Bilateral research cooperation China


The FWO is keen on promoting international collaboration as a driving force for excellence. That is why the FWO signs bilateral agreements with a number of countries for the funding of joint research projects. These projects go further than the traditional mobility projects, because staff and consumables can also be financed.

One of the selected countries is China. In November 2017, the FWO has signed an agreement with the ‘National Natural Science Foundation of China’ (NSFC) on the funding of new research projects. For the 2021 call the cooperation is limited to all fields of natural sciences, engineering sciences, management sciences and medical sciences in the following themes (linked to the ‘NSFC scientific departments’):

  • Mathematical & physical sciences
  • Chemical sciences
  • Life sciences
  • Earth sciences
  • Engineering & material sciences
  • Information sciences
  • Management sciences
  • Health sciences

For more information see guidelines call 2021.

In contrast to the regular research projects fundamental research no distinction is made between junior and senior research projects. In addition, it is not possible to use 10% of the budget requested at FWO for non-Flemish research institutions.


  • Joint research project with Chinese partners. It must be an integrated research proposal with one central research question, methodology and implementation.
  • Duration of the project: 3 years
  • FWO staff costs and consumables: minimally € 45,000 and maximally € 75,000 per year per project
  • FWO equipment: maximally € 150,000 per project
  • Call closed

Profile and conditions

  • The collaboration with partners from China will have an added value for the project.
  • Your research will be carried out at an eligible Flemish main host institution, possibly in collaboration with other Flemish and/or federal research institutions (Article 7) and under the supervision of a supervisor-spokesperson, possible in collaboration with other (co-)supervisors (Article 10 - 12).
  • In the framework of this call with NSFC, you can only act once as a principal investigator (supervisor) or co-investigator (co-supervisor).
  • No remuneration or accumulation of a remuneration is allowed for (co-)supervisors in connection with a research project.
  • Applications in the framework of this cooperation are not part of the regular project competition and:
    • do not count toward the calculation of the maximum number of projects per application round for which you may act as (co-)supervisor;
    • are not taken into account for the maximum of two projects applied for and ongoing on the start date of the newly allocated project;
    • You agree with the Research Integrity Clause.


  • Carefully read the guidelines for applicants.
  • Your joint application is submitted simultaneously at FWO (by using the online application form in the FWO e-portal) and at NSFC, according to their respective modalities.
  • Each supervisor and co-supervisor of both the Flemish and Chinese research team must have an online profile including an updated list of publications on the FWO E-portal.
  • FWO and NSFC perform an eligibility check to verify if your application meets all formal criteria of respectively FWO and NSFC.
  • FWO and NSFC will send out the proposal submitted at respectively FWO and NSFC out for international peer review according to the respective regulations for peer review.
  • An ad hoc joint interdisciplinary selection committee composed of Flemish and Chinese experts makes a final ranking.
  • The Board of Trustees of FWO and NSFC take the final decision.
  • Afterwards you will receive feedback on this decision.

Remark: In case of transfer of personal data within the framework of an international collaboration, FWO will ensure that the partners abroad guarantee an equal level of protection with respect to the involved parties.


Be aware: For any travel towards a higher-risk destination, the FWO (travel) grant can only be used in case of a positive advice of the concerned host institution. Please make sure to request this advice at the responsible advisory body of your host institution.

Documents and additional information for applicants


Specific supporting documents:

  • List research discipline codes:
    Since 2019 the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) has been using the new list of research discipline codes as compiled by ECOOM in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and which has been approved for use within Flanders. This list of discipline codes is a hierarchical and structured compilation of research topics by discipline in all scientific fields.