Newsletter June 2018

electronic letter



June is traditionally the month in which a new class of fellows receive the special news that they can start their doctoral research in October, thereby taking their first steps in a research career that will offer them a host of opportunities.  On behalf of the FWO, I would like to congratulate this year's 215 new PhD fellows on their fellowship and wish them a successful start to their activities! We also have 199 new postdoctoral researchers who can embark on a new phase in their research as from October - a well-deserved continuation of a successful doctorate period.


It will also be the last time this happens in June, because as from 2019 the evaluation of fellowships will take place in September, together with the applications for SB doctoral grants under the new regulations. For the FWO, too, 2019 will be an exciting year in which the reforms will be effectively implemented  and both applicants and evaluators as well as the entire FWO staff will for the first time be confronted in practice with a host of new procedures during the evaluation. After all, we learn by doing.


But first, we have a few busy months ahead of us;  later this year we have the evaluation panels for, amongst others, regular and humanitarian projects, SB doctoral grants, SBO projects, as well as the brand new channel for international research infrastructure (IRI).  Everyone within the FWO is busy working on the preparation of these panels. The FWO will not grind to a halt during the summer months either. Quite the opposite, we are pulling all the stops to ensure that also these applications can be evaluated with due consideration and expertise, as you may expect from the FWO. 


In the coming months we will also be processing the more than ten thousand questions we received in response to the Question for Science campaign. At the start of the campaign on April 17th, Flemish minister for innovation Philippe Muyters was hoping to receive 5,000 questions; eventually, twice as many questions were received: 10,559.  Panels of experts will now analyse and cluster these questions to compile a Flemish Science Agenda, which is meant as a source of inspiration for scientists in responding to public concerns, thereby bringing science and citizens closer together.  Our special thanks goes out to all those who have enthusiastically supported this unique event.


We will hand over the Flemish Science Agenda  to Minister Muyters at the science festival Kennismakers which will take place at the Koningin Elisabethzaal in Antwerp on December 14th. Indeed, this year the FWO is celebrating its 90th anniversary, an event that we cannot let go unnoticed.


Bearing in mind the FWO's mission, we want to highlight first of all science and scientists! That is why on Friday 14 December 2018 at the Flanders Meeting & Convention Center, we will be welcoming several inspiring speakers who will participate in interactive sessions and thus serve as a source for new meetings and refreshing ideas.  We already have over 80 (inter)national speakers for 30 thematic sessions who have confirmed their participation!! We invite everyone to join us in these 'scientific' celebrations!


For now, I wish you all on behalf of the whole FWO team a relaxing summer period, a well-earned vacation, and fresh and inspiring insights!


Willy Verstraete

President FWO

In the spotlight

Flemish Science Agenda

10,599! This is the total number of questions with which the Question for Science campaign was closed in early June. A true success, for the questions provide a wealth of inspiration for science and tell us what keeps Flemish citizens awake at night. All questions can be found at . Read the press release here.


At present, 100 experts are addressing all these questions for the purpose of clustering them into hundred or so overarching themes. In the autumn, we will bring together citizens, scientists and organisations during the Science Nights to further supplement and explore these themes. Why is it that these themes are the first concern of our citizens? What can we learn from this? How can we bring science and society closer together? How can we inspire scientists in better responding to public concerns?


On 14 December 2018 we will officially present the Flemish Science Agenda on the occasion of the science festival Kennismakers. See you then?

FWO, for 90 years the perfect habitat for Knowledge Makers

On 14 December 2018 we will be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the FWO with a grand scientific festival: FWO, for 90 years the perfect habitat for Knowledge Makers. It will most certainly be a varied event with 30 thematic sessions and 80 (inter)national speakers having already confirmed their participation.


In the presence of Minister Muyters, the results of the campaign around the Flemish Science Agenda "Question for Science" will be presented in various thematic sessions.


