Regulations for the Odysseus Programme 2020
The General Regulations apply.
Detailed information, full regulations and forms are available online.
Any additional information can be obtained from the secretariat of the Research Foundation - Flanders, Egmontstraat 5, 1000 BRUSSELS, tel 02 512 91 10.
The Flemish Government launches the Odysseus programme through the FWO.
The Odysseus programme is intended to offer start-up funding for a period of five years to outstanding researchers who have built up a career outside Flanders, in order to develop a research group or to set up a research line within a Flemish university, possibly in collaboration with another or other Flemish research organisation(s), and become progressively embedded in the Flemish research establishment.
The Odysseus subsidy is used for two types of start-up funding:
Odysseus Type I: Internationally leading researchers
Researchers who are internationally recognised as pioneers in their field and who already have a permanent academic position of at least 80% at a foreign research institute, can apply for an Odysseus Type I position. These researchers are expected to already lead their own research group made up of permanent staff, several post-docs and a number of PhD students, within the institute to which they are affiliated. The support for this set-up ranges from €400,000 to €1,000,000 per year (€2,000,000 to €5,000,000 for the 5-year period).
Odysseus Type II: Researchers with the potential to develop a leading international status
Researchers who have at least 3 years’ post-doctoral experience abroad and whose work has convinced leading colleagues in the field that they have potential to develop a leading international position can apply for an Odysseus Type II position. These researchers are expected to be leading a small team within a research group, made up of one or more PhD students and possibly one or more post-docs. They have some experience applying for external research funding. Within a few years they will be able to mature to the level required for a position as part of the independent academic staff. The support for this set-up ranges from €100,000 to €200,000 per year (€500,000 to €1,000,000 for the 5-year period).
Only universities in the Flemish Community can nominate candidates to the FWO, either independently or in collaboration with another or other Flemish research organisation(s).
Both Type I and Type II candidates:
- shall not have (had) a main appointment at a Belgian university, research institute, organisation or company for more than one year preceding the FWO submission date. THIS RULE ONLY APPLIES TO THE NEXT ODYSSEUS CALL. AS OF 1 JANUARY 2022, IT WILL BE CHANGED AS FOLLOWS: shall have a main appointment (minimum appointment of 80%) at a foreign institution on the date of the application (FWO deadline);
- must have been affiliated to a foreign institution, with a minimum appointment of 80%, for at least three years in the last five years preceding the FWO submission date (deadline). During this period abroad, the candidate may have been appointed in Belgium for maximum 10%.
- must meet the criteria of excellence, as demonstrated in the CV and bibliography,
- submit a research plan to the university or universities concerned, including a budget with an indicative distribution of the planned expenditure over a 5-year period. This research plan must be approved by the university or universities and be consistent with the research policy.
- May submit only one application in each call for proposals.
Upon nominating a candidate the university must:
- commit itself to providing a ZAP-appointment (Type I) or a full-time tenure track fellowship (Type II) with a duration of five years, as well as the necessary infrastructure. These available positions must be supported by a binding declaration of commitment from both the university (rector) and the relevant department (head of department) where the nominated candidate is to be appointed upon award of the Odysseus project. Applications submitted to the FWO without these binding declarations of commitment will be declared ineligible.
- strive for a gender balance whereby maximally two-thirds of the nominated candidates are of the same gender.
- approve the research plan and indicate how it fits in with the university's research policy.
The complete nomination file must be submitted in English.
The FWO Board of Trustees sets up an ad hoc international multidisciplinary jury of experts who will evaluate the nominated candidates and their research proposals according to the criterion of excellence. The jury consists of at least 7 members, with maximally two-thirds of the members being of the same gender. The jury members are not affiliated to a Belgian university and are eminent scientists.
For the evaluation, all eligible nominated candidates will be invited to present their Odysseus project to the international jury in an oral presentation, after which they will be interviewed by the jury members. For its evaluation, the jury draws on scientific advice from, in principle, 4 international external referees having the specific expertise required for the proposed research.
