PhD fellowship strategic basic research


A PhD Fellowship strategic basic research (SB) allows young researchers to prepare a PhD, and to develop into strategically thinking and innovation-oriented scientists.

Strategic basic research in the context of a PhD grant stands for challenging and innovative research (at PhD level), which, if successful, may in the longer term lead to innovative applications with economic added value (for specific companies, for a collective of companies, or a sector, or in line with the Flanders 2025 transition areas

For the funding of a limited number of fellowships, the FWO collaborates with VITO.


  • Period: 2 years, renewable once
  • Net monthly scholarship amount:  minimum € 2.015,51
  • Fixed bench fee:  € 3.720 per year
  • New Call opens on 9 December 2019
    • Save the date, infosessions new call
      • KU Leuven: 12 December 2019
      • UAntwerpen: 10 December 2019
      • UGent: 11 December 2019
      • UHasselt: 16 December 2019
      • VUB: 12 December 2019
    • Deadline: 2 March 2020
    • Following information will be updated to version 2020 when new call opens
  • Announcement of selection results: October 2020
  • Start fellowship: 1 November 2020

Profile and conditions

  • You are affiliated to a university in the Flemish Community
  • At the start of the fellowship, candidates must be holder of a diploma at least equivalent to a master's degree following a bachelor's degree and awarded by the competent institutions in one of the countries of the European Economic Area or Switzerland. No attestation is required for non-Belgian diplomas.
  • The master degree or equivalent diploma must have been obtained not earlier than 3 years before the closing date of the call.
  • You can apply maximum two times for the same fellowship.
  • MIND: CHANGE REGULATIONS: On 1 March 2019 (submission deadline) you have 18 months scientific seniority at most
  • You have not previously received an FWO fellowship (not even in part).
  • You agree with the Research Integrity Clause
  • Applied earlier for an FWO PhD fellowship? Look at the Transitional measures on eligibility conditions.
    • You can apply if you obtained your Master diploma not earlier than 5 years before 1 March 2019.

Submission and selection procedure

  • In a nutshell:
    • You find a supervisor affiliated to a Flemish university
    • You submit your application online (FWO e-portal).
    • The supervisor is invited by the FWO to write a letter of recommendation.
    • Your application is submitted to the FWO expert panel chosen by you.
    • In the beginning of July, after the preselection, you can be invited for a second round with interview
    • If you are selected for the second round, you'll be interviewed by the panel between 2 September and 4 October.
    • The expert panels report to the Board of Trustees
    • The Board of Trustees decides on the appointment (10 October 2019).
    • You receive feedback on the decision and the findings of the expert panel.

Information sessions call 2019

The FWO presents the new call for PhD fellowships (fundamental research and strategic basic research) to the 5 Flemish universities

The presentation is found here.

Agenda (for more details, see the university

KU Leuven: 18 December 2018

UAntwerpen: 18 December 2018

UGent: 19 December 2018

UHasselt: 10 Januari 2019

VUB: 20 December 2018


  • Regulations internal and external peer review
    These regulations describe how the expert panels should be composed, the conduct code, as well as the scoring and selection approach. The composition of the new panels for the fellowships fundamental research will be announced early 2019.

Documents and additional information for applicants


  • See for requesting additional info and for specific questions
  • For technical (IT) problems regarding e-portal and application modules send an email to the IT helpdesk:

General information

    • To understand the evaluation and selection process
    • To prepare an application that meets the evaluation criteria

Support with preparing the application

  • You can choose the SB expert panel that best fits your proposal, in terms of research methodology (rather than the application field). Check carefully the SB panel scopes in order to make the most adequate choice.
  • In case you have doubts on what panel may fit best, you can contact the FWO ( before submitting your application, with a -motivated- first and a secondary panel choice. The FWO will  then advise you on the most appropriate choice to submit in your application
  • If during the evaluation of your proposal there is a panel consensus that the application is out of scope it can be rejected for that reason. It is important to stress that the responsibility for the match between application and panel is the applicant’s
  • Percentiles (study results)
    How to position your study results within your study group? This is an element of the evaluation by the expert panel. Learn how to find ‘your’ percentile here.
  • List research discipline codes
    Starting with the current call for the 2019 fellowships the FWO is using a new list of research discipline codes. This is a hierarchical and structured compilation of research topics by discipline in all scientific fields. All applicants that have already an e-portal account should update their research discipline codes according to the new list.

Evaluation Supporting documents

  •  Scoring grids
    The scoring grid (scoring descriptors) will used by the expert panels as a reference framework for the evaluation during the preselection resp. interview sessions.

Working as a FWO PhD fellow?

Doctoral (PhD) grant strategic basic research (SB)

There will be no new call for this type of fellowship. It is replaced by PhD fellowship strategic basic research. You can find the information and regulations for this funding channel here:

ICM-FWO Fellowship

There will be no new call for the ICM-FWO Fellowship. You can apply in the funding channel 'PhD fellowship fundamental research and PhD fellowship strategic basic research'. You can find the information and regulations for this funding channel here: