Newsletter June 2016

Edito

We are pleased to report that in the past few months the FWO has taken some important steps in the transition process that has been ongoing since 2015. 

 

At the administrative level, the new, complete Board of Trustees met for the first time on June 22. We are delighted to welcome the four independent administrators who were appointed to sit on the new FWO Board of Trustees. They will think and act along with us; their task, like that of the other administrators, is to ensure the optimal functioning of the FWO, away from any direct interests.  

 

The new Board of Trustees has high ambitions and is fully committed to further developing the project that the FWO stands for: to pioneer excellent research, with the focus on the “breakthrough character”. Over the next few months we will, together with the FWO administration, be working on a reform of the FWO evaluation procedure. The intention is not to effect a revolution, but to supplement the already strong points that characterise today's evaluation procedure with international best practices. This should enable us to ensure the FWO's future growth and success.

 

In the past few months some major steps have already been made towards the implementation of the transition. The first calls of TBM and SBO in the new FWO context were a huge success. We received many applications, which are currently being evaluated. For TBM the financing decision will be made already next month.  Last week another major step was taken with the launch of the first FWO call for SB grants. The entire FWO team has worked very hard to have a brand new online form ready by June 15. You can read all about it further on in this newsletter.

 

With the many new initiatives and programmes that the FWO embarked upon during the past months, we would almost forget about the ongoing "regular" FWO calls. I would therefore like to congratulate the over 200 FWO PhD fellows and the over 240 postdoctoral  fellows on their appointment. As always, the expert panels had a hard time selecting the projects to be financed from the over 2100 applications that were submitted. The quality was even higher than in previous years, so that the final proposals were the result of long hours of meetings.  My thanks go out to the many experts and the entire FWO team who also this year ensured that the procedure ran smoothly and coherently. 

 

As for now, I wish everyone relaxing and inspiring holidays, and look already forward to the serendipitous results of the new FWO researchers!

 

Willy Verstraete

President FWO

In the spotlight

First FWO call for doctoral (PhD) grants strategic basic research (SB) launched

On June 15, the FWO launched the first call for doctoral (PhD) grants strategic basic research (SB). The support programme of the same name was for years known as ‘the IWT grants’. The IWT (Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology) was merged on 1 January 2016 into the Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, with the strategic research programmes being transferred to the FWO.

 

The call for doctoral (PhD) grants SB is aimed at young researchers who want to develop into strategically thinking and innovation-oriented scientists. The doctoral (PhD) projects stand for challenging and innovative research offering the potential to generate, in the longer term, innovative applications (products, processes, services) with economic added value. Such potential applications may lead to innovations for companies or sectors, and/or fit into the VRWI transition areas.

 

In determining the call modalities and the evaluation and selection process, maximum integration of good practices from the IWT and the FWO and project-based rationalisation were the key priorities. This allows the programme to better position itself conceptually ('strategic' research and economic finality) with respect to the other programmes for predoctoral fellowships.

 

The core of the evaluation is the oral defence by candidate before an expert panel. These panels are made up of international academics and R&D specialists from industry. The evaluation criteria focus on the candidate, the project and the potential applications, with the candidate's qualities (potential doctoral skills, technical knowledge and application-oriented insight) carrying the greatest weight.

 

The call runs until Thursday 15 September 2016. Candidates can submit their application through the FWO e-portal. The FWO Board of Trustees will award 200 SB grants in mid-December.

» More information on the following page

Appointment of new administrators

The Flemish government has appointed on the recommendation of Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister for Economy, Science and Innovation four independent administrators for the Board of Trustees of the FWO.

 

With the appointment of An Michiels (Bayer Crop Science), An Van de Vel (Umicore), Ludo Lauwers (Janssen) and Jos van Sas (Nokia Bell Labs) as independent administrators from industry, the complete FWO Board of Trustees is in place.

» View the complete composition

Vacancies Expertpanels

The yearly call for new experts for the FWO Expertpanels is now online. This year, the FWO is seeking 39 experts associated with Flemish universities and 34 experts associated with universities or scientific institutions outside of Flanders. Applications can be submitted through the online module until Friday 9 September 2016. The new members will take up their three-year term on 01 January 2017.

