Newsletter April 2015
Towards a new FWO
It was written in the stars that 2014, which also featured the "mother of all elections", would be an exciting year. So, it was with great excitement that we looked forward to the new government agreement and the changes it might bring for the FWO.
The FWO was very pleased to hear that this Flemish government too, intends to continue to invest in the importance of scientific research and is willing to earmark the necessary funds to this end, even in these difficult budgetary times. While cuts appear unavoidable in other policy areas, an ambitious growth plan worth €500 million is being developed for R&D.
In his Policy Paper, Minister Muyters also stresses the importance of raising the pass rates for FWO fellowships and projects, citing 33% as the minimum limit of applications for which funding should be available. This is not a randomly selected limit, but one that shows, based on international benchmarking, that such a success rate ensures sufficient competitiveness to fund only the most outstanding researchers, while at the same time being sufficiently realistic so as not to act as a deterrent.
However, the biggest challenge which the Policy Note had in store for the FWO, lay elsewhere. IWT, the agency responsible for the funding of applied research and innovation in Flanders, will cease to exist. The IWT itself will merge with the current Agentschap Ondernemen (Agency for Entrepreneurship), but a number of more academically oriented programmes will in future be managed by the FWO.
Thus, the FWO will in the short term accommodate the SBO and TBM programmes as well as the IWT Doctoral (PhD) Grants for Strategic Basic Research. Specific working groups with members of IWT and the FWO administration, supplemented with representatives from the various stakeholders, are working hard on finalising the practical arrangements.
If everything goes as planned, the FWO will host these calls in 2016.
The specific character of these programmes will remain unchanged under FWO management. The valorisation aspect, for example, will be maintained and will continue to play an important role in the evaluation of applications submitted under these actions.
In addition to the pillar for strategic basic research, the disappearance of the Hercules Foundation will result in a third pillar being created with the FWO, notably that for the funding of major research infrastructure. The Flemish government has in fact decided to assign the Hercules programmes to the FWO. Here, too, the FWO will see to it that the programmes retain their specific nature and the evaluation procedure is optimally matched to the specificity of these programmes.
The current pillar focusing on fundamental research, supplemented with the two new pillars, will each retain a separate budget line in order to ensure the future continuity of these research programmes.
The Minister's decision to entrust the management of these major programmes to the FWO is an important show of appreciation. The FWO is therefore busy preparing to turn the new FWO, the so-called FWO+, into a success story.
Together with the colleagues of the Hercules Foundation and IWT, the FWO will do everything to allow the transition to proceed as smoothly as possible, so that you, the researcher, will not experience any inconvenience. All efforts will be made to have everything ready in time. We will inform you in detail about the progress of this process through this Newsletter and other communication channels.
In the spotlight
Subsequent to the current PEGASUS programme which expires at the end of January 2016, the FWO will launch a new mobility programme within the COFUND work programme of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) of Horizon 2020. The EU will again provide the necessary co-financing for the five-year [PEGASUS]² programme, which is further evidence of the international appreciation of the FWO's procedures, standards and programmes.
The official launch of [PEGASUS]² is scheduled for September 2015 with 1 February 2016 and 1 May 2016 as submission deadlines. Detailed information will be made available on www.fwo.be .» Read the full press release
In its 2014 Annual, the FWO lets a number of researchers expound their view on the importance of science communication. The FWO in fact aims to play a leading role in conveying the social relevance of fundamental research. To this end, the FWO organises various initiatives such as the Grey Cells evenings (in collaboration with Eos and deBuren), the editions of Kennismakers, and participation in the European Science Open Forum (ESOF). In the Annual, 5 researchers, all at different phases in their careers, explain how they communicate their research to the general public.
The Annual also features an overview of all financing channels and figures of the FWO. The Annual will shortly be available on our website and sent out in printed form.
