Newsletter June 2017

electronic letter


The last Wednesday of the month of June has long been an eagerly anticipated date on the calendar for the Flemish research community, because on this day the personal fellowships allocated to a new generation of FWO researchers are traditionally announced. Year after year, the FWO website then becomes one of the most visited websites in Flanders. But then, there is a lot at stake. For FWO fellows, the allocation of a FWO grant provides them with the opportunity to take their first steps in the wondrous world of scientific research.  The project plan that is often the result of many months of hard work can finally be implemented and will hopefully result in a PhD degree being obtained four years later.  Statistics show that FWO fellows in Flanders have the highest success rate in effectively obtaining this degree.


For postdoctoral researchers, FWO financing enables them to deepen their research and to continue to focus on building an international scientific career. Here, too, we see that FWO researchers are much in demand and are excellently equipped to also perform at high level in an international context. Nearly all Flemish ERC grant holders have an FWO background and the growing number of applications for research abroad by our postdoctoral researchers proves that international top labs and research groups are keen to receive our Flemish researchers.

We are therefore very pleased that a few weeks ago Minister Muyters implemented the earlier decision in principle to allocate an annual additional budget of €30.3 million to the FWO.    This has allowed us to bring the success rate for postdoctoral researchers to 27.3 % for this application round.  In this round, no fewer than 195 new postdoctoral researchers were appointed. With 21.3 %, the success rate for predocs is slightly lower, but here, too, an extra number of fellowships could be allocated, bringing the total of new allocations to 215.  What is also positive is that for postdoc renewals a success rate of 75 % could be achieved, meaning that 75 postdoctoral researchers can continue to invest in groundbreaking scientific research.


The extra resources will also enable the FWO to increase the success rate for research projects beyond 20 %, to 20.45 % to be exact, for the first time since long.


However, much work remains to be done. For 2019, the FWO will endeavour to ensure that a substantial portion of the extra resources earmarked by the Flemish government and Minister Muyters for the growth project in R&D investments, goes to the FWO.  With the implementation of the reforms of the evaluation procedure for the fundamental programmes, the FWO HAS fulfilled its part of the deal to push through drastic reforms in the short term.  We have already started up talks with the cabinet to bring the success rate for the projects to the target of 33 % via these extra resources.


The FWO has a busy summer ahead, working hard on the further implementation of regulations and decisions of the approved reforms. In this newsletter, you can read everything about the transitional measures that were approved by the FWO Board of Trustees.  A detailed presentation in which all answers to your questions about the reforms, is available at the FWO website.


On behalf of the whole FWO team, I wish you pleasant holidays and we look forward to the exciting results that we may expect from the many new approved research programmes.

In the spotlight

Transitional measures for the PhD Fellowship, SB Grant, Research Grant and Research Projects programmes

In a previous extra newsletter, we announced the reform of the PhD Fellowship, SB Grant, and Research Projects support programmes, and the abolition of the Research Grant.   One of the consequences of this reform is that applicants who could submit an application for 2019 (start of the new programmes), will no longer be able to always do so afterwards. To ensure a smooth transition and allow everyone to timely adapt to the new situation, the FWO has planned a number of transitional measures.

» They are summarised here.

New FWO call for doctoral (PhD) grants strategic basic research (SB) launched

The FWO opened the new call for SB doctoral (PhD) grants on June 15. Applications can be submitted until 15 September, 5:00 pm.


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. Such potential applications may lead to innovations for companies or sectors, and/or fit into the VRWI transition areas.


The core of the evaluation is the oral defence by candidate before an expert panel. These panels are made up of international academics and R&D specialists from industry. The evaluation criteria focus on the candidate, the project and the potential applications, with the candidate's qualities (potential doctoral skills, technical knowledge and application-oriented insight) carrying the greatest weight.


The FWO will organise info sessions at each university in late June/early July. Participants will be told who can apply and how the evaluation and selection are carried out. They will also receive tips on how to prepare the application and the oral defence.


The call runs until Friday 15 September 2017, 5:00 pm. Candidates can submit their application through the FWO e-portal. The FWO Board of Trustees will award 200 SB grants in mid-December.

Vacancies Expertpanels

The FWO is looking for (inter)national experts to reinforce its Expertpanels. Candidate experts are invited to submit their motivated application by Friday 8 September 2017 at the latest using this online form. Candidate experts must indicate the Expert Panel for which they apply and complete the online form, including their personal expertise and a list of scientific publications.  There are 28 vacancies for experts associated with a Flemish institution and 44 vacancies for experts associated with a non-Flemish institution.

» An overview of the open vacancies and all practical information are available at the website.


FWO annual 2016

The European Research Council (ERC) is  celebrating its 10th anniversary. Therefor FWO has decided to pay tribute to this important player in the field of fundamental scientific research in Europe. In its Annual 2016, the FWO gives the floor to a number of Flemish researchers who have successfully secured an ERC Grant.

The annual also contains an overview of the events, initiatives and challenges FWO has experienced in the past year.

» Read the online version of the Annual 2016

International news

Allocation of EUI PhD grants

The European University Institute (EUI) in Florence is a renowned institute that offers young research a unique opportunity to complete their PhD research in an international and scientifically high-level context with a European focus in social and human sciences: history, law, economics, political and social sciences. For the academic year 2017-2018, the FWO will finance two EUI PhD grants for Flemish PhD students. The evaluation of the applications has been completed. The FWO wishes to congratulate Remes Anastasia and Scarlett Roland on their EUI appointment. From 1 September 2017, they will start their work at the EUI to prepare their PhD.

Launch of FWO [PEGASUS]2 MSCA Facebook page

In September 2015, the FWO launched the [PEGASUS]2 programme. This programme aims to promote the international mobility of researchers, on the one hand, by attracting excellent postdoctoral researchers to the Flemish Community and, on the other hand, by giving postdoctoral researchers in the Flemish Community the opportunity to carry out part of their research abroad.

In the meantime, all of the 60 available fellowships have been allocated and all FWO [PEGASUS]2 MSCA fellows have embarked on their projects. Because the FWO is committed to science communication and to make the activities of these fellows accessible to the outside world, we have recently created a [PEGASUS]2 Facebook page. On this page, FWO [PEGASUS]2 MSCA fellows can share, for example, their experiences in Belgium and abroad, post activities in the context of science communication, and present their research. Interested? Then visit this Facebook page.


This project received financing from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 665501.


Programme in the spotlight: Grants for a long stay at an ERC Grantee abroad

At the end of 2016 the FWO launched the new mobility programme ‘grant for a long stay at an ERC grantee abroad’. Are you planning to apply for an ERC grant (starting, consolidator, or advanced) in the near future? Would you like to strengthen your ERC application by bolstering your foreign research experience and optimising your research profile/vision? Then you may consider travelling abroad to carry out research in the excellent research environment of a former or current ERC Grantee (starting, consolidator or advanced).

» More info available on the web page.

Amendment Art. 11 Regulation for travel grant for participation in a conference abroad

As of today, an active participation (presentation or poster) is an essential eligibility condition for a conference grant. The exemption referred to in Art. 11 therefore no longer applies:

Art. 11. The allowances are in principle awarded only to researchers with an academic master's degree who have undertaken original research and will deliver a speech at the relevant conference. An exception can be made for researchers who have gained a certain prestige at the relevant forum and whose presence is desirable for discussion and information purposes.

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, the following calls were launched during the past months, with FWO participation:

  • ERA-NET RUS.Plus - JTC 2017 (a network for European-Russian research cooperation on ‘Science & Technologies Projects’ (S&T Projects)).