In addition, we will set up a marketplace where the more than 25 partners of the event will present their research and where also FWO fellows will be given the opportunity to present their latest research results by means of a poster. 


We expect to receive as many as 1,500 attendees. Would you also like to attend this spectacular scientific festival? Then make sure to block 14 December 2018 in your agenda!


Venue: Koningin Elisabethzaal, Koningin Astridplein 26, 2018 Antwerp (near Antwerp Centraal Station)

Start postdoctoral fellowship Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions Seal of Excellence

In addition to its own funds, the European Commission uses the 'Seal of Excellence' instrument to mobilise contributions from member states for funding research and development projects.  The principle is as follows: based on the evaluation under a European programme, investors in member states can decide to support projects evaluated as excellent with their own funds.   At European level, the Seal of Excellence quality label is issued; at national level, candidates can be financed without any additional evaluation. The European Commission (EC) has now implemented the Seal of Excellence, more specifically for the Individual Fellowships of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). 


As from the 2018 call for Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions Individual Fellowships (deadline 12 September 2018), up to 8 candidates with the highest scores on the reserve list will be picked up by the FWO. Only the applications with a Flemish affiliation for a Standard European Fellowship, Career Restart panel and Reintegration panel are eligible for this fellowship. Candidates have to submit an application for a Seal of Excellence fellowship at FWO with as affiliation a main host institution acceptable to the FWO under its postdoctoral researcher regulation. This top of candidates on the reserve list will be awarded an FWO postdoctoral fellowship with a duration of 24 months. The results of the 2018 Individual Fellowships call are expected in February 2019. More information on this new fellowship will soon be available on the FWO website.

FWO Annual 2017

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the FWO and its sister organisation F.R.S.-FNRS. In its Annual 2017, the FWO therefore wishes to focus on the cooperation between research groups receiving joint funding from both institutions.  Based on a number of double interviews, researchers from both parts of the country talk about their fruitful cooperation across the language border. The annual also includes an overview of all funding channels and key figures of the FWO.  You can consult the annual online. Printed copies can be ordered through

Across the boarders

Allocation of EUI PhD grant

The European University Institute (EUI) in Florence is a renowned institute that offers young researchers 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. The evaluation of the applications has been completed and for the 2018-2019 academic year the FWO will finance one EUI doctoral grant for Flemish PhD student Aruna Michiels. From 01 September 2018, she will start work at the EUI to prepare her PhD.


Each year, the FWO finances up to two doctoral fellowships at the EUI. More information on the eligibility requirements and evaluation procedure is available on the websites of the FWO and the EUI. The call will always open in the autumn, with deadline on January 31st. Applications for such a doctoral grant at the EUI must be submitted to the EUI using the forms provided for this purpose.

Trade mission to Vietnam

The trade mission to Vietnam headed by Minister-President of Flanders, Geert Bourgeois, took place from 13 to 17 May 2018. The FWO took this opportunity to put the spotlight on the cooperation with the “National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED)” launched in 2009. Together with NAFOSTED, the FWO organised an event where the Vietnamese-Flemish cooperation was illustrated by means of two recently funded research projects. Prof. Maarten Hertog, together with his Vietnamese partner Prof. Tran Thi Dinh, presented their research project “Heat tolerance and the regulation of climacteric fruit ripening’’. Prof. An Verberckmoes, together with her colleagues from Vietnam, Prof. Phung Le and Dr. Do Huu Nghi, presented their recently funded project “Valorization of Lignin by development of selective enzymatic degradation, chemical catalysis and separation of innovative chemical Bio-Aromatics, VALIMATICS”. In addition to the substantive aspects, both research teams explained the added value and impact of international cooperation for their research project.

Global Research Council 2018

This year, the 7th meeting of the Global Research Council took place from 14 to 16 May in Moscow and was presided by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF). The purpose of this meeting is to bring together the heads of research councils from all over the world to discuss key policy issues relevant to the functioning of the research councils.  More than 60 councils from more than 50 countries, including the FWO, attended the meeting. This year's central topics were peer review and science diplomacy.

