Newsletter April 2016

electronic letter


On March 23rd, I officially took office as president of the FWO. As a former researcher I always experienced the FWO as a special support. As winner of an FWO Excellence Prize, I was able to experience the high international appearance the FWO has. I truly hope that FWO will keep having a great influence on a large scale of researchers in Flanders.


The FWO has always adopted a future-oriented approach and invested in pioneering, groundbreaking research, conducted by promising  and excellent researchers. This is the path the FWO will continue to follow in the coming years. Also in the future, the FWO will be the guarantee for bottom-up research, based on the ideas and at the initiative of researchers themselves.

Since 1 January 2016 a number of new pillars have also been added to the FWO. The Strategic Basic Research (SBO) and Applied Biomedical Research (TBM) programmes, along with the research infrastructure and supercomputer programmes, were transferred to the FWO.


This transfer went smoothly and resulted in the publication of new calls for SBO and TBM already in mid-January. In addition, the further evaluation of the ongoing Hercules calls on the subject of medium-scale and large-scale research infrastructure was completed successfully. 

The FWO is also greatly concerned with the careers of its researchers. The European Commission awarded the FWO with the "HR excellence in research" label already at the end of 2010, thereby recognising the efforts by the FWO to maximise career opportunities for researchers. This issue will continue to receive a great deal of attention from me, as president, and the FWO team. Not only for researchers who wish to pursue an academic career, but especially for those who want to branch out into the industry.

Another area where the FWO has made major strides in recent years, and one of my priorities as president, are all the issues associated with science communication.  In fact, researchers write not only for their peers and fellow researchers. The general public, too, is entitled to information on the research carried out, which is often financed with public funds. Or in other words, The joy a researcher experiences in finding a new discovery must be given to the  broader public. This reinforces in every way.

A fine example is FWO's participation in the biennial Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF). This year, too, the FWO, together with a group of 15 young researchers, will be present at the ESOF in Manchester, from 23 to 27 July.  

Together with the Academy for Sciences, the Jonge Academie and VLIR-UOS, the FWO will organise an event on science communication in the second part of the year. More details will be provided in the next issue of this newsletter.


Willy Verstraete
President FWO

In the spotlight

New board of trustees

On Friday 4 March, the Flemish Government appointed the first members of the new board of trustees of the FWO.  The 8 new members are representatives of the scientific community: Conny Aerts (KU Leuven), Rik Torfs (KU Leuven), Anne De Paepe (UGent), Willy Verstraete (UGent), Alain Verschoren (UAntwerpen), Paul De Knop (VUB), Luc De Schepper (UHasselt) and Jo Bury (VIB as representative of the strategic research centres).

Together with 4 independent members with links to the industry, they will lay the roadmap for the new FWO. They will be appointed by the government from a shortlist of 8 candidates.

» View the complete composition of the board of trustees

New appointments Odysseus researchers

With the Odysseus programme, the FWO seeks to attract excellent researchers, all active abroad, to Flanders. For some it serves as a 'homecoming' opportunity, for others it offers a solid research framework.  End March the names of 25 researchers were announced who will for the coming 5 years receive Odysseus grants, totalling € 47.5 million.  

» Click here for the complete list of laureates

Amendments to the regulations

The regulations for PhD fellowship, special PhD fellowship and ICM-FWO fellowship have been amended in terms of nationality requirements.  Any references to the nationality of the candidate have been deleted. The degree-related requirement, by contrast, is retained: the applicant must hold a master degree, with the exclusion of master-after-master degrees, awarded by a member country of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland.  For degrees not awarded by a Flemish university, the candidate is also required to submit proof that the university board authorises him/her to prepare a PhD thesis.

Hercules Foundation programmes

Since January, a number of programmes have been transferred from  the former Hercules Foundation to, and integrated within, the FWO.


1. Medium-scale and large-scale research infrastructure:

  • Medium-scale research infrastructure is defined as research infrastructure with a total financing cost from €150,000 to €1,000,000 
  • Large-scale research infrastructure is defined as research infrastructure with a total financing cost from €1,000,000 onwards

In the meantime, the 5th call for medium-scale and large-scale research infrastructures has expired, and subsidies have been awarded to a first series of projects. The invitation for the 5th call was still sent out by the Hercules Foundation, but the handling of the calls, as well as the confirmation of the awarded projects - 94 requested vs. 36 awarded for medium-scale, and (for the time being) 1 awarded (16 requested) for large-scale research infrastructure, were already handled within the FWO.


 2. VSC

The Flemish Supercomputer Centre (VSC) is a virtual centre that provides supercomputing infrastructure to both academics and the industry. It is run by the FWO, in collaboration with the five Flemish university associations. In 2012, the first Flemish supercomputer was put into service at the UGent. A new TIER 1 will become operational at KU Leuven around the middle of this year.  Each year there are three deadlines for the submission of applications for computing time. The next one is planned for 6 June 2016.


International news

ERC runner-up projects

In 2016, as in previous years, the FWO awarded a runner-up project to applicants for an ERC Starting Grant under the 2015 call, who saw their applications rejected due to budget constraints.  The three applicants who will receive an FWO runner-up fellowship starting May 1, 2016, are:                       

  • Dr. Andrew Tkachenko, associated with the Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven.
  • Dr. Dagmar D’Hooge, associated with the Laboratory for Chemical Technology, Department of Chemical Engineering, Ghent University.
  • Dr. Mike Sleutel, associated with the Structural Biology Brussels research group of the Bio-Engineering Sciences Department, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Once every year, tens of Nobel Laureates convene at Lindau to meet the next generation of leading scientists. Since 1951, the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have fostered the exchange among top scientists of different generations, cultures and disciplines.

