Newsletter December 2014

Edito

2014 comes to an end. It became a very special year. The new government agreement, finalised during the summer, caused shock waves in Flanders, also among researchers.

 

For the scheduled elections for May 2014, the FWO underlined in its Memorandum once more his core message: the importance of fundamental research, conducted by the most outstanding researchers, for both wellbeing and welfare of our society.

 

The message of the FWO didn’t fall on deaf ears. The FWO was therefore quite pleased to find that the same starting point had been adopted in the government agreement and the resultant policy paper by Minister Muyters.  The increase in pass rates for fellowship and project applications was also an integral part of these documents, and can only be encouraged by the FWO.

 

The Government Agreement and the Policy Paper also contained a surprise. To allow for a more efficient organisation of the Flemish subsidy landscape, the intention was expressed to create one portal for businesses applying for public funding on the one hand, and one for researchers on the other hand.  The FWO was contacted for the design of the researcher portal.  The FWO considers this as an important appreciation of his functioning.

 

Consequently, the FWO has started work on the elaboration of the plan in consultation with the Cabinet of Minister Muyters, the Hercules Foundation and the IWT. The idea is to accommodate within the FWO+ not only the pillar for fundamental research, but also the programmes for support of Research Infrastructure and Strategic Basic Research. 

 

We will inform you in detail about the progress of this process through this Newsletter and other communication channels during 2015. All parties aim to bring about this transition as smoothly as possible, so that you, the researcher, will not experience any inconvenience, but, on the contrary, will be able to benefit from an optimised service.

In the meantime, the FWO keeps on working to keep up his reputation as a researchers friendly organisation.

 

This year FWO received a new record number of applications for fellowships in February and research projects in April. More than 3,000 applications were administratively processed with the greatest of care and subsequently evaluated by the FWO-Expertpanels. The relentless efforts of the more than 500 panel members and hundreds of external supervisors remain the beating heart of the FWO's operation, with the peers being responsible for the scientific evaluation of the applications.  

 

The beginning of the year was marked by the launch of the new FWO website and many online forms as part of our effort to inform and serve researchers even more quickly and more efficiently. The info sessions organised each year by the FWO at the Flemish universities, should also be seen in this context.

 

For now, I wish you all the best for the festive season and a happy 2015 packed with inspiration, new ideas and innovations!

In the spotlight

The ICM/FWO Fellowship

The Interuniversity College for Management Science, ICM, was founded in 1970. As an independent foundation, both the Flemish and Walloon side each year funded a number of PhD grants towards obtaining a PhD in management science.

On the Flemish side, funding of the ICM has for many years been conducted via the FWO. When the Walloon funding was phased out two years ago, it was only to be expected that the FWO would be playing a more important role in the management of the ICM programmes.

From this call for applications it will therefore be possible to apply for an ICM/FWO fellowship through the E-portal and the online module of the FWO. The basic features of the ICM fellowship have remained unchanged. It is still a three-year PhD grant, in the second year of which the researcher is required to spend a full year at a foreign institute for management studies. The FWO finances the so-called tuition fee (max. €20,000) and associated travel expenses.  

The evaluation procedure for these grants varies slightly from the conventional selection procedures for FWO fellowships. Applicants are required to take a written exam and on the basis of this test the best applicants will be invited for an interview by the evaluation panel.

» More information can be found at the FWO website.

FWO-Colloquium De leefwereld van de onderzoeker

The issue of 'publication pressure' continues to be a hotly debated topic in scientific circles. In the press, too, there is an increasing number of reports of mostly young researchers who complain about the pressure on researchers in general and the publication pressure in particular. The FWO does not want to shy away from this issue, which was reviewed and discussed in detail at a colloquium that took place on 9 December 2014 at the Palace of Academies.

In the first part, a number of prominent policymakers including Minister Philippe Muyters and FWO president and rector of KU Leuven, Rik Torfs, presented their views on the matter. Subsequently, a number of academic experts entered into a debate on a series of obstacles that directly or indirectly apply to the phenomenon of publication pressure.

It made for an engaging afternoon for both guest speakers and attendees.

» You can read the presentations at our website.

Celebration 60 years of CERN

On the occasion of CERN's 60th anniversary, the FWO, together with F.R.S.-FNRS, organised a celebration on 16 December at the Palace of Academies. In the presence of HM Queen Mathilde, our country's scientific contribution to CERN was brought into the limelight and the challenges for the future were discussed.