However, if there are more than 25 eligible nominated candidates of a specific Type of Odysseus project (I or II), the FWO reserves the right to conduct a pre-selection. In that case, the international jury shall, based on the scientific advice from, in principle, 4 international external referees having the specific expertise for the proposed research, decide which eligible nominated candidates will be invited to present their Odysseus project in an oral presentation, after which they will be interviewed by the jury members.
Based on the interviews with the nominated candidates and taking into account the advice from the external referees, the jury evaluates to what extent the nominated candidates meet the specified excellence requirements, to what extent the research project is of high quality and to what extent it can be implemented with the funds applied for. On this basis, the jury determines a ranking of Odysseus projects qualifying for funding.
The jury can also propose budgetary changes to the funding.
The highest ranked Odysseus projects within the available Odysseus budget are nominated for funding. The final decision on the funding is made by the FWO Board of Trustees.
The FWO publishes the scientific summary of the selected researchers on its website.
The awarded grants are specified in detail in an agreement. The parties to the agreement are:
- the appointed Odysseus researcher, hereinafter called the supervisor;
- the FWO;
- the university-host institution,
- where appropriate, the other Flemish research organisation(s) as partner.
A co-supervisor is designated for the facilitating function within the host institution.
- The supervisor undertakes to implement the subsidized research.
- The supervisor acts as responsible spokesperson for the administration of the FWO and manages the funds.
- The supervisor or co-supervisor cannot receive a salary or compensation under the relevant agreement.
- The FWO undertakes to pay out the subsidy stipulated in the agreement throughout the duration of the research.
- For the appointment of Type I researchers, the host institution undertakes to provide, during the first year of this Odysseus project, a ZAP appointment with at least a 50% appointment, and from the second year, a ZAP appointment of at least 80%, as well as the necessary infrastructure and space.
- For the appointment of Type II researchers, the host institution undertakes to provide, throughout the entire 5-year duration of the Odysseus project, a full-time tenure track research fellowship, as well as the necessary infrastructure and space. At the explicit request of the researcher, a part-time position with a minimum of 80%, may be permitted.
- In case of a nomination by two or more universities, whether or not in collaboration with another or other Flemish research organisation(s), they should formulate a common proposal.
The agreements have a duration of 5 years. All funds stipulated in the contract are intended for funding the approved research of the supervisor's Odysseus project.
The agreement can be terminated by the parties. The supervisor shall use the awarded funds exclusively for the execution of the approved research project. The costs of the appointment of the supervisor to be covered by the universities cannot be declared on the Odysseus programme. As soon as the host institution(s) do no longer meets this requirement, the allowances or their balances shall return to the FWO. In that case, or if the agreement is terminated by one of the parties, the agreement shall cease to exist. The legal obligations with respect to the remaining staff shall be complied with. The funding required for this shall be charged to the Odysseus grant. The remaining balance shall be written off degressively at a rate of 25% per year.
Any substantial change to the ongoing Odysseus research project shall be submitted to the FWO.
Recruitment of scientific and technical staff is governed by the provisions for the recruitment and appointment of researchers of the FWO regulations for research projects fundamental research.
Equipment is governed by the provisions of Article 32 of the FWO regulations for research projects fundamental research.
Consumables are governed by the provisions of Article 27 of the FWO regulations for research projects fundamental research.
Overhead costs can be paid to the host institutions in accordance with the provisions of Article 34 of the FWO regulations for research projects fundamental research.
Accountability documents are accepted if they are dated during the term of the project and the following three years. Any unused funds shall be returned to the FWO.
- Intermediate and ex-post evaluation of the supervisor is carried out by the university-host institution. For Type I this must be done after the fourth year and for Type II during the fourth year, at which time the host institution will decide on the further career. The modified research plan shall be communicated to the FWO. The FWO receives a report of this evaluation in which the supervisor’s scientific achievements, the output originating from his/her fellowship, as well as his/her perspectives for the future are clearly described.
- The intermediate and ex-post scientific evaluation of the Odysseus research project is the responsibility of the FWO as set out in Article 9 of the general regulations.
Chapters 9 up to and including 11 of the FWO regulations for research projects fundamental research apply to payments, reports, audits and financial provisions.
For any cases not provided for in these regulations, reference shall be made to the regulations and case law of the Research Foundation - Flanders.