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Junior and Senior research project

Status

Duration

Announcement of results

Objective

Research projects are initiated by the researchers. There are two types of projects: junior and senior research projects. The objective of FWO's research projects is to advance fundamental scientific research. They are initiated on the initiative of researchers in all scientific disciplines.

The funding programme for projects fundamental research aims to support research addressing fundamental research questions. It focuses on curiosity-driven research, the sole/predominant/main aim of which is knowledge generation - i.e. the development of new knowledge without any concrete practical application or use in view. Questions on the valorisation of the research results are by no means mandatory or even relevant. Research funded by this programme is all about crossing the boundaries of existing knowledge, possibly but not necessarily with real scientific breakthroughs. These breakthroughs may consist of results with big potential impact, be it scientifically, economically, societally, culturally and/or in other ways, and which may transform or radically change existing knowledge, paradigms, technologies and/or structures.

Daring new ideas situated at the very start of the R&D-cycle are as welcome as research that is multi- or interdisciplinary. Applicants propose their own topics (bottom-up); no themes are imposed. The size of applicant teams may vary from individual researchers to multi-partner conglomerates. The programme indeed offers opportunities for cooperation between research teams within and even (in a more limited way) outside of Flanders. Bi- or multilateral projects encompassing structural collaboration with researchers in a series of other countries in Europe are possible as part of the WEAVE programme, which is integrated in the fundamental projects.

To create a level playing field, the programme for projects on fundamental research is divided in a junior competition, for applicants with PhD seniority of no more than 12 years, and a senior competition for applicants with PhD seniority of more than 12 years.

The programme for fundamental research projects thus distinguishes itself from funding schemes addressing applied research (or experimental development) on the one hand and schemes supporting strategic basic research, involving innovation potential in the long term, on the other.

Important dates

  • 15 January 2024: call opens
  • March 2024: internal deadlines at host institution (contact the responsible department of the host institution in a timely manner for the transfer of the application between supervisor-spokesperson and host institution)
  • 2 April 2024 at 5.00 pm: call closes (final submission date via FWO e-portal by main host institution)
  • 9-20 September 2024: rebuttal phase (in writing)
    • 20 September 2024 at 23h59: end of rebuttal phase (final submission date via FWO e-portal by promoter-spokesperson)
  • 21 October – 15 November 2024: (in person) panel meetings
  • 13 December 2024: announcement of results
  • 1 January 2025: start of project
  • January 2025: feedback is sent to supervisor-spokesperson

Features

  • Duration: in principle 4 years, minimum 2 years
  • Staff and consumables: at least €50,000 per year for the entire project (including all partners) and at most €145,000 per year per participating institution, with the exception of the non-Flemish partners, who may receive up to 10% of the total budget for the project.
  • Equipment: maximum €150,000 per project
  • Success rate: 18% (2023)

Profile and conditions

  • As a team of researchers you need funding for consumables, equipment and/or personnel.
  • 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); a non-Flemish research institution may participate for at most 10 percent of the budget.
  • Your research will be carried out under the supervision of a supervisor-spokesperson, possibly in collaboration with other (co-)supervisors (Article 10 - 12).
  • A researcher can, per call, act as supervisor-spokesperson, supervisor or co-supervisor for maximum two fundamental research projects, regardless of whether budget is requested or not. The total of requested and ongoing fundamental research projects on behalf of a single supervisor-spokesperson, supervisor or co-supervisor may not exceed two. The date on which a newly awarded research project fundamental research would normally start, is used as reference date to calculate this total. This means that there can be only 1 ongoing research project on the date that your new research project will start. When there are already two ongoing research projects, one must end on the 31st of December of the year that the application was submitted. This rule also applies to the LAP and Weave projects. This rule does not apply to a supervisor or co-supervisor from a partner-institution that has not requested any budget for the entire duration of the project, provided that the project is a cross-institutional project.
  • For junior projects the supervisor-spokesperson and all (co-)supervisor must have obtained their first PhD degree maximum 12 years before the submission deadline of the project application.
  • For senior projects the supervisor-spokesperson or the (co-)supervisor has obtained their first PhD degree more than 12 years before the submission deadline of the project application.
  • Members of the ZAP staff (full and assistant professors) of a Flemish university who are retiring in the year of the submission of the project application or who will retire during the project period, may submit two applications (this being the maximum as regulated for all applicants). From the moment of retirement on they have to be replaced as supervisor(-spokesperson) by a member of the ZAP staff who as a co-supervisor at the same main host institution co-submitted the project application and they can from that moment participate in the project as an emeritus mandated by the university, also on a non-salaried basis.
  • All material acquired with a grant for consumables/equipment of the FWO shall become the property of the university. 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.
  • The host institution is the employer of staff remunerated on research projects.
  • Supervisors and co-supervisors are not allowed any remuneration or accumulation with a remuneration on a research project.
  • The real cost is used in the application when the name(s) of the researcher(s) is (are) already known. When the name(s) of the researcher(s) is (are) not yet known, indicative amounts can be used.
  • On top of the research funding for the project a overhead of 6 percent is awarded to the host institution(s).
  • You agree with the Research Integrity Clause

Procedure

  • You submit your proposal online.
  • For the collaboration between institutions, consent is given in one of three ways:
    • Partners who can also be main host institution: their consent is sent directly to FWO.
    • Flemish Partners who cannot be main host institution: the supervisor-spokesperson collects the signed forms of consent from all these partners. With this declaration those institutions commit themselves to act as host institutions for the project and more specifically with respect to the research work that will be performed by their researchers in the project. The declarations from these institutions have to be uploaded as an attachment to the application form. Download the template for this declaration.
    • Non-Flemish partners: a collaboration agreement has to be made at latest 9 months after the start of the project and is stored by the Flemish main host institution.
  • Each (co-)supervisor(-spokesperson) has to upload a CV. The template provided in the application form must be used.
  • Your application is submitted to a number of external referees for evaluation.
  • Rebuttal: You will be given the opportunity to respond to the comments of the external referees and internal (members FWO expert panels) evaluation reports between September 9 and 20 2024. At the start of the rebuttal phase, the supervisor-spokesperson of the application receives an invitation to submit the rebuttal. This email is sent to the (primary) e-mail address as filled out in the FWO e-portal – this is the e-mail address via which the application is submitted to the supervisor-spokesperson’s main host institution. An invitation will be sent to this email address. Please also check your spam folder to make sure you do not miss this important message.
    If you have not received a message from FWO by 9 September 2024, the FWO should be informed as soon as possible.
    Team members involved in an application are strongly advised to make arrangements regarding the composition and submission of the rebuttal in case the supervisor-spokesperson is not able to complete this task because of force-majeure. In any case, ‘force-majeure’ has to be proven by medical attestation or other relevant official documents.
  • The FWO expert panels evaluate your application.
  • No more than 50 percent of the panel budget can be awarded to projects with exclusively (co)supervisors affiliated to the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB). This rule does not apply to applications submitted by (co)supervisors affiliated to VIB in collaboration with one or more (co)supervisor(s) without VIB affiliation.
  • The expert panels report to the board of trustees.
  • The board of trustees takes the final decision.
  • At the end of the evaluation procedure you will receive feedback on your application.

The correct Expertpanel

The evaluation of the applications is carried out by 31 discipline-specific expert panels and one specific interdisciplinary panel. The applicant is solely responsible for the choice of the expert panel that will evaluate their application. You should read the scientific scopes of all expert panel carefully to determine to which panel your application is best submitted. You may find the scopes of the panels here.

Contact

See contact info for specific questions

For technical (IT) problems regarding e-portal and application modules send an email to the IT helpdesk: FWOhelpdesk@fwo.be

Information sessions

Evaluation and selection procedures are commented during the information sessions and in this presentation. The presentation allows to better understand the evaluation and selection process, and to prepare an application that meets the selection criteria.

Amendments to the application form for the purpose of broadening the research(er) profile and responsible research and innovation

The application form for this funding programme has been amended in 2022 to pay more attention to various researcher profiles and research results.

In the form the subsections relating to peer reviewed articles have been merged into a single section (i.e. without distinguishing between Web of Science, VABB-SHW and the like), the section ‘other output and impact’ in the CV template has been placed in a broader context, a ‘research statement’ has been introduced in which the ‘short CV’ and the ‘career path’ overlap, enabling the researcher to insert a narrative, and the option has been added to present and clarify the five most relevant publications and/or achievements over the last five years, and to include the research funding obtained over the last five years.

The evaluation procedure has also been amended accordingly: in the score grids, the score descriptors have been supplemented with the new elements in the application form. 

The purpose of these amendments is to give researchers the opportunity to demonstrate a range of scientifically relevant activities, skills, experiences and achievements. The FWO is thus following an international trend away from a one-sided focus on ‘classical’ output criteria (such as publications, bibliometrics, patents and the like) towards a broader view of what science can be and accomplish, with respect for the specificity of each discipline. The new application forms intend to help the researcher demonstrate this versatility. 

The application form now also features two questions relating to ‘responsible research and innovation’: one about the extent to which ‘gender/sex and diversity’ has been taken into account in the research approach and another about the involvement of social stakeholders in the research. Applicants can justify their answers to both questions or, where appropriate, indicate why these aspects are not relevant to their application. The questions are intended to raise awareness about these aspects in terms of what is understood as responsible research and innovation.