In 1954 Belgium was one of the founding members of the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN). A CERN travelling exhibition has visited all member states this year, and Belgium had the honour of closing the tour. The exhibition was formally opened by HM Queen Mathilde.

At an academic session, our top scientists (including Catherine Vander Velde, Walter Van Doninck and Steven Lowette), together with CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer, expounded on the merits of the Belgian contribution, but also on the challenges facing CERN following the recent scientific confirmation of the Brout-Englert-Higgs boson particle.

News

Grijze Cellen

Two further editions of our Grey Cells sessions are scheduled for the first half of 2015. A first edition devoted to DNA will be held on Monday 23 February 2015 at the Handelsbeurs in Ghent. On Monday 30 March 2015, two top scientists will hold lecture on 'The sense and non-sense of imprisonment'. This edition will take place at the STUK in Leuven.  Both editions start at 7:30 p.m.

» Make sure to check out our website for the names of the speakers and further information.

New Odysseus researchers

On November 19 the Board of Trustees approved the appointment of 4 new researchers under the Odysseus programme. The Universiteit Gent will welcome Prof. Patrick Barnes-Holmes (Group I) and Prof. Bert De Rybel (Group II). Prof. Victor Gilsing (Group II) will be working at the Universiteit Antwerpen. Finally, Prof. Frank Uwe Renner will carry out his research at the Universiteit Hasselt over the next few years. These researchers will start in the first half of 2015.

Survey FWO-newsletter

The editors of this newsletters wants to ask for your opinion.

That’s why we would like to invite you to fill in the short survey (5 minutes) and give suggestions if you have any.

This information is very valuable for us: it helps the FWO to communicate better. If you fill in the survey, you also make chance to win one of the five FNAC vouchers of 50 euros. We will handle your data confidentially. 

You can start the survey here.

International news

Cooperation Québec - new call

To provide answers to specific scientific questions, it is necessary to pool different expertises. This is one of the reasons why the FWO supports transnational research.  Under the bilateral agreement with the research foundation ‘Fonds de Recherche de Québec’ (FRQ), which groups three funds in different scientific areas, the FWO is planning to launch a call for the financing of two-year joint multi- or interdisciplinary research projects in January 2015. Projects must cover at least two areas of research that belong to at least two of the three foundations in Québec. Detailed information about these interdisciplinary projects, eligibility criteria and conditions can be found at the FWO website from January.  

Cooperation with Turkey

Together with the Scientific and Technological Research Council (TÜBITAK), the FWO has launched a call for exchange projects to be submitted in the fields of information and communication sciences; energy; transport and mobility; materials, engineering and production technologies; social sciences and humanities; medical sciences; food, agriculture, and biotechnology; and cultural, behavioural and social sciences. All projects run for a period of two years and allow researchers to exchange experiences and results with their Turkish peers and to organise joint workshops, conferences and symposia.

» Further information can be found at the FWO website.

Postdoctoral Fellowship Japan

As you will know, the FWO has a highly productive agreement with the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Under the 'Postdoctoral fellowship Japan' programme, JSPS offers researchers the opportunity to carry out scientific research at a Japanese institute recognized by JSPS, for a period of one to two years.

» More information can be found at the FWO website.

Across the boarders

ERA-NET

Within the scope of ERA-NET, a programme of the European member states with support from the European Commission for consortiums of European researchers, the FWO again awarded a number of projects:

- TRANSCAN (translational cancer research)

  • Karin Haustermans, KU Leuven
  • Stefan Van Gool, KU Leuven

- Infect-ERA (infectious diseases)

  • Johan Neyts, KU Leuven

- NEURON II (neurology)

  • Peter Carmeliet, KU Leuven

- EuroNanoMed (nanomedical research)

  • Marie-Josée Tassignon, VUB

- ANIHWA (animal health and welfare)

  • Rob Lavigne, KU Leuven

- E-Rare2 (rare diseases)

  • Elena Levtchencko, KU Leuven

New calls with FWO participation have been opened or announced for E-Rare3, ANIHWA, FACCE Surplus (agriculture, food and environment), FLAG-ERA (Graphene and Human Brain Project), HERA (human sciences) and CHIST-ERA (ICT).

Evaluation rounds have started for networks ERA-MarineBiotech (marine biotechnology) and Rus Plus (research with Russia).

JPI

New Flemish teams with FWO support are also starting for the Joint Programming Initiatives:

- A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life (JPI HDHL about food and health)

  • Carl Lachat, UGent
  • Stefaan De Henauw, UGent
  • Sarah De Saeger, UGent

 

- Neurodegenerative Diseases and Alzheimer (JPND)

  • Bart De Strooper, KU Leuven

In contrast with ERA-NET, FWO funding for this joint calls is limited to top-ups for existing FWO projects that fit into the themes of the calls. Therefore, the above-mentioned researchers all supervise an ongoing FWO project.

Jean-Pierre Kruth receives major American award for 3D-printing research

Early November, Professor Jean-Pierre Kruth of the Production Engineering, Machine Design and Automation (PMA) Department of KU Leuven was awarded the 2015 Bower Science Award by The Franklin Institute. The Bower Award is one of America's most substantial scientific awards, with a long-standing tradition and an immense prestige. Prof. Kruth thus joins the select group of scientific celebrities like Edison, Einstein, Bohr and Curie.

Vacancy Flemish Assistant Director NVIC

The FWO is currently looking for an Assistant Director Arabic/Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies for the Nederlands-Vlaams instituut in Cairo (NVIC). Applications should be submitted to the FWO by 31 January at the latest.

» Further information can be found at our website.

Press

  • 4 november: Politique scientifique: vers un meurtre avec préméditation (Le Soir)
  • 6 december: Wij streven naar uitmuntendheid, net als in de States (De Standaard)
  • 23 november: Beursstatuut benadeelt vooral buitenlandse doctorandi (Veto)
  • 24 november: Onzekere koers voor christendemocratie (opinie) (De Standaard)
  • 15 december: Vier Belgische wetenschappelijke projecten bekroond met de AstraZEenca Foundation Awards (Belga)
  • 13 december: Waarom ik maandag niet mee staak: ik staak al het ganse jaar door (opinie) (demorgen.be)
  • 17 december : Belgische bijdrage aan CERN groter dan ooit (Engineeringnet.be)

Calender

New calls

Numbers and figures

Results Research Projects and Research Grants

In the 2014-2015 round of calls, 1502 applications for Research Grants and Research Projects were submitted, for a total budget of €160,450,272.
Taking into account the 16.25% allocation key for first and second order, a total amount of €24,936,071 could be made available for Research Grants and Research Projects.
The FWO approved a total of 77 Research Grants, representing a total budget of €1,978,970.
In addition, 260 new research projects for a total budget of €22,957,101 covering staff, bench fees and equipment, can be started up from 1 January 2015.

Thanks to a number of donations and legacies, the FWO can also each year award a number of extra credits  to researchers. For 2014,  thanks to the Fernand De Waele Donation (Civil engineering/Cancer) a credit of €6,200 was awarded to Hannelore Derluyn of the Universiteit Gent.

The Rimaux-Bartier credit (Incurable disease) in the amount of €12,400 was awarded to Evelien Smits affiliated to the Universiteit Antwerpen.

The credit Eugène Yourassowsky Donation (Microbiology and infectious diseases) in the amount of €15,000 went to Sarah_Maria Fendt affiliated to the KU Leuven.

As regards project funding, in addition to the regular projects, 4 projects were awarded within the scope of the 'Red Cross Flanders' campaign and 1 project within the scope of the 'Child Poverty' campaign.

The detailed list of awards is available at the FWO website.

Recently awardes scientific prizes

  • Scientific Prize McKinsey & Company 2014: Dr. Stijn Baert (UGent)
  • SCK•CEN Roger Van Geen Award 2014: Prof. Dr. Tony Lahoutte (VUB)
  • Oswald Vander Veken Award 2014: Prof. Patrick Schöffski (KU Leuven)
  • Scientific Prize IBM Belgium for Informatics 2014: Dr. Guy Van den Broeck (KU Leuven)
  • Scientific Prize Alcatel-Lucent Bell 2014: Dr. Tim Verbelen (UGent)
  • AstraZeneca Foundation Awards 2014
    • AstraZeneca Award 2014 in Neurosciences & Psychiatry: Laurent NGUYEN (ULg)
    • AstraZeneca Award 2014 in Auto-immune diseases and Rheumatology: Mohamed LAMKANFI (UGent)
    • AstraZeneca Award 2014 in Oncology: Hans WILDIERS (KU Leuven)
    • AstraZeneca Award 2014 in Cardiovascular diseases and metabolics: Aernout LUTTUN (KU Leuven)