Bilateral research cooperation South Africa


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 exchange projects, because personnel and consumables can also be financed.

One of the selected countries is South Africa. In December 2018 the FWO renewed the MoU with the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) on the funding of new research projects in fundamental research in all scientific domains.

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 universities.


  • Joint research project with South African partner(s). It must be an integrated research proposal with one central problem, methodology and elaboration.
  • Fundamental research in all scientific domains
  • Duration of the project: 3 years
  • Personnel costs and consumables applied for at FWO: minimally € 45,000 and maximally € 75,000 per year per project
  • Additional equipment/matching funding applied for at FWO: maximally € 150,000 per project
  • Next FWO-NRF call will be launched in 2023 at the earliest

Profile and conditions


  • Read the guidelines for applicant carefully (see underneath ‘Downloads).
  • Your joint application is submitted simultaneously at FWO (by using the online application form in the FWO E-portal) and at NRF, according to their respective modalities.
  • Each supervisor and co-supervisor of both the Flemish and South African research team must have an online profile including an updated list of publications on the FWO E-portal.
  • The applications are assessed for eligibility: the FWO and NRF check whether the application meets the formal requirements of the respective agency.
  • You propose 10 external referees in your application (for more info on the eligibility of referees see online application form and guide for applicants). Please be aware that the proposed international referees cannot be appointed to a Belgian university, research institute or other organization. Moreover, the proposed international referees cannot be appointed to similar institutions and organizations in South Africa. Please note that there also cannot be a Conflict of Interest (CoI) with the South African partner(s).
  • Your application is presented to a number of these referees for evaluation.
  • An ad hoc joint interdisciplinary panel consisting of Flemish and South African experts evaluates all applications.
  • The FWO and NRF ratify the funding decision.
  • Afterwards you will receive feedback on this decision.

Regulations and downloads