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 Meise Botanic Garden and INBO (Research Institute for Nature and Forest),and (every two years, next time 2021) L'Oreal-Unesco.


  • Period: 2 years, renewable once
  • Net monthly scholarship amount:  minimum € 2.015,51
  • Fixed bench fee:  € 3.720 per year
  • Call closed
  • Announcement of selection results: 8 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.
  • On 1 March 2020  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

Submission and selection procedure

  • In a nutshell:
    • You find a promotor affiliated to a Flemish university
    • You submit your application online (FWO e-portal).
    • The promotor is invited by the FWO to write a letter of recommendation.
    • Your application is submitted to the FWO expert panel chosen by you.
    • June 8, 2020, 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 1 September and 2 October 2020.
    • The expert panels report to the Board of Trustees
    • The Board of Trustees decides on the appointment on 8 October 2020.
    • You receive feedback on the decision and the findings of the expert panel.

Covid-19 update

The 2-step procedure is maintained. Preselection meetings are taking place as planned, with a few days of delay for PhD fellowships fundamental research. Candidates will be informed on their preselection results on 8 June 2020 (SB) and 2 July 2020 (fundamental research) respectively.

The interviews, planned between 1 September and 1 October 2020 will be organized as online meetings. The online interview consists of an interactive discussion with the expert panel and is preceded by a 1 minute pitch. More concrete details and guidelines, as well as panel dates will follow shortly.

The date on which the PhD fellowships will be awarded remains unchanged: 8 October 2020.


  • 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

  • Expert panels: make the proper choice
    • 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
    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.

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: