Newsletter March 2018

electronic letter


I’m glad that I, as President of the FWO, can announce that the final phase of the FWO evaluation procedure reforms has definitively been incorporated into regulations (Read the detailed presentation) at the latest meeting of the Board of Trustees.


Following the amendments to the regulations on fellowships and research projects, this phase focused on the extensive regulations on internal and external peer review which were updated based on the guidelines as already established by the Board of Trustees at a previous meeting.


In practice, this means that all regulations are now in place to open calls under the new regulations and procedures as from September 2018. The new panels, which will be composed of maximum 12 members and broken down into a fellowship and a project panel, will be operational as from January 2019. It will no longer be possible for panel members to submit applications themselves or to act as (co-)supervisor of fellowship applications. The internationalisation of the panels which the FWO has initiated in recent years, will obviously be continued and further reinforced. The Chairs of the FWO Expert Panels, for example, will be designated among the group of internationally affiliated panel members.


It also means an end to the situation where researchers themselves select the external referees. These experts will in future be selected by the FWO administration, assisted by a team of external experts. This is one of the major elements to further increase the objectivity in the evaluation procedure, which has always been a priority for the FWO.


In addition, the new procedures are intended to ensure that the uniformity of the assessments across the different panels is further improved. The new scoring grids, which will also be strictly followed by the FWO administration, should ensure that applications are scored in a uniform manner. A reform of the pre-reporting procedures should help achieve this.


As you can see, with this package of measures the FWO addresses many of the concerns expressed by today's researchers. What will not change, however, is the essence of the FWO. The FWO will continue to guarantee the selection of the most excellent research, conducted at Flemish universities and research centres. It is only by continuing to focus on this policy of excellence that we, as FWO, together with academic and other stakeholders, can ensure that Flemish researchers will continue to play a high-impact role at the forefront of science.


We also try to obtain more budget, with good arguments, so that the success rates become more comfortable, but given the large number of applications it has to be seen that the FWO is and remains very competitive.


The target of high-quality, independent research driven by curiosity, carefully framed and administered, will guide the FWO's endeavours and efforts in the years ahead.  


Willy Verstraete

President FWO

In the spotlight

ESOF 2018

The biennial Euroscience Open Forum ESOF will take place in the city of Toulouse from 9 to 14 July 2018. 


ESOF 2018 was built around the motto "Sharing science: towards new horizons". The sessions will discuss hot topics in science and science policy.


ESOF invariably succeeds in bringing together journalists, young researchers, policy makers and politicians and the general public.


As in previous editions, ESOF has a special career programme and offers young researchers a unique opportunity to meet internationally renowned researchers within and outside their research area.


This year, too, the FWO will be sending a group of young researchers to ESOF 2018 in Toulouse to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  They will leave on 09 July 2018 and return on 13 July 2018.


Would you like to win a travel grant for ESOF 2018 in Toulouse?


It's simple. First of all, fill in the form with your personal details. Then create an original short film or animation, explaining your research project. Send the film or animation along with the completed form to The competition runs until Thursday 15 April 2018.


More information about the ESOF 2018 can be found at the following link:

Launch of new International Research Infrastructure (IRI) programme

On 19 January 2018, the Flemish Government approved the Decision regulating the Flemish participation in and/or funding of international research infrastructures, aimed at creating an integrated regulatory framework and further implementing the participation of Flemish researchers in international research infrastructures. The Decision brings together, streamlines, updates and establishes a structural basis for three instruments (ESFRI, Big Science and other participations in international infrastructures) and provides for a procedure based on calls for both the selection of Flemish researchers participating in European and pan-European research infrastructures and the funding of one-off and structural costs.


This new FWO programme will therefore replace the current ESFRI and Big Science funding. To date, resources for this purpose were either limited or committed through ad hoc funding. Calls will in the future be organised every two years and successful applicants will be able to receive long-term funding (4 years).


The first call for this new programme was opened on 01 March 2018. The deadline for submission of the final project proposal by the main applicant is set on  04 June 2018.

» Details regarding this application are available on our website.

New vacancies for FWO Expert Panels available early April

The FWO is always looking for national and international experts to reinforce its Expertpanels. For the panels that will evaluate the fellowships starting on 01/012019, numerous vacancies will be posted on our website in early April 2018. We invite suitable domestic and foreign candidates to send in their applications. 


As an expert you have the following profile:

  • You belong to the top 30% of your discipline
  • You are a generalist in one of the following fields of expertise:
    • Biological sciences
    • Cultural sciences
    • Behavioural and social sciences
    • Medical sciences
    • Science and Technology
    • You have an appointment at a university or a scientific institution.