» More information can be found on the FWO website

Call 'expression of interest' for experts SB programme

On 15 June 2016, the FWO launched the call for doctoral (PhD) grants strategic basic research (SB): /en/fellowships-funding/phd-fellowships/doctoral-(phd)-grant-strategic-basic-research-(sb)/.

 

For the evaluation and selection of candidates, expert panels are set up for each research topic. An SB Expertpanel typically consists of 5 to 6 experts and evaluates 12 to 16 candidates. The judging is based on an interview of the candidates. The SB panel sessions take place at the FWO in Brussels between 7 November and 8 December 2016.

 

The SB Expertpanels are manned by Flemish and foreign experts having a broad scientific expertise and an in-depth knowledge of innovation and economically oriented applications. Both academics and experts working in research and development in industry will be invited. The panel members receive an expert fee of €650 and foreign experts are refunded their travel and accommodation expenses.

 

Although the expert panels will be set up ad hoc on the basis of the applications submitted, the FWO is already launching a call for expressions of interest from experts from both academic and industrial communities.

 

You can register your interest to participate, with description of your expertise areas, a concise CV, or reference to Linkedin or a personal web page, via SB@fwo.be.

News

Awarded scientific prizes

  • IBL Grants Medical Research (150.000 euro): Mohamed Lamkanfi (UGent)
  • IBM-Belgium Prijzen voor Informatica (5.000 euro): Stijn Volckaert (UGent)
  • Wetenschappelijke prijs McKinsey & Company (5.000 euro): Andy Gijbels (KU Leuven)
  • Wetenschappelijke prijs Alcatel-Lucent Bell (8.000 euro): Timothy De Keulenaer (UGent)

International news

Cooperation agreement with India (DBT) signed

Following the princely mission to India in 2013, Minister Philippe Muyters and Indian ambassador Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri signed on 2 May 2016 a framework agreement for bilateral cooperation in the field of biotechnology between the FWO and the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology Government of the Republic of India (DBT). India is in fact regarded as a growing economic market with an increasingly greater potential for excellent scientific research both in terms of infrastructure and human capital. In addition, various Flemish universities and research institutions have already established extensive partnerships with India. In the context of this agreement DBT and FWO will examine how they can best encourage and support Indo-Flemish research in the area of biotechnology.

Launch event Flemish-Quebecois research projects

As part of the third call for joint research projects by research groups from Flanders and Quebec, the FWO and the ‘Fonds de Recherche de Québec’ (FRQ) selected five excellent interdisciplinary research projects for funding. To mark the festive inauguration of the implementation of these projects – which officially started in January 2016 – a launch event took place in Montreal on May 18, 2016, in the presence of Rémi Quirion, the 'scientific en chef du Québec' and for the secretariat-general of the FWO, Hans Willems. A number of the financed research projects were presented in detail by the respective researchers, with special attention being paid to the international and interdisciplinary character of the projects. Finally, ways were explored to encourage this successful collaboration between Quebec and Flanders.

[PEGASUS]², giving wings to your career - results first call

Within the [PEGASUS]² mobility programme for postdoctoral researchers it was agreed with the European Commission that the FWO would launch two calls. The result of the first call (with deadline 1 February 2016) is now known:

 

The first call produced a total of 65 INCOMING and 16 OUTGOING fellowship applications. The Board of Trustees decided to award 16 INCOMING and 4 OUTGOING fellowships, thereby applying a success rate of 24.19% for the complete [PEGASUS]² programme. These fellowships with a term of three years will start between 1 October 2016 and 28 February 2017.

 

You can here view the list of awarded [PEGASUS]² fellowships of the first call.

 

The applications submitted under the second call will be evaluated in the autumn by the monodisciplinary FWO expert panels and the International Cooperation Commission (ICC). The Board of Trustees will then endorse the ranking. These fellowships are due to start between 1 January 2017 and 31 May 2017.

First call for cooperation projects with the Czech Republic (CAS)

In the context of the ongoing agreement with the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS), consideration was given to the question on how to deepen the existing cooperation between Flemish and Czech researchers. The result is a new mobility programme that offers Flemish and Czech researchers the opportunity to strengthen their academic collaboration and implement joint research activities through projects with a two-year duration.

FWO and CAS are now launching a first call for such cooperation projects to promote scientific cooperation between Flanders and the Czech Republic in all research areas. Applications can be submitted up to and including 8 September 2016 (17:00 Belgian time). Consequently, the continuous application procedure for exchanges is replaced by a procedure with regular calls for cooperation projects with specific attention to young researchers. Thus, each project on the Flemish side must include at least one young researcher having no more than 6 years of postdoc experience, who will have to carry out a mission in the Czech Republic.  

FWO and HAS provide funding to pay the flight tickets, accommodation and daily allowance of the exchanged researchers.

Changed online application form "Grant for participation in a workshop or course abroad"

The "Grant for participation in a workshop or course abroad" supports researchers who wish to participate in a course or workshop abroad. Applicants can now also make a substantive contribution to such courses or workshops, although this is not an eligibility requirement. However, a researcher who lectures or contributes to a workshop or course, will now have to attach an invitation letter, the title and an abstract of the lecture/contribution to his/her application.  

 

The new extended application form for “Grant for participation in a workshop or course abroad" can be found on the FWO e-portal.

Across the boarders

ERA-NET

In addition, for various ERA-NETS a final decision has been made regarding the allocation and funding of projects with Flemish participation.

 

BiodivERsA cofund:

 

  • URBANMYCOSERVE - Ben Somers, KU Leuven, €190,000
  • BIO-Tide - Tom Moens, Ghent University, €170,880
  • SoilForEUROPE - Kris Verheyen, Ghent University, €142,500
  • CROSSLINK - Peter Goethals, Ghent University, €190,000

 

CHIST-ERA JTC 2015 – 2 topics:

 

à Topic1: User-Centric Security, Privacy and Trust in the Internet of Things (SPTIoT)

  • Cocoon - Johnny Fontaine, Ghent University, €175,000

 

à Topic 2: Terahertz Band for Next-Generation Mobile Communication Systems (TMCS)

  • WISDOM - Patrick Reynaert, KU Leuven, €190,000

 

HERA cofund:

 

  • PriArc - Maarten Delbeke, Ghent University, €200,000
  • MuMiL-EU - Mark Janse, Ghent University, €175,000
» More information on each call

Results ERC Advanced Grants

  • Results European Research Council Advanced Grants 2015 call

 

The results for the European Research Council Advanced Grants was published on 14 April 2016. Of the 277 laureats, there were 7 researchers with Flemish host institutions:

-        Koen Binnemans (KU Leuven)

-        Luc De Raedt (KU Leuven)

-        Geert De Schutter (Universiteit Gent)

-        Piet Demeester (Universiteit Gent)

-        Gert Desmet (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

-        Ingrid Verbauwhede (KU Leuven)

-        Severine Vermeire (KU Leuven)

Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI)

Under the ‘Joint Programming Initiatives’ (JPI), which seek to coordinate research programmes of different countries within and outside Europe, the following call with FWO participation was opened in April 2016:

 

» For details on upcoming JPI calls see the FWO website

Press

  • 31 maart: Zes nieuwe Odysseus-projecten UGent krijgen 20 miljoen euro startfinanciering
  • 8 april: Rectoren en politici vechten om macht in onderzoeksfonds (De Tijd)
  • 30 april: Lange tenen van Erdogan mogen debat over persvrijheid niet in de weg staan (opiniestuk) (De Tijd)
  • 4 mei: Ik wil best eenmaal verdacht lijken, maar niet telkens weer (opiniestuk) (De Morgen en demorgen.be)
  • 13 mei: Onderzoekers krijgen geen beurs omdat Vlaamse pot te snel op is (De Tijd)
  • 14 mei: Een medicijn van anderhalve kilo (De Tijd)
  • 17 mei: ‘Het is zoeken naar afwijkende deeltjes’ (De Tijd)
  • 17 mei: De proffen zouden beter wel staken (opiniestuk) (De Standaard)
  • 30 mei: Raad van bestuur FWO volledig samengesteld (Belga)
  • 11 juni: Raad van bestuur FWO volledig samengesteld (dvo.be)
  • 11 juni: Professor doctor Mondjedicht (De Morgen)
  • 15 juni: Gelijkheid als doel op zich roept inderdaad vragen op, maar vrijheid op zich doet dat evenzeer (opiniestuk) (demorgen.be)