In addition, within one ERA-NET a final decision has been made regarding the allocation and funding of projects with Flemish participation, namely:


ERANID - JTC 2016 (‘Illicit Drugs’)

  • o ‘REC-PATH’ – Wouter Vanderplasschen, University of Ghent, €176,200.
» For details on the upcoming calls see the FWO website

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 call was opened during this period:

  • JPI Healthy Diet Healthy Life (HDHL): Working Groups call 2017 on diet-related chronic diseases.
» For details on upcoming JPI calls see the FWO website.

Science Europe

Science Europe, the organisation of 43 European Research Funding and Research Performing Organisations (RFO-RPO) from 27 countries, has again completed a number of recommendations for science and policy:


In May 2017 it also supported a public plea for maintaining and even reinforcing the ERC:

In Support of the European Research Council Scientific Council Statement ‘Building on a European Success Story to Further Empower European Researchers’


In addition, it calls on scientific institutions to disclose the Open Access fees they have paid as a way to increase the transparency of the financial aspects of OA:

Shaping Open Access and Creating Transparency: Science Europe Recommends Disclosing Publication Fees.


In Hungary, it seeks to prevent academic freedom from being compromised:

Science Europe Condemns Legislative Measures Against Academic Freedom in Hungary


To keep up to date on the activities of Science Europe, you can subscribe to their quarterly newsletter: .

NCP Flanders

On 1 December 2016, Ann Van Hauwaert was appointed as NCP (National Contact Point) Coordinator for Horizon 2020 for Flanders. NCP advisers of FWO and VLAIO (Flanders Agency Entrepreneurship) will be united in one joint operation. Named NCP Flanders, the organisation will gain visibility by creating its own website on which all Horizon2020 related information relevant to Flemish stakeholders (both businesses and knowledge institutions) will be posted.  The list of advisers that can be contacted for the various domains within Horizon 2020 is in the meantime kept up to date at

Workshops and information sessions

Workshop Horizon2020 proposal writing 10 May 2017

The workshop Horizon2020 proposal writing organised by the NCPs of Vlaio and  FWO took place on May 10. Trainer Robert Porter explained the differences between writing a scientific publication and a subsidy application, and provided tips on how to write a good application. 75% of the participants in the workshop came from the academic sector and one quarter from the non-academic sector.


Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships information session 29 May 2017

On September 29, the FWO, together with the other Belgian NCPs, organised an information session on Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships. The modalities were discussed by Ilse De Waele, Project Officer of the Research Executive Agency (REA). Testimonials were provided by Dr. Brian Booth (University of Antwerp), Dr. Federica Bressan (University of Ghent) and Dr. Neha Shrestha (UCL). Professor Anne Thoul (ULg), who has for years been active as an expert evaluator, shared her experiences and discussed all the (sub-)evaluation criteria for the next call which will close on 14 September 2017. In the afternoon, the FWO organised a workshop on proposal writing. The template for submitting the application was discussed in detail with the participants.

Evaluation results

ERC Proof of Concept Grants 2017 call, first cut-off 19 January 2017

  • Robert Colebunders, University of Antwerp
  • Johan Hofkens, KU Leuven
  • Joost Schymkowitz, Flemish Institute for Biotechnology and University of Ghent


Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Networks 2017 call deadline 10 January 2017

Allocations with Flemish coordinator at the European Training Networks:

  • University of Ghent, project: HYCOAT - A European Training Network for Functional Hybrid Coatings by Molecular Layer Deposition
  • KU Leuven, project: FOODENGINE - Enginomics in food quality design: the case of shelf-stable fruit-, vegetable- and legume-based foods
  • University of Antwerp, project: B-Q MINDED - Breakthroughs in Quantitative Magnetic resonance ImagiNg for improved DEtection of brain Diseases
  • University of Antwerp, project: IT-DED3 - Integrated Training in Dry Eye Disease Drug Development (IT-DED3)


  • 13 mei: De Syriër die Vlaamse boeren de 21ste eeuw moet binnenloodsen (Het Nieuwsblad)
  • 5 juni: Geluidsgolven tegen Alzheimer (Eos)
  • 22 juni: Einde aan belangenvermenging bij beurzen voor onderzoek (De Tijd)


New calls