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Bilateral research cooperation China

Financing of joint research projects with the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)


In association with

Announcement of results


The FWO is keen on promoting international collaboration as a driving force for excellence. That is why the FWO signs bilateral agreements with a number of countries for the funding of joint research projects. These projects go further than the traditional mobility projects as staff and consumables as well as equipment can also be financed. One of the selected countries is China. In 2024 the FWO reached an agreement with the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) on the funding of new research projects.

Be aware: For any travel towards a higher-risk destination, FWO funding can only be used in case of a positive advice of the concerned host institution. Please make sure to request this advice at the responsible advisory body of your host institution.

Important dates

  • 5 March 2024: call opens
  • 25 April 2024 (2pm): online info session for Flemish (co-)supervisor(s)(-spokesperson)(s) on the new knowledge security section in the application form. More information on FWO’s knowledge security policy can be found on this website.
  • 22 May 2024 (5pm local time): final submission date via FWO E-portal directly by the applicant. The submission does not take place via the Flemish main host institution.
    23 May 2024 (4pm Beijing Time): call closes at NSFC
  • November 2024: joint FWO-NSFC evaluation panel
  • December 2024: announcement of results
  • 1 January 2025: start of project
  • February-March 2025: feedback is sent to supervisor-spokesperson


  • Joint research project with Chinese partner(s). It must be an integrated research proposal with one central research question, methodology and work plan.
  • Fundamental research in the following disciplines supported by the eight NSFC departments:
    • Mathematical & physical sciences
    • Chemical sciences
    • Life sciences
    • Earth sciences
    • Engineering & material sciences
    • Information sciences
    • Management sciences
    • Health sciences
  • Project duration: 3 years
  • Staff and consumables applied for at FWO: minimally € 45,000 and maximally € 85,000 per year per project. If you want to use ‘core facilities’ during the execution of your project, do make sure that the fees for that use are budgeted correctly in the ‘consumables’ expenditure category. Equipment funding applied for at FWO: maximally € 150,000 per project.
  • Success rate 2021 call: 8% (11 projects). For this call we aim to fund 12 projects.

Profile and conditions

  • The collaboration with partners from China will have an added value for the project.
  • Your research will be carried out at an eligible Flemish main host institution, possibly in collaboration with other Flemish and/or federal research institutions (Article 7) and under the supervision of a supervisor-spokesperson, possible in collaboration with other (co-)supervisors (Article 10 - 12).
    In contrast to the junior/senior research projects fundamental research no distinction is made between junior and senior research projects in the framework of this bilateral call with China. In addition, it is not possible to use 10% of the budget requested at FWO for non-Flemish research institutions.
  • In the framework of this call with NSFC, you can only act once as a supervisor(-spokesperson) or co-supervisor.
  • Applications in the framework of this cooperation are not part of the project competition junior/senior research projects fundamental research and as a result:
    • do not count towards the calculation of the maximum number of projects per application round for which you may act as (co-)supervisor(-spokesperson);
    • are not taken into account for the maximum of two projects applied for and ongoing on the start date of the newly allocated project.
  • No remuneration or accumulation of a remuneration is allowed for (co-)supervisor(s)(spokesperson) in connection with a research project.
  • You agree with the Research Integrity Clause.


  • Carefully read the guidelines for applicants and verify if there are no restrictions in place regarding international cooperation in FWO funding instruments.
  • Your joint application is submitted before the deadline both at FWO (by using the online application form in the FWO E-loket) as well as at NSFC according to their modalities. Please note that each online FWO submission is automatically confirmed by a confirmation email. If you did not receive such an email, please verify whether you properly submitted your application.
  • Specific points of attention FWO application:
    • A CV of each involved Flemish and Chinese (co-)supervisor(-spokesperson) that is structured according to the FWO CV template. Please note that only the Flemish PI can upload these CVs in the FWO application.
    • All Flemish (co-)supervisors, the Chinese PI (supervisor-spokesperson) affiliated to the main Chinese host institution, and for each additional involved Chinese institution the lead researcher for that institution (supervisor) should register at FWO by creating an online profile including an overview of academic positions and an updated list of publications on the FWO E-portal before the submission deadline. Other involved Chinese researchers (co-supervisors) should not register at FWO. Please note that the registration of your login/password takes 24 hours. It is therefore strongly advised to start well in advance.
  • FWO and NSFC perform an eligibility check to verify if your application meets all formal criteria of respectively FWO and NSFC.
  • FWO and NSFC will send out the proposal submitted at respectively FWO and NSFC out for external peer review according to the respective regulations for peer review. More information on the FWO modalities can be in the FWO regulations internal and external peer review.
  • An ad hoc joint interdisciplinary selection committee composed of Flemish and Chinese experts makes a final ranking. This panel is composed after the call deadline based on the applications that were submitted.
  • The Board of Trustees of FWO and NSFC take the final granting decision.
  • At the end of the evaluation procedure you will receive feedback on your application.

Remark: In case of transfer of personal data within the framework of an international collaboration, FWO will ensure that the partners abroad guarantee an equal level of protection with respect to the involved parties.

Documents and additional information for applicants


  • See contact for requesting additional info and for specific questions.
  • For technical (IT) problems regarding e-portal and application modules send an email to the IT helpdesk:  .

Specific supporting documents