Newsletter January 2017


In this first editorial of 2017, I first of all would like to send out my best wishes for 2017 to all FWO researchers and stakeholders. A year full of fresh, innovative ideas and pioneering discoveries lies ahead of us and the full FWO team will continue to do everything it can to fully facilitate fundamental research and strategic basic research.

For the FWO, the new year is off to a good start with the appointment of a new Secretary General. At its meeting of 10 January 2017, the Board of Trustees decided to appoint Hans Willems as Secretary General of the FWO. Hans is a familiar face for the FWO, where over the past six years, he held the role of Director Research Policy and as such played a key role in the development and management of the various financing channels of the FWO. 


I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Danny Huysmans, who in 2016, together with Hans, acted as Secretary General, for his efforts in keeping the FWO ship on course through the various reforms and transitions. 


This also brings us to the key item on the 2017 agenda: the reform of the evaluation procedure for the fundamental channels. The FWO, together with the stakeholders, is currently redefining a number of core elements of this evaluation procedure.  The key points here are that the essence of the FWO, i.e. the funding of excellent research, should remain at the forefront and that the administrative burden associated with an evaluation procedure is kept to an absolute minimum. The aim is to enable the FWO to respond even better to the international trends in this area. 


Through this newsletter we will keep you up to date on the various steps taken in this regard and which from 2018 will lead to the roll-out of the new procedure.


Another important item is the call and evaluation under the new EoS programme. The first call under this programme, which aims to encourage cooperation between Flemish and Walloon research groups, is now open and proposals can be submitted to the FWO until April 4.  This programme and the evaluation procedure will at each stage be managed with our colleagues of the F.R.S.-FNRS, thereby further emphasising the cooperation between both communities also in this field.


I can also announce that new calls for medium- and large-scale infrastructure projects are planned for 2017 and that today nearly all calls under our fundamental channels and strategic basic research are open. In other words, all ingredients are in place to make also 2017 an extremely productive "research year".


I wish you every success in your efforts!


Willy Verstraete

President FWO

In the spotlight

Grey Cells

Two further editions of our Grey Cells sessions are scheduled for this spring. On Wednesday 1 March 2017 on the theme of Smart Textiles at the STUK in Leuven (this edition is part of the Artefact festival).  On Monday 27 March, a special edition featuring the winners of the Eos Pipet 2016 will take place at the Handelsbeurs. 

» Details can be found at our website

Excellence of Science programme

On 14 December 2016, the FWO, together with the F.R.S.-FNRS, launched a new research programme: EoS – The Excellence of Science. This revamped programme replaces the previous Interuniversity Attraction Poles (IAP) and aims to promote cooperation among research groups from the Flemish and French-speaking communities.  The programme is aimed at 4-year research projects in all disciplines. The funding is intended exclusively for fundamental research. The first EoS projects will launch on 1 January 2018.


Research groups of the universities in the Flemish and French-speaking communities, possibly in cooperation with regional, federal and foreign research groups, are invited to submit a project proposal before 4 April 2017 – 14:00. The project must be submitted through the online portal of F.R.S.-FNRS. The forms will soon be available.


Further information about the programme modalities is available at this website where both the EoS regulations and the guidelines for applicants can be consulted.

Michiel Dusselier wins Eos Pipet 2016

FWO postdoc and bioengineer Michiel Dusselier (KU Leuven) has won the Eos Pipet 2016. With the award, the science magazine "Eos" celebrates the scientific achievement of the year, performed by a young scientist. A jury of science journalists, chaired by Prof. Marleen Temmerman, praised Dusselier's inventive solution to produce biodegradable plastics in a more environmentally friendly and easier way. In addition to Michiel Dusselier, the professional jury designated the following laureates: plant geneticist Dieter Blancquaert (UGent), educationalist Els Consuegra (VUB), physical engineer Kurt Lejaeghere (UGent), and biomed Martijn Schuijs (VIB-UGent). They will present their research at the next edition of Grey Cells (27 March 2017, Handelsbeurs Ghent).

Results doctoral (PhD) grants strategic basic research

On 15 December 2016, the FWO awarded 200 doctoral (PhD) grants strategic basic research (SB).  The SB doctoral (PhD) grants programme is aimed at young researchers who want to develop into strategically thinking and innovation-oriented scientists. The doctoral (PhD) projects stand for challenging and innovative research offering the potential to generate, in the longer term, innovative applications (products, processes, services) with economic added value.


From the 2016 call, candidates of all nationalities can participate in the call. Of the 200 selected fellows, 170 come from Belgium, 24 from the EEA (European Economic Area) and 6 from the following countries:  Egypt, India, Iran, Ukraine, Palestine and Peru. The best represented countries are Italy (8), the Netherlands (4), Spain (3) and Greece (3).


In percentage terms, there were significantly more female candidates this year (47%) than in 2015 (45%). This percentage remains unchanged for the number of selected candidates.


New call for (medium-) large-scale research infrastructure

A new call for (medium-) large-scale research infrastructure will be opened in March 2017.  Medium-scale research infrastructure is defined as research infrastructure with a total financing cost of minimum 150,000 euros and maximum 1,000,000 euros, whereas large-scale research infrastructure covers investment initiatives with a total financing cost of minimum 1,000,000 euros.