More information available at

MoU signed with Russian Science Foundation

On 14 May 2018, the FWO signed an agreement with a new partner: the Russian Science Foundation (RSF). The agreement aims to encourage scientific cooperation between Russian and Flemish research teams by funding fully-fledged bilateral research projects. Under this new agreement, a first call for Flemish-Russian research projects will be launched in the first half of 2019. 

Travel agencies from 1 July 2018

From 1 July 2018, the travel agencies recognised by the FWO are as follows: Omnia Travel and Uniglobe SmartTravel. Researchers who are awarded funding from the FWO must therefore book their trip with either one of these travel agencies as from 1 July 2018. More information will follow shortly on .

Science Europe

Science Europe, an organisation of 43 European Research Funding and Research Performing Organisations (RFO-RPO) from 27 countries, with a combined research budget of approximately €18 billion, also counts the FWO among its members.  The organisation has recently published the following position and advice papers on European science policy:



Visit for news and information on Science Europe and its activities.

Evaluation results European programmes

Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship on Quantum Technologies-03, deadline 20 February 2018

A total of 140 applications for a RIA were submitted, 20 applications received funding, of which 3 with Flemish participation:

  • KU Leuven, partner, project: QRANGE - Quantum Random Number Generators: cheaper, faster and more secure
  • Imec, partner, project: ASTERIQS - Advancing Science and TEchnology thRough dIamond Quantum Sensing
  • Imec, partner, project: UNIQORN - Affordable Quantum Communication for Everyone: Revolutionizing the Quantum Ecosystem from Fabrication to Application


Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Networks, deadline 12 October 2017

A total of 1419 applications were submitted, Belgium received 10 ITNs as coordinator, of which 9 for Flanders:

  • KU Leuven, ATLAS - AuTonomous intraLuminAl Surgery
  • KU Leuven, TRANS-SENIOR - Transitional Care Innovation in Senior Citizens
  • KU Leuven, SAS - Safer Autonomous Systems
  • KU Leuven, CHARMING - Chemical Engineering Immersive Learning
  • Universiteit Gent, DuRSAAM - PhD Training Network on Durable, Reliable and Sustainable Structures with Alkali-Activated Materials
  • KU Leuven, SULTAN - European Training Network for the remediation and reprocessing of sulfidic mining waste sites
  • Universiteit Antwerpen, FutureArctic - A glimpse into the Arctic future: equipping a unique natural experiment for next-generation ecosystem research
  • Universiteit Gent, StarT - European Training Network to Diagnose, Understand and Treat Stargardt Disease, a Frequent Inherited Blinding Disorder
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel, RNAct - Enabling proteins with RNA recognition motifs for synthetic biology and bio-analytics

Information sessions NCP

An information session on Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships took place on 15 May. Stijn Delauré, policy officer at Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture and Ilse De Waele, project offer at the Research Executive Agency presented the modalities of the call. The morning included testimonies from the fellows and their promoters and an evaluator. In the afternoon, a course proposal writing took place. The IF call is open with deadline 12 September 2018. A budget of €273 million is available.


On 17 May, the ERC Executive Agency organized an information day for Belgian ERC grant holders in cooperation with the Belgian ERC National Contact Points. A wide range of subjects was discussed and a number of researchers presented preliminary results of their research.


On 6 June an information session and workshop proposal writing about ERC Starting and Consolidator Grants took place. The call dates and available budgets are expected to be published in July. The small-scale information session on Future and Emerging Technologies Research and Innovation Actions took place on 8 June. The next cut-offs for proposals are January 24 2019 and 18 September 2019 with a budget of over €160 million.


New calls

  • Cooperation projects Japan (JSPS): submission deadline 05 September 2018
  • Cooperation projects Poland (PAS): submission deadline 14 September 2018
  • Cooperation projects Taiwan (MOST): continuous submission.