Regulations for the Odysseus Programme
The General Regulations apply.
Detailed information, full regulations and forms are available online.
Any additional information can be obtained from the secretariat of the Research Foundation - Flanders, Egmontstraat 5, 1000 BRUSSELS, tel 02 512 91 10.
The Flemish Government launches the Odysseus programme through the FWO.
The Odysseus initiative is intended to offer start-up funding to a number of outstanding researchers who have built up a career outside Flanders, in order to develop a research group within a Flemish university or to set up a research line and become progressively more involved in the Flemish research establishment, for a period of five years.
The subsidy is used for two types of start-up funding:
Odysseus Group I
International leading research
Researchers who are internationally recognised as pioneers in their field and who already have a position at a foreign university, can apply for an Odysseus Group I position. It is expected that these researchers already lead their own research group within the institute to which they are affiliated. This research group should consist of permanent staff, several post-docs and a number of PhD students. The support for this set-up ranges from €400,000 to €1,500,000 per year (€2,000,000 to €7,500,000 for the 5-year period)
Odysseus Group II
Researchers with the potential to develop a leading international status
Researchers who have at least 3 years’ post-doctoral experience abroad and whose work has convinced leading colleagues in the field that they have potential to develop a leading international position can apply for an Odysseus Group II position. These researchers are expected to be leading a small team within a research group, consisting of one or more PhD students and possibly one or more post-docs. They have some experience applying for external research funding. Within a few years they will be able to mature to the level required for a position as part of the independent academic staff. The support for this set-up ranges from €100,000 to €200,000 per year (€500,000 to €1,000,000 for the 5-year period).
There is no fixed distribution formula for the two groups.
Only Flemish universities can nominate candidates to the FWO, either independently or in collaboration with other universities.
- have a key position at a foreign institution no later than one year before the date of the application,
- have been affiliated to a foreign institution for at least three years in the last five years,
- meet the criteria of excellence, as demonstrated in the CV and bibliography,
- submit a research plan to the university or universities concerned, including a budget with an indicative distribution of the planned expenditure over a 5-year period. This research plan must be approved by the university or universities and be consistent with the research policy.
Upon nominating a candidate the university must:
- confirm that the applicant has a ZAP framework position (group I) or a post-doctoral grant (group II) with a duration of five years, as well as the necessary infrastructure in place,
- approve the research plan and indicate how it fits in with the university's research policy.
The ZAP framework position must be an appointment of at least 50% during the first year of the Odysseus project and at least 80% from the second year.
In the event of a nomination from two or more universities, the latter should put together a joint proposal.
The costs of the grants to be made available by the universities cannot be paid for by the Odysseus programme.
The complete nomination file must be submitted in English.
A permanent international multidisciplinary jury of experts examines whether the nominated candidates meet the applicable requirements of excellence, whether the research plan is of high quality and whether it can be implemented with the funds applied for.
The FWO selects an international multidisciplinary jury, which is supplemented with referees from each discipline, who have a specific expertise in relation to the submitted files. The Jury, which handles both groups I and II, consists of 7 members (no more than two-thirds of the members are of the same gender). The jury members are not affiliated to a Belgian university and are eminent scientists. The permanent Jury members are appointed for a period of three years, which can be renewed.
For the evaluation of each candidate, the jury receives scientific advice from at least two and in practice three international referees who have the specific expertise in relation to the submitted file. If the opinions of two referees differ, a third opinion will be required.
The Jury can propose budgetary changes to the funding.
The Board of Trustees of the FWO decides on the award of the funding. If funds of the Odysseus programme are available, a proposal can only be rejected if the committee rules that the nominated candidate does not meet the requirements.
The FWO publishes the scientific evaluation of the selected researchers on its website.
The awarded grants are specified in detail in an agreement. The parties to the agreement are:
- the appointed researcher, hereinafter called the supervisor;
- the FWO;
- the university - host institution.
A co-supervisor is designated for the facilitating function within the host institution.
- The supervisor is committed to undertake the subsidized research.
The supervisor acts as responsible spokesperson for the administration of the Foundation and manages the funds.
