergy ’22. During Synergy ’22 the audience and a jury will cast their votes to select the most exciting and innovative idea for societal impact. The winner will be awarded a prize of €2,500 to kick-start the development of their idea. After Synergy ’22, NWO aims to connect the winner with academic and non-academic professionals who are interested in exploring the practical dimensions of the winner’s research. Progress made by the winning idea will be presented at the Synergy Awards ’23.

Enter the Awards if you…
are a PhD candidate conducting research in the social sciences or the humanities (including those who have obtained their PhD within six months of the deadline). We warmly invite you to submit your idea for societal impact stemming from your PhD research. The submission deadline is 5 November 2021, 14:00 CET.

Bootcamp: enhance your skills
Prior to the event, the four selected candidates will work on their presentation skills in the Synergy Awards Bootcamp to perfect their pitch and develop their valorisation skills. All candidates will take part in one or two workshops in the first half of January 2022. This will help you to refine your pitch for the Synergy Awards, and give you valuable experience and feedback that will be useful throughout your academic career!

Winner meet-up
After Synergy ’22, NWO will organise a meet-up in which the PhD student can talk about their research with other interested academics and non-academic professionals. The goal of this meeting is to exchange information, help develop your network and look at the practical and scientific impact of your research.

Your submission
The core idea for impact on society should stem from your PhD research, but does not necessarily have to be a finished project. You can submit your impact idea in different formats for example as an online tool or app, podcast, a public performance or debate, an article or brochure or an improved process. Submissions from any field in the humanities or social sciences are welcome, from medieval history to psychology. The key factor in your application should be the impact it has on society.

Your submission should contain the following elements:

  • A concise narrative résumé of your achievements and goals with regard to your scientific work (maximum of 500 words).
  • A short video lasting no more than two minutes in which you present your idea. Please note that we do not expect flawlessly edited videos or perfect presentations. A short, phone-recorded clip in which you pitch your idea with clarity and enthusiasm is exactly what we’re looking for. The videos (MP4, MOV, WMV or AVI) submitted by the four selected candidates will be used during the Synergy Bootcamp as input for your pitch training.
  • A brief clarification of your idea, in which you give further details on what you are trying to achieve with your idea and how you plan on achieving it (maximum of 500 words).

The applications will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria: 

  • Impact on society
  • Candidate’s presentation
  • Topicality of the theme
  • Clarity of the proposal
  • Feasibility of the proposal

How to apply
Please submit your application by 5 November 2021, 14:00 CET using the button below. For equal assessment, we will only accept individual submissions. The outcome will be announced on 9 December 2021 at the latest.

Questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Submit your idea

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