Large-scale research infrastructure

Objective

Research infrastructure comprises all facilities and sources that promote the performance of cross-border and strategic basic research across all scientific disciplines. Besides scientific infrastructure, this includes collections, natural habitats, corpora and databases (including digital opening up).

Large-scale research infrastructure is defined as research infrastructure with a total financing cost of at least EUR 1,000,000 (including the non-refundable portion of VAT).

Features

  • Project period: 4 years, renewable with maximum two years
  • Eligible organizations: a research group or research groups at a Flemish university, a Flemish university college, a strategic research centre (IMEC, VIB, Flanders Make, VITO), an institution for post-initial education (Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp Management School, Vlerick Business School); a partnership agreement between the above bodies; or a partnership agreement between at least one of the aforementioned bodies and one or more third parties.
  • Acceptable costs:
    • Equipment: Costs for research investments, i.e. the costs of purchasing and connecting the research infrastructure or purchasing the components for the construction of the planned research infrastructure, including the non-refundable portion of VAT. This also includes the upgrading, i.e. the substantial improvement of existing research infrastructure;
    • Personnel costs for the development and construction of the research infrastructure. This also includes the personnel costs for upgrading the research infrastructure and the costs for the operational or maintenance personnel once the infrastructure is up and running;
    • Operational costs consisting of maintenance costs over the entire depreciation period, i.e. the costs arising from maintenance agreements or research infrastructure upgrades and equipment repairs.
  • Funding percentage: 70% of the subsidisable costs. In order to stimulate cooperation between centres of knowledge and between centres of knowledge and third parties, this percentage can be increased to:
    • 90% of the subsidisable costs if the proposal is made by research groups from more than one subsidy-eligible body and it is demonstrated in the application dossier that all applicants account for at least half of the amount they would have to pay if the remaining 10% of the subsidisable costs were proportionately distributed. This is to emphasise that there must be a real contribution and commitment from all applicants, and that it is not simply a formal construct.
    • 100% of the portion of the subsidisable costs to be funded by the university or university college itself if at least 25% of the qualifying costs are borne by a body other than a university or university college.
  • Available budget for current call large scale RI: € 9,455,000
  • Call closed
  • Announcement of results: End of March 2018

Important changes compared to the previous call

  • Project proposals have to be submitted via the FWO e-portal.
  • Only three cost categories eligible for subsidies are retained: equipment, personnel costs and operational costs. For each year these costs should be specified per institution.
  • The overhead percentage applicable to research infrastructure projects is 10 percent.  This overhead must be used primarily to cover the costs for modifications to buildings and connection costs relating to the research infrastructure. The rule that a maximum of 15 percent of the subsidy allocated to the application can go towards costs of modifying buildings and connection costs, equipment repair costs and personnel costs for the permanent maintenance and operation of the research infrastructure, no longer exists.
  • Maximum 15 percent of the allocated subsidy may be used for personnel training, education and retraining costs on the use of the research infrastructure.
  • Only a cooperation with foreign organisations is allowed if the research infrastructure to be subsidised is located in Flanders. 

Procedure

  • For decisions regarding the support of investment initiatives for large-scale research infrastructure the FWO board of trustees relies on the advice of experts who assess the scientific quality of the applications, and subsequently verify, for those applications that are rated as excellent, whether the associated investment plans are sufficiently realistic and objective. Two expert committees are established: the Science and the Invest Committees as defined in the internal and external peer review regulations.
  • As supervisor of the project, you prepare your proposal via the FWO e-portal and transfer your proposal in preparation to your host institution (=main applicant of the proposal). The internal deadline is september 18th. Please contact the research coordination office of your research institution for practicalities.
  • Your host institution submits your proposal to FWO via the e-portal by September 25, 2017 at 5PM.
  • Your application is submitted to a number of experts non active in Belgium.
  • The supervisor receives the anonymous reports from the international reviewers and has the possibility to provide feedback. This is scheduled for the period November – December 2017.
  • The members of the Science Committee are given access to the referee reports and the applicants' responses. On this basis, the Science Committee assesses in January 2018 all applications at its first meeting and draws up a list of applications for which a hearing is to be arranged. At this meeting the Committee also makes the preparations for this hearing. At the hearing, applicants are given the opportunity to explain their application and to answer questions from the members of the Science Committee. After all the hearings have taken place, the Science Committee formulates its recommendations and ranks the applications deemed excellent.
  • The Invest Committee investigates in February 2018 the investment plans of those proposals deemed excellent by the Science Committee. The Invest Committee then investigates whether any needs or opportunities exist other than those identified in the application, in the areas of inter-institutional or inter-association cooperation, or cooperation with domestic or foreign research centres, scientific institutions, or companies. On the basis of these two assessments, the Invest Committee formulates a recommendation, which is added to the Science Committee’s recommendations. 
  • The FWO board of trustees makes a final decision on the financing to be allocated  during its meeting in March 2018 in line with the following principles:
    • The list of applications deemed excellent by the Science Committee can only be ratified or rejected. If rejected, the Science and Invest Committees are questioned again, this time with an express statement of those elements which the board of trustees believes require further investigation.
    • If the Invest Committee formulates a recommendation on an application dossier, the board of trustees of the FWO will proceed as follows:
      • either the recommendation will be rejected, and the dossier approved;
      • or the recommendation will be accepted in part or in full, and the dossier approved, on the understanding that the financing or investment conditions imposed by the board of trustees will serve as the terms and conditions for obtaining subsidies;
      • or the recommendation will be accepted in part or in full, and the dossier only approved if the board of trustees is shown the necessary remediation within the period it stipulates, to be no less than ten calendar days and no more than sixty calendar days.  
    • If the total amount of subsidies to be granted to infrastructure proposals deemed excellent exceeds the available amount, the proposals will be subsidised in order of excellence until a proposal is reached which cannot be fully funded.  Proposals deemed excellent that are not funded will derive no rights from this in the next call.

Regulations and downloads

Contact

General questions on the call for large scale research infrastructure or specific questions related to submitting an application for this call, can be obtained from the secretariat of the Research Foundation - Flanders, Egmontstraat 5, 1000 BRUSSELS, tel 02 512 512.91 10 or infrastructuur@fwo.be or contact your research coordination office of your research institution.

Questions regarding the functionality of the e-portal should be addressed to fwohelpdesk@fwo.be.