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The basic strategy of the The NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (AES, previously Technology Foundation STW) is to call for proposals from the field. These always concern innovative research with a potential for utilisation, in the form of independent projects and programmes (related projects around one subject). The chance of utilisation is increased by the compulsory utilisation section in each proposal where the researchers must state how they will realise the use of knowledge by third parties. Each proposal is subjected to the same critical review process by independent experts in which scientific quality and utilisation carry equal weighting. Furthermore, each proposal must always be accompanied by a statement of intention from actual or potential users. Representatives of these users sit on the User Committee appointed per project and supervise the research. This approach applies to all of AES's activities.

About half of the AES budget is allocated to the Open Technology Programme. This consists of independent projects. The other half of the budget is available for a number of other types of funding. Within Perspectief, programmes of interrelated projects are funded. Perspective programmes are strongly characterised by consortia of research institutes and users. Within Partnership, collaborative programmes are formulated around explicit research questions from companies. In a specific Partnership programme AES usually recognises a single company as a partner. Research proposals are also called for via the individual researcher funding instrument Innovational Research Incentive Scheme of NWO and in the specific case of valorisation from the funding instrument Take-off for entrepreneurial researchers.

In practice those submitting funding proposals to AES are interested in socially relevant subjects and conversely these subjects continue to elicit scientifically interesting questions. Without any guidance the vast majority of AES research fits superbly within the top sectors of the Dutch government and the strategic agendas of the Dutch government, and the universities.