The Expertpanels bring together a group of highly qualified international experts for one or two meetings per year in Brussels. Their basic task is to evaluate the submitted research proposals. Experts are appointed for 3 years and the appointment can be renewed once.


Flemish Supercomputer Centre (VSC) Users Day 2018

The VSC User Committee is organising its annual VSC Users Day on 22 May 2018 at the Paleis der Academiën, Brussels.


The User Committee has put together an interesting programme. In addition to a lecture by a domestic and a foreign speaker (Ulrich Rüde, CERFACS and Universität Erlangen-Nuernberg on "Ultrascalable algorithms for complex flows" and Jan Fostier on "Processing Genomics Data: High Performance Computing meets Big Data", workshops will be organised. They will be repeated in the afternoon so that participants can attend two different workshops.


The day will conclude with a poster session and drinks. Participation is free, subject to registration.


The detailed programme and practical information is available at

Results Odysseus

With the Odysseus programme, the FWO seeks to encourage internationally renowned researchers, working abroad and having built a career there, to (re-)establish themselves within Flanders. 


On 28 February 2018, the Board of Trustees of the FWO endorsed the selection of 15 top researchers who will be allocated an Odysseus project. These excellent researchers will each receive start-up funding in order to develop a research group and undertake top research, holding a permanent appointment at a Flemish university for a period of 5 years.  In practice, two profiles are involved: on the one hand, top researchers who are internationally recognised as leaders in their respective disciplines and already hold an appointment at a foreign university (GROUP I), and, on the other hand, 'prospective top researchers' who, according to their peers, have the makings of becoming top researchers (GROUP II).  Three researchers were selected within Group I and 12 within Group II.

» You can find the full list of researchers here

Largest laboratory of the Netherlands is looking for scientists

For three years, Lowlands has been opening its doors to visitors to take part in the Lowlands Science programme component, under which various research projects are carried out.


There is an on-site lab where visitors can participate in a number of exciting experiments. In the previous edition, researchers carried out DNA tests to identify love matches among the visitors. Other researchers let loose a digital zombie virus on the visitors to track how fast viruses can spread.  Some 2000 visitors participated in this trial.


This year, too, Lowlands calls on scientists to submit a research proposal. In order to participate, your research must be of good quality, be fun to take part in, and, of course, be feasible.   The research proposal will be evaluated by a jury who will then select the participants and their proposals.  The submission deadline is 27 March 2018. Click here for details about the conditions and research requirements.

Results EOS programme

In the first call within the Excellence of Science (EOS) programme, the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) and its French-speaking counterpart Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (F.R.S.-FNRS) allocated a total of €118 million to 38 research consortia in order to perform excellent basic research over a period of four years. The EOS programme enables research cooperation between regions and areas through the funding of excellent research consortia made up of research groups from both language communities, potentially supplemented by federal and international research groups.  Under this first EOS call, the FWO invests €65 million, supplemented with €53 million from the Walloon region, i.e. a total of €118 million.  


List of successful applicants: /media/770379/eos_call2017_results_publication_en.pdf

Fifth anniversary of Jonge Academie (Young Academy)

For five years, the Jonge Academie has been serving society, committed to making science accessible to everyone. To celebrate this occasion, His Majesty King Filip was invited to enter into a dialogue with young scientists and artists. Afterwards King Filip had some laudatory words for the Jonge Academie:  The members of the Jonge Academie are passionately committed to their mission: as a collective, their aim is to put science at the service of society by taking a critical, forward-looking approach beyond the boundaries of universities or fields of science.  Lieve Van Hoof and Niel Hens, the chairs of the Jonge Academie, were very grateful for this royal accolade.  They see it as recognition not only of their commitment but also of its importance. 


The Jonge Academie was set up five years ago on the initiative of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts.  At the time, forty scientists were selected to work on this project for a period of five years. The chairs thanked this generation for their service and engagement. This time, twelve new members joined the Academy, eight of whom are (former) FWO fellows.

International news

Grant for the organisation of a scientific conference in Belgium expanded as of 01/03/2018.

The FWO was told by the research community that the funding (max. €5,000) for the organisation of a scientific conference in Belgium was inadequate to support a large international reference conference that covers a complete field of expertise. It was therefore decided to expand the current funding channel with an additional category for the funding of large international reference conferences for which the grant is raised to a maximum of €10,000. This expansion will take effect on 1 March 2018.

Evaluation results

ERC Proof of Concept 2017

A total of 269 applications were submitted. Of the 269 applications, 52 proposals qualified for funding and 2 proposals involving a Flemish host institution were awarded funding.

