Frank De Winne PhD fellowships

Objective

The 'Frank De Winne PhD fellowships’ are PhD grants strategic basic research under the impulse programme "Flemish Space Economy". This impulse programme focuses on talent, competitiveness, international cooperation, and promoting interest in space among the population. The Talent section of the impulse programme "Flemish Space Economy" covers not only "Frank De Winne PhD fellowships" at FWO but also calls for "Frank De Winne postdocs" at VLAIO.

The FWO’s "Frank De Winne PhD fellowships" offer burgeoning research talents the opportunity to complete their PhD with research into applications in the space industry. It enables young researchers to take space research in Flanders to the next level while at the same time establishing and developing a sustainable career in the Flemish space economy.

Calls, evaluation and selection

A total of 3 calls for respectively 5, 6 and 5 "Frank De Winne PhD fellowships" have been planned. The first call will open mid-June 2021 with submission deadline in mid-September 2021. The selection procedure is set to be completed by early December 2021. Selected fellows will start on 1 January 2022.

The second and third calls will be integrated into the regular calls for SB PhD fellowships, but with a fixed number of fellowships to be awarded (6 and 5) respectively. A second call will be held in early December 2021 with submission deadline 1 March 2022 and fellowships starting on 1 November 2022.

The application/evaluation/selection procedures are those of the fellowship SB programme, and can be found on the SB fellowship webpage.

The Frank De Winne PhD fellowships will focus specifically on:

  • The bridging function between university and companies: maximum use of the facilities provided for in the SB Fellowship regulations (intersectoral mobility, Art 4§2 fellowship regulations), to conduct part of the research in another company (active in the space sector);
  • The training component with additional focus on entrepreneurship and innovation (development of transferable skills, Art 18§2 fellowship regulations), specifically in the space sector, e.g. through internships at a company or another type of organisation;
  • The strategic nature of the PhD project, with valorisation potential for (Flemish) companies operating in the space sector.

For the "Frank De Winne PhD fellowships" a specific expert panel will be set up, including experts in space research and applications. Just as with the other PhD SB panels, at least half of the members must be affiliated with a non-Flemish institution, at least one-third must be directly involved in industrial R&D, and not more than two-thirds of the members must be of the same gender (Art 3 peer review regulations).

Further details on the first call will be posted on this page around 15 June 2021.

Space economy and Flanders

Space economy encompasses all aspects of the space value chain. These are the so-called upstream activities that are needed to launch crafts into space, such as the development and construction of satellites, launching infrastructure and vehicles, space stations, scientific instruments, etc. The downstream activities are focused on operating the upstream infrastructure and keeping it operational, and the development, construction and marketing of products and services using space technology and data.

Space economy is therefore a broader concept than the actual space industry.

Examples are satellite data or Earth observation data that report changes to the Earth’s surface or are used for positioning, telecommunication or meteorology. Space data thus represent an added value to many sectors ranging from agriculture to defence. Finally, the space economy serves to address great challenges such as climate change, mobility or new security threats.

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Frank De Winne

Frank De Winne has, since January 2000, been part of the astronaut corps of ESA, the European Space Agency, where he is currently head of the European Astronaut Centre, the ESA’s astronaut training centre in Cologne. "I am pleased with the investment in young talent and the initiative to further develop space research in Flanders," says Frank De Winne, who has already been twice in space onboard the ISS space station. "Space is increasingly becoming part of our daily lives. It is a fast-growing sector with high added value. Europe cannot afford to lag behind the rest of the world in terms of investments. That is why it is absolutely essential for Flanders to commit itself and encourage and support a career in space." (Press release Minister Crevits 23 April 2021)