As of 2012 it is mandatory to include a 750 word paragraph on “knowledge utilisation” in all VENI grant applications. In this paragraph I should indicate what the “relevance” of the results of my research will be for “solving economic, societal, cultural, policy-related or technical challenges”. In other words, I have to indicate how my research will meet the need of “third parties” within and outside of academia. Moreover, besides researcher quality and proposal quality, this paragraph will contribute no less than 20% to the assessment of my application.
Yesterday I attended an information session which also briefly discussed this new requirement. NWO is about to publish detailed guidelines for each discipline. If a researcher is convinced that it does not apply in any way, i.e. there is no possibility for the research to have practical applications, then he can try to make his case and will obtain a positive evaluation, if he manages to convince the committee. However, NWO defines “relevance” in such a broad way, that it becomes well nigh impossible to deny any and all possibilities for utilisation (at least, according to their previous guidelines).
Regarding my own research, it will be relevant in the first place to scholars and students, mostly in the domains of philosophy and history and philosophy of science. In the narrow sense of “knowledge utilisation”, I see no way to exploit my research commercially, but given the very broad definition, I will try to formulate a constructive case for this possibility.
Since my research involves the historical origin and development of philosophical ideas and movements, it can be said to have cultural relevance. Moreover, since my research indirectly contributes to our understanding of the concepts “philosophy” and “science”, it it can be said to have democratic relevance. Indeed, my research contemplates the origins of the debate concerning the relation of philosophy and the natural sciences as academic disciplines and their role in society at large, which is relevant as background knowledge for public policy concerning the organization of scientific institutions as well as the public perception of such activities.
Potential activities that could lead to an increased public dissemination and perhaps increased applicability, in so far as possible, include the publication of popularized articles in non-academic journals and a continued and more extensive use of social media, my website and this blog to inform the public about my research activities and results.