New agreement with the Hungarian Academy of Science
The official signing of the new cooperation agreement between the FWO and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS) took place in Brussels on March 19th.» Read more
The FWO is delighted to launch this spring a new Tournesol programme between Flanders and France. This mobility programme continues to build on the success of the previous Tournesol programme which, until last year, was organised by the Education Department. The FWO considers the continuation of this renovated mobility programme towards France, as an opportunity for Flemish research.
The FWO each year provides €20,000, with an equal amount being provided by the French embassy via the Hubert Curien Partnerships (PHC). In total it will be possible to finance the travel and accommodation costs for some 10 exchange projects of maximum €2,000 per year per party. The exchange projects will have a maximum duration of two years and must be submitted by a supervisor who will seek funding for supporting the mobility of young researchers (predoctoral or postdoctoral researchers with less than 10 years postdoctoral experience).» All information about the new call
Announcement of new international cooperation calls
The FWO is currently preparing the launch of a number of new calls. Calls planned for 2015 include the cooperation projects with the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Argentinian Ministry for Science Technology and Productive innovation (MINCyT) and the South Korean National Research Foundation. In addition, as part of the bilateral research cooperation projects, the FWO is planning a joint call with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the Vietnamese National Foundation for Science and Technology (NAFOSTED).
Science Europe - EFSI threatens Horizon2020
Science Europe profiles itself as the guardian of the interests and visions of fifty European RFOs, (research funding organisations) and RPOs (research performing organisations). The FWO is one of them and our Secretary General is the vice-president. Science Europe represents them vis-à-vis bodies and organisations, including the European Commission, which, with the European Research Area (ERA) created in 2000 aims to strengthen the European dimension of scientific research by better aligning its policy and actions with those of the member states and their organisations.» Read more
ERC Starting Grants 2014
On 15 December 2014 the European Research Council announced the laureates for the 2014 call for ERC Starting Grants. The 375 laureates include 9 researchers at Flemish research institutes.
The Flemish laureates for ERC-StG-2014 are:
- Arthur Dyevre (KU Leuven)
- Tom Francart (KU Leuven)
- Ruth Krebs (UGent)
- Moritz Nowack (VIB - UGent)
- Peter Petré (KU Leuven)
- Tineke Van Osselaer (UAntwerpen)
- Marianne Van Remoortel (UGent)
- Pieter Van Vlierberghe (UGent)
- Hans Verbeeck (UGent)
ERC Proof of Concept 2014
On 15 February 2015, the complete list of laureates for the two ERC Proof of Concepts calls for 2014 was released. The 59 laureates include 2 researchers at Flemish research institutes.
The Flemish laureates for ERC-PoC-2014 are:
- Guy Marin (UGent)
- Dries Van Thourhout (UGent)
ERC Consolidator Grants 2014
On 12 March 2015, the laureates for the 2014 call for ERC Consolidator Grants were announced. The 372 winners include 10 researchers affiliated to Flemish research institutes.
The Flemish winners of the ERC Consolidator Grants are:
- Frederic Amant (KU Leuven)
- Tom Beckers (KU Leuven)
- Kevin Braeckmans (UGent)
- Leen Decin (KU Leuven)
- Han Remaut (VIB - VUB)
- Massimo Santoro (VIB - KU Leuven)
- Joost Schymkowitz (VIB - KU Leuven)
- Veronique Van Speybroeck (UGent)
- Frank Verstraete (UGent)
- Patrik Verstreken (VIB - KU Leuven)
COST Info Session – 9 March 2015
Another national info session was organised in the Belspo buildings on March 9th. The info session was attended by over 60 participants from the research and business communities. One of the topics was the new application and evaluation procedure. We could also welcome a number of COST action presidents and participants who told us about their experience and contribution to a COST action.
Across the boarders
FWO remains a committed partner in ERA-NET, a programme of the European Framework Programme Horizon 2020 to bring research financiers and research teams in Europe together to work on common issues.
In 2015, the following calls, with support from the FWO for Flemish research projects, have already been (pre-)announced:
7 January 2015
8 January 2015
9 January 2015
15 January 2015
19 January 2015
28 January 2015
HERA Uses of the Past
3 February 2015
16 February 2015
As part of the 2014 ERA-CAPS call, for research in the area of botany, Professor Lieven De Veylder (UGent - VIB) was awarded an FWO project.
» More information on each call
The FWO also continues to invest in the other coordination initiative, the JPIs. It does, however, only support ongoing FWO projects that fit in with the call, with extra resources.
The following calls were (pre-)announced in early 2015:
15 January 2015
Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans)"
17 January 2015
Joint Programme Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPI AMR)
19 January 2015
A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life (JPI HDHL)
Compared with other programmes in Horizon 2020, such as ERC and MSCA, the FET Open programme (Future and Emerging Technologies – novel ideas for radically new technologies) is not very well known among Belgian researchers and companies. A possible explanation for this could be the lack of clarity about the conditions that a good FET-Open project must meet (see work programme).
That is why the FWO's NCP team, in collaboration with FNRS, organised a workshop on the FET-Open Programme on February 2, 2015. Three researchers were invited to elaborate and present an idea for a potential FET-Open project to an audience composed of FET officials of the European Commission and members of the research administrations of Belgian universities and research centres. Interactive small group discussions were organised to verify how these ideas can be incorporated into the work programme of FET-Open.
The full report of this workshop can be found here.
MSCA Individual Fellowships 2014
In February 2015 the applicants for the 2014 call for Individual Fellowships (IF) under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) were informed about the results. A total of 1,305 projects will be financed, including 26 projects submitted by researchers at Flemish research institutes.
- 10 februari: De paradox van ‘Safer Internet Day’ (opinie Sander De Ridder) (dewereldmorgen.be)
- 23 februari: Popcorn Time voor Jean Valjean (opinie Yoni Van den Eede) (De Morgen)
- 28 februari: Ondergefinancierde sectoren in Limburg (Het Belang van Limburg)
- 1 maart: Tim Verbelen wint Alcatel-Lucent Bell Scientific Award 2014 (iminds.be)
- 2 maart: Vicieuze cirkel doorbreken (Het Belang van Limburg)
- 5 maart: 6,3 miljoen euro Europese steun voor FWO (Engineering.net)
- 10 maart: Als de onderzoeker ook een ceo is (opinie Petra De Sutter) (De Standaard)
- 14 maart: 'Elk van ons draagt een rugzak met mislukkingen met zich mee' (De Standaard)
- 17 maart: Welk taboe op falen? (opinie Magaly Rodríguez García) (De Standaard)
- 25 maart: Onderzoek UAntwerpen ontrafelt gehoormechanisme (Engineering.net)
- 27 maart: Umicore reikt Materials Technology Award uit aan Leuvense onderzoeker (Engineering.net)
- 27 maart: Stoffen in ons lichaam gevonden om darmkanker op te sporen (nieuwsblad.be - goedgevoel.be - demorgen.be – standaard.be - Engineering.net - Belga)
- 1 april: Remgeld op justitie (opinie Dries Deweer) (deredactie.be)
- 15/05/2015: Bilaterale cooperation Quebec
- 15/06/2015: Scientific prize Foundation AstraZeneca Bioinformatics 2015
- 15/06/2015: Scientific prize Foundation AstraZeneca Cardiovascular Diseases and Metabolics 2015
- 15/06/2015: Scientific prize Foundation AstraZeneca Respiratory Diseases 2015
- 15/06/2015: Scientific prize Foundation AstraZeneca Oncology 2015
- 30/06/2015: Cooperation with France -TOURNESOL
- 31/07/2015: ExxonMobil chemical European science & engineering award
- 30/09/2015: Odysseusprogramme
Numbers and figures
Recently awardes scientific prizes
- Umicore Materials Technology MSc Awards 2015
- Tom Renders (KU Leuven)
- Jonas Bekaert (UAntwerpen)