Types of funding

There are many ways to fund research, depending on the content, academic discipline, duration, scale and purpose of your research project.

The most important funding bodies and programmes within the UAB are integrated in the schematic overview below. Special means for valorization purposes are distributed by VLAIO, former IWT, (Innovation Mandates) and Innoviris (LAUNCH).

schematic overview of research funindg schemes

Basic Research or Fundamental Research
Strategic Basic Research
Applied Research
Industrial Research Fund (IOF)
Funding opportunities in EuropeSupport
EU Roadmap


Basic Research or Fundamental Research

Basic Research or Fundamental Research is carried out to increase understanding of fundamental principles. The main aim of this kind of research is not to create or invent something. In many cases the end results have no direct or immediate commercial benefits: fundamental research can be thought of as arising out of curiosity. However, in the long-term it can be the basis for many commercial products and applied research. At the University Association Brussels (UAB) this kind of research is typically funded by the “Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek/ FWO” (pre- and postdoctoral mandates, research projects, travel grants, visiting postdoctoral fellowships, scientific research networks,…), various academies, “Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid”,…

The research council of the VUB also decides upon internal financial support for fundamental research (“Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds/ BOF”). The researchers of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Erasmushogeschool Brussel can also apply for financial support for fundamental research from the “Bureau voor Onderzoek Associatie Brussel/BOAB”.

Strategic Basic Research

Strategic Basic Research is high-level basic research with an emphasis on risk, inventiveness and innovation. The strategic importance and the dimensions of the valorization perspectives on the mid-long term (3 to 10 years) of this kind of research are set out from the beginning. This kind of research is still generic; it doesn’t focus on one single industrial sector but has clear possible applications, of which a large group of possible end users recognizes the potential economic and/or societal value. This kind of research is often carried out by large consortia of research groups.

At the UAB, this kind of research is typically funded by the “Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen (VLAIO)” (strategic basic research, predoctoral grants) or the “Brussels Instituut voor Onderzoek en Innovatie (Innoviris)” or the “Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid”. In its most recent call for projects, VLAIO puts more stress on the importance of the valorization perspectives and the (active) involvement and/or (ongoing) interactions with economic and social stakeholders.

The researchers of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Erasmushogeschool Brussel can also apply for financial support from the “Industrieel Onderzoeksfonds/IOF” and BOAB. The EhB has special means at its disposal to introduce more research in the Master programmes (academisation). The UAB recommends consulting VUB TechTransfer when drafting project applications related to strategic basic research.

Applied Research

The primary purpose for Applied Research is to discover, to interpret and to develop methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge on a wide variety of scientific matters. There is a lot of competition between different players on the market; end users clearly steer this type of research. Collaboration with industrial partners is typical for this kind of research. At the UAB applied research is mainly funded by VLAIO and Innoviris. The EhB has special means at its disposal to reinforce research in Master programmes (academisation) and to introducemore practice-based research in professional Bachelor programmes (PWO).

Industrial Research Fund (IOF)

A special type of government funding gave rise to the Industrial Research Fund (“Industrieel Onderzoeksfonds/IOF”) in 2004. Trying to meet the overall academic demand for a more attractive and flexible research environment and more diverse types of researchers, this fund enables the development of a more devised long-term policy for strategic and applied research programmes at universities.

The Flemish universities receive funding according to their output performance, such as the amount of contracts with industry, publications, the share in the European Framework Programme for R&D, the number of patents and spin-offs.

Up till now, at the VUB the IOF is allocated to so-called 'cores' and 'growers', research units with potential for growth towards excellence. Characteristic for an IOF-core is that the lab clearly exceeds the average scale of a standard university’s research unit. IOF-groups are able to conceive a detailed long-term roadmap and vision and have strongly motivated how the extra IOF funding might contribute to their proprietary valorization strategy. Check out the IOF research groups here.

As from 2011, the IOF means will be allocated to projects for research groups and departments that exceed the average scale of a standard university’s research unit.  Groups applying for IOF-funding will have to be able to conceive an effective valorisation roadmap. The complementary IOF-funded personnel has to be able to realize the roadmap that is put forward. These groups have to prove their existing track-record in valorisation activities, as demonstrated by their revenues from industry/license revenues, patents and spin-offs. These research groups, departments or consortia receive a 3-year funding and are called ‘Group of Expertise in Applied Research (GEAR)'. Two types of GEAR-projects exist:

Level 1: budget of €150.000/year, for 3 years;
Level 2: budget of €75.000/year, for 3 years.

Since 2009, the Industrial Research Fund also funds proof-of-concept projects, e.g. research projects that are in the transition phase from proof-of-principle to proof-of-concept. All possible activities pursuing the acceleration of the valorization process can be financially supported by means of this ‘PoC-financing’ (such as prototype development, the collection of additional research results in order to properly prepare for a patent dossier, preclinical experiments, writing a business plan, hiring of consultants, market research and analysis). 

The coaching and support of mandates and projects financed by the IOF is the responsibility of the Technology Transfer Interface. All legal information about the industrial research fund can be found in the "Besluit van de Vlaamse Regering betreffende de ondersteuning van de Industriële Onderzoeksfondsen en de interfaceactiviteiten van de associaties in de Vlaamse Gemeenschap". Download the internal IOF-regulation here. Next to these general types of funding, special funds were created to support the purchase of research infrastructure (Hercules Fund), the return of Flemish scientists to Flanders (Odysseus), etc. For a complete overview of the funding possibilities, please visit the R&D website (see ‘research funding’ in the left navigation menu).

  Funding opportunities in Europe

Visit the new VUB EU-website for all information: https://www.vub-eu.com/
(see pdf for download below)


Support for EU research

Starting early and with a clear strategy to prepare an EU-proposal contributes to the success rate. Therefore, we work towards a concept to support you from project idea up to submission of proposal using a pre-defined plan with well defined timelines and supported by standard templates. We are currently ready to support you in this way in the following programmes:

  • H2020-ERC
  • H2020-MSCA-ITN
  • H2020-MSCA-IF

For additional information or if you have plans to prepare a proposal, please contact for ERC Nik Claesen (Nik.claesen@vub.ac.be) and for MSCA Philippe Westbroek (philippe.westbroek@vub.ac.be).

  EU Roadmap

The EU-roadmap (see pdf for download below) is a report in which calls for proposals, relevant for your research, are incorporated and positioned as a function of Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at the start and the end of the project and provided in a timeline. This report allows the research group to form an overview of the available relevant calls in Europe and to develop an EU-strategy in submitting proposals. If interested, or more information wanted? Take contact with philippe.westbroek@vub.ac.be.

To develop the EU-roadmap, we plan a meeting to get insight in your research, which forms the basis for the development of the EU-roadmap. Typically, the procedure between this first meeting and delivery of the EU-roadmap is 3-4 weeks. We can also guide you in developing a strategy and an action plan based on the EU-roadmap.

  Innoviris Connect

The aim of the INNOVIRIS CONNECT programme is to support VUB research groups financially in the preparation of an EU-proposal. INNOVIRIS covers 70% of the costs related to the preparation with a maximum of 10.000 euro as partner in and 25.000 euro as coordinator of an EU-proposal. Eligible in CONNECT are Research&Innovation and Innovation projects in the H2020- pillar Industrial Leadership and the H2020 pillar Societal Challenges, as well as for the JPIs Ambinet Assisted Living and Urban Europe. KTI provides storng support in the procedure to apply for and the preparation of the file. For more information and/or support, please contact our VUB TechTransfer EU-Liaison Officer:  philippe.westbroek@vub.ac.be.