  • Johan Verbeeck, University of Antwerp, ADAPTEM - Adaptive transmission electron microscopy: development of a programmable phase plate
  • Bart De Boer, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, AI-CU - Automated Improvement of Continuous User interfaces


Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships, deadline 14 September 2017

A total of 9089 applications were submitted for call IF-2017. The available budget amounts to €248,70 million. A total of 1348 applications qualified for funding, including 54 with a Belgian and 47 with a Flemish host institution.


Future and Emerging Technologies Open call 2016-2017 RIA and CSA

RIA: A total of 403 applications were submitted for the third cut-off. Of these, 27 proposals were eligible for funding, and 1 application with a Flemish host institution as coordinator was awarded funding.

  • IMEC, CHIRON - Spin Wave Computing for Ultimately-Scaled Hybrid Low-Power Electronics

CSA: A total of 54 applications were submitted. Of these, 19 proposals were eligible for funding, and 1 application with a Flemish host institution as coordinator was awarded funding.

  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel, SMARCOS - Smart Modular Actuator for Robotic Compliant Systems

Info sessions

The first NCP Flanders event took place at the Herman Teirlinck building on 4 December. Johan Hanssens, Secretary General of the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation, presented the Flemish participation figures for Horizon2020. Giovanna Giuffrè reported on the preliminary results of the study "Beyond the Horizon: Foresight in Support of Future EU Research and Innovation Policy (BOHEMIA)". This study was commissioned by DG Research & Innovation and serves as one of the sources of inspiration for the next EU research and innovation framework programme (FP9). The NCPs gave workshops on the different Horizon2020 programmes. The day was concluded with a networking drink. Presentations can be viewed here.

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:


In December 2017

  • Transcan-2 - JTC 2017 (translational cancer research)
    • E-rare-3 - JTC 2018 (research into rare diseases)


In January 2018

  • JPND ERA-NET - JTC 2018 (neurodegenerative diseases)
  • NEURON - JTC 2018 (disease-related neuroscience)
  • ERA-CVD– JTC 2018 ‘Early Career Scientists’ call (cardiovascular diseases)
  • JPI-EC-AMR - JTC 2018 (antimicrobial resistance)


In addition, for various ERA-NETS a final decision was made regarding the allocation and funding of projects with Flemish participation, being:


Fundamental Research


ENSUGI - JTC 2017 (‘Sustainable urbanization’)

  • ‘Urbanising in Place’ – Michiel Dehaene, UGent, €150,000.


RUS PLUS - JTC 2017 (Cooperation EU-Russia)

  • ‘PLASMON-ELECTROLIGHT’ - Karolien De Wael and Silvia Lenaerts, Universiteit Antwerpen, €199,948;
  • ‘SESDiva’ - Dieter Stern, UGent, €200,000;
  • ‘AFTER’ - Philippe De Maeyer, UGent, €126,000 & Anne Gobin, VITO, €74,000;
  • ‘ErbB4-agonists’ - Gilles De Keulenaer, Universiteit Antwerpen, €200,000.


FWO engagement in ERA-NET - Work Programme 2018


On 24 January 2018, following an extensive consultation round among the Flemish research community, the Board of Trustees of the FWO decided, on the basis of the collected input, to join the following networks (with indication of the corresponding funding channels):  

  • Rare Diseases European Joint Programme Cofund (EJP): Fundamental and Strategic Basic Research;
  • Joint Programming in Neurodegenerative Diseases strategic plan (JPND): Fundamental and Strategic Basic Research;
  • Blue Bioeconomy Public-Public Partnership: Fundamental and Strategic Basic Research;
  • FET Flagships - Human Brain Project (HBP) and Graphene: Fundamental and Strategic Basic Research;
  • Joint programming actions to foster innovative energy solutions: Strategic Basic Research;
  • Renegotiating democratic governance in times of disruptions: Fundamental Research.


This renewed engagement illustrates that the FWO will remain committed to participating in - and therefore to the funding of - ERA-NET calls.

» For details on the upcoming calls see the FWO website

Science Europe

Science Europe is 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. On behalf of its members, including the FWO, the mission of Science Europe is to have an impact on shaping the European Union's science policy. This has resulted in various positions and opinions on key science policy issues over the past few months, including the following:

Open Letter on European Open Science Cloud (November 2017)

Response to the Report ‘LAB–FAB–APP: Investing in the European Future we want’ (December 2017)

Guidance Document Presenting a Framework for Discipline-specific Research Data Management (January 2018)

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