For the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, from 26 June to 1 July 2016, Nobel Laureates in Physics have been invited.

402 young scientists (undergraduates, PhD students and post-doc researchers aged less than 35 years) from 80 countries will be participating this year.

As a partner of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, the FWO was given the opportunity to nominate 4 young researchers for Flanders. From these nominations, Lindau then selected the candidates that may attend the meeting.  From the FWO nominees, Karel Proesmans, PhD grant holder from UHasselt in Physics (Stochastic Thermodynamics), was elected.

Click here for details

01 May 2016: second and final deadline [PEGASUS]², giving wings to your career

Within the [PEGASUS]² mobility programme for postdoctoral researchers, it was agreed with the European Commission that the FWO would launch two calls. A first with deadline on 1 February 2016 and a second with deadline on 1 May 2016.


Applicants therefore have until 1 May 2016, 5:00 PM CET to submit their final application via the FWO e-portal for a [PEGASUS]² fellowship with start date between 1 January 2017 and 31 May 2017.

» Details about the [PEGASUS]² fellowship types, conditions, requirements, regulations, etc. can be found here.

Science Europe

Science Europe, the umbrella organisation of 47 research funding and performing organisations, has released the following new documents in recent months:

The administrative structure of the Science Europe has been redesigned, for the composition see:


The Scientific Advisory Committee, which will provide scientific advice across all disciplines, replaces the six individual scientific committees. Prof. Dirk Inzé from UGent will represent Flanders on this committee. See

Results ERC Consolidator Grants 2015

In February, the European Research Council announced the laureates for the 2015 call for ERC Consolidator Grant. The 302 laureates include 6 researchers from Flemish research institutes:

  • Niel Hens (Universiteit Hasselt)
  • Jo Van Steenbergen (Universiteit Gent)
  • Mohamed Lamkanfi (Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie)
  • Adrian Liston (Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie)
  • Daniel Van Damme (Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie)
  • Kevin Verstrepen (Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie)

Across the boarders

NCP info sessions

SSH info session – 19 January 2016

On January 19, at the Palace of the Academies, the NCPs of the FWO and the former Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT) and other Belgian NCP's organised an information session on the SSH possibilities within the Societal Challenges in Horizon2020.  Tobias Bade Strom and Bogdan-Iustin Birnbaum, on behalf of the European Commissions' DG RTD, provided details on SSH flagged topics in H2020. Dr. Nicole Dewandre of DG CONNECT dwelled on the RRI-SSH approach in ICT-related areas. Testimonials were provided by Prof. Lieve Van den Block of the VUB and Véronique Waterschoot of CINEMATEK. Prof. Anja Declercq of KU Leuven rounded out the info session with a presentation on her experiences as an SSH evaluator.


Societal Challenge 6 Workshop - 28 January 2016

On January 28, at the Flemish interface for cultural heritage FARO, the NCPs of the FWO, in collaboration with the Flemish Department of Culture, Youth, Sport and Media, organised a workshop on the CULT-COOP topics from Societal Challenge 6 (SC6). The aim of this workshop was to introduce the Flemish cultural sector to European funding through Horizon2020 and more specifically the CULT-COOP section of SC6. The workshop also provided the Flemish cultural sector and the academic sector with the opportunity to exchange experiences on European research projects.  The workshop was presented by Dr. Catherine Halbert (Halbert Research) and supplemented with testimonials from Dr. Mieke Bleyen (KU Leuven) and Prof. Fred Truyen (KU Leuven).


As part of ERA-NET, the European programme that stimulates cooperation between funding organisations and researchers on research calls with specific themes, the following calls were launched during the past months, with FWO participation:

In January 2016

  • ERA-NET ERA-CVD cofund (Cardiovascular diseases)
  • ERA-NET Infect-ERA JTC 2016 (Infectious diseases)
  • ERA-NET JPI-EC-AMR cofund (Antimicrobial resistance)
  • ERA-NET DIAL JTC 2016 (Dynamics of inequalities across the life-course)
  • ERA-NET NEURON cofund (Disease-related neuroscience)

In March 2016

  • ERA-NET SUMFOREST JTC 2016 (Sustainable forest management)
  • ERA-NET C-IPM JTC 2016 (Integrated pest management)

Within M.ERA-NET JTC 2015, a final decision has been made regarding the allocation and funding of projects with Flemish participation.

  • COIN DESC – Frank Renner, Universiteit Hasselt – € 199,000

Following the integration of IWT funds into the FWO operation, the following 2 M.-ERA projects, with Flemish participation under the SBO economic programme, were taken over by the FWO for administrative support:

  • PROMISES – Tom Aernouts, IMEC - € 234,090; Guido Huyberechts, FLAMAC - € 163,415; Dirk Vanderzande, Hasselt University - € 100,000
  • CALDERA - Christophe Detavernier, Universiteit Gent - € 500,000
» More information on each call



New calls

  • Lead Agency procedure with Austria (FWF): call open until 2 May 2016 (5:00 pm)
  • Cooperation projects with China (NSFC): call open until 6 May 2016 (5:00 pm)
  • Joint research projects with South Africa (NRF): new call to be launched in the course of April 2016, open until 30 June 2016 (5:00 pm)
  • Cooperation projects with South Korea (NRF): new call to be launched on 2 May 2016, open until 15 June 2016 (5:00 pm)