The supervisor or co-supervisor cannot receive a salary or compensation under the relevant agreement.
- The Research Foundation-Flanders undertakes to pay out the subsidy stipulated in the agreement throughout the duration of the research.
- The host institution undertakes to appoint the persons from group I within its ZAP framework and to provide a postdoctoral research grant of five years for group II, as well as the necessary infrastructure and space.
The host institution must approve the proposed research plan at the time of the nomination.
The agreements have a duration of five years. All funds stipulated in the agreement are intended for financing the approved research of the supervisor's project.
The agreement can be terminated by the parties. The supervisor shall use the awarded funds exclusively for the execution of the approved research project. As soon as their use no longer meets this requirement, the funding or their balances shall return to the FWO. In that case, or if the agreement is terminated by one of the parties, the agreement shall cease to exist. The legal obligations with respect to the remaining staff shall be complied with. The funding required for this shall be charged to the Odysseus grant. The remaining balance shall be written off degressively at a rate of 25% per year.
Any fundamental change to the ongoing research programme shall be submitted to the FWO.
Recruitment of scientific and technical staff:
- Appointments under an Odysseus agreement must comply with the applicable legal provisions and in accordance with the compensations and regulations in force at the universities as regards the hierarchy of grades, the requirements for recruitment and promotion, and the remunerations. The universities may impose additional requirements if deemed necessary.
- As far as is possible within the project objectives, the research shall be organised so as to enable predoctoral researchers to obtain a PhD by thesis.
- Each year, before April 30, the host institution shall submit to the FWO a list containing an overview of the recruited scientific and technical staff. The list includes the following information: surname, first name, date of birth, nationality, date of start of employment, date of end of employment, employment percentage, type of contract, statute (BAP - PhD researcher, BAP – WM, ATP…) and highest degree obtained.
All material acquired under consumables or equipment grant of the FWO shall become the property of the university.
This institution undertakes to keep the material at the disposal of the researcher for the time that is needed to complete the research for which the grant was awarded. Moreover, it undertakes to neither sell nor lend out the material without prior permission of the FWO.
If the material can be purchased only with the contribution of additional funds, the administrative bodies of the FWO shall decide on the ownership issue in consultation with the relevant authorities.
The following costs qualify as consumables:
- normal consumables required for the execution of the project;
- compensations for services rendered, not subject to any form of social security, e.g. by job students, pollsters, and/or expenditure resulting from the invitation of a guest researcher at the research department, etc.;
- equipment of less than €20,000;
- fees for student stays and participation in conferences abroad provided they are in line with the awarded research project;
- purchase of scientific literature relating to the subject of the research;
- travel costs in Belgium.
Overheads paid to the host institutions are fixed at 6%. Apart from these overheads, the following items shall not be charged to an FWO grant:
- costs of renting, heating, lighting and maintaining premises and furniture, as these are costs that are normally to be borne by the host institution;
- management or administration costs.
The overheads that are paid to the host institutions are charged to the Odysseus programme.
General financial provisions
Supporting documents are accepted if they are dated during the term of the programme and the following three years. Any unused funds shall be returned to the FWO.
The management of the awarded grants is entrusted to the accounting department of the university or the scientific institution to which the supervisors are affiliated.
The financial year begins on January 1 and ends on December 31.
Distribution of the funds among the institutions:
80% of the funds are distributed among the host institutions on the basis of the five-year average of the BOF key, preceding the financial year in which the next five-year Odysseus programme commences.
20% are reserved by the Board of Trustees of the FWO for the top proposals from group I. All parties can build up drawing rights with unused funds.
Universities can use their own funds for pre-financing projects, provided the amount does not exceed the amount they will receive under the Odysseus programme.
The evaluation is carried out by the university / host institution
for Group I after the fourth year, and
for Group II during the fourth year, at which time the host institution will decide on the further career. The modified research plan is communicated to the FWO.
The FWO receives a copy of the evaluation report.
Payments, reports and audits shall be undertaken in accordance with the provisions of the regulations for Research projects.
For any cases not provided for in these regulations, reference shall be made to the regulations and jurisprudence of the Research Foundation - Flanders.