Medium-scale infrastructure is evaluated within each association, whereas applications for large-scale infrastructure are submitted directly to the FWO. Due to the different procedures, individual regulations have been established for both categories.  


To increase the success rate, a new combined call will be organised, combining the resources of the two budget years 2017 and 2018. More info soon.

VSC – Flemish Supercomputer Centre

On October 17, the second Flemish Supercomputer was officially inaugurated at the KU Leuven. BrENIAC can execute 600 billion operations per second and will be used by Flemish researchers and companies to perform the most complex computations and simulations. During the past four years, UGent had the most powerful computer.  Researchers can gain access to this supervisor by submitting applications. The three submission deadlines are February 6, June 5 and October 2, 2017. More info at

International news

Joint Research projects with Slovenia (ARRS), Luxembourg (FNR), Austria (FWF), the Netherlands (NWO) and Switzerland (SNSF)

The FWO wants to optimally promote international collaboration, as a lever for excellence. That is why the FWO signs Lead Agency Procedure agreements with a number of countries. The ‘Lead Agency’ is responsible for the complete evaluation procedure and the partner accepts the substantiated conclusion. In 2016 there were Lead Agency Procedure calls with Slovenia (ARRS), Luxembourg (FNR), Austria (FWF) and the Netherlands (NWO). The results can be viewed here.


Also in 2017 it is possible to submit a joint research project with Slovenia (ARRS), Luxembourg (FNR) and Austria (FWF). New this year is the call with Switzerland (SNSF). Please note: there is no call with the Netherlands (NWO) in 2017. 


More information about the modalities of these calls is available at this website. The submission deadline is 3 April 2017.


Results of Bilateral Research projects with South Africa (NRF)

A call for bilateral research projects with South Africa was launched in the spring of 2016. The call was open to all disciplines. The evaluation took place in Brussels on 14 & 15 November 2016 and was performed by a joint expert panel made up of Flemish and South African experts. The results can be viewed here.

Call Bilateral Research projects with Vietnam (NAFOSTED) and Quebec (FRQ)

The ongoing research projects with Vietnam (NAFOSTED) and Quebec (FRQ) will expire in 2017. A new call for bilateral research projects with Vietnam (NAFOSTED) and Quebec (FRQ) will therefore be launched in the course of 2017. More information about the modalities and timing will soon be available at our website.

Across the boarders

European Research Area Networks (ERA-NET)

As part of ERA-NET, the European programme that stimulates cooperation between funding organisations and researchers on research calls with specific themes, a final decision was made in recent months on the allocation and financing of projects with Flemish participation.


ERA-CVD cofund 2016

  • ‘MacroERA’ - Stephane Heymans, KU Leuven, € 200,000
  • ‘LYMIT-DIS’ - Elisabeth Jones, KU Leuven, € 199,658



  • ‘Novofeed’ – Lennart Martens, Universiteit Gent, € 198,000
  • ‘BlueShell’ – Kathleen Raes, Universiteit Gent, € 84,000 & Johan Robbens, ILVO, € 116,000



  • ‘NanoVax’ – Bruno De Geest, Universiteit Gent, € 200,000


Infect-ERA JTC 2016

  • ‘ToRRENT’ - Johan Neyts, KU Leuven, € 200,000
  • ‘InnateFun’ - Patrick Van Dijck, KU Leuven, € 200,000
  • ‘BacVirISG15’ - Kris Gevaert, Universiteit Gent, € 162,000


JPI-EC-AMR cofund 2016

  • ‘TransPred’ - Jan Michiels, KU Leuven, € 200,000
  • ‘STARCS’ - Surbhi Malhotra-Kumar, Universiteit Antwerpen, € 200,000



  • ‘REFORCE’ – Ben Somers, KU Leuven, € 200,000


Transcan-2 JTC 2015

  • ‘IMMUSPHINX’ – Jean-Christophe Marin, KU Leuven, € 180,000
  • ‘EPICA’ – Karine Breckpot, VUB, € 151,200
  • ‘HEPAMUT’– Frederic Amant, KU Leuven, € 68,000
» For details on the upcoming calls see the FWO website

Evaluation results FWO Runner-up projects

On September 8, 2016, the ERC Executive Agency (ERCEA) published the results of the 2016 call for European Research Council Starting Grants. The 325 laureates include 12 researchers from Flemish research institutes.


For each ERC Starting Grants call, the FWO supports up to five candidates from Flemish institutions who made it to the end of step 2 of the evaluation process and who obtained an A-score at the end of step 2, but who did not receive financing from the ERC because of budgetary constraints.


For the 2016 call, three candidates were selected for a runner-up project:

  • Pieter De Frenne (University of Ghent)
  • Edwin Reynders (KU Leuven)
  • Eveline Volcke (University of Ghent)

Science Europe

Science Europe, the association of 47 European RFOs and RPOs, has in recent months published new documents that may prove interesting and useful to the scientific community and policymakers. They are:

Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI)

Under the ‘Joint Programming Initiatives’ (JPI), which seek to coordinate research programmes of different countries within and outside Europe, the following project with Flemish participation was allocated in October 2016:


JPI AMR working groups call 2016

  • Isabelle Huys, KU Leuven, € 30,000
» For details on upcoming JPI calls see the FWO website