Special Research Fund (BOF) - CREDO projects

CREDO projects underline the importance of continued research funding as a basis for quality and innovation. Research units whose research results are of high to very high quality qualify, as do starting independent researchers who are expected to forge their own careers. When selecting CREDO project applications, a lot of store is therefore set by the group of applicants’ recent record of research achievements (the last five to ten years), alongside the importance of innovative and essentially scientific aspects. To explicitly open up CREDO funding to starting independent researchers, the phase the applicant’s scientific career finds itself in is taken into careful consideration when judging research accomplishments.

In principle, individuals can only participate in one CREDO type funding at any one time, either as supervisor or co-supervisor. If an application is rejected, a Special Grant (TBA) (Toelage van Bijzonder Aard) (see 2.5.) of maximum two years is another option. Acting as supervisor/co-supervisor of a CREDO project (or an IDO type SPERO project, see 3.2 et al.) gives individuals the possibility to apply for certain BOF funds: related fellowships (F+, see 5.6) and possibly also exploratory European co-operation (VES, see 4.1).

Methusalem

Each year the Flemish Government grants a subsidy for long term financing of a restricted number of excellent senior staff members. After evaluation by a panel of international experts Methusalem financing is granted until retirement. Its continuation depends on a septennial evaluation by a international experts panel.

At this moment, there are 10 Methusalems at KU Leuven, of which 4 started on October 1st, 2007, 3 on October 1st, 2008 and 3 on October 1st, 2009. See also: http://www.kuleuven.be/onderzoek/kernprojecten/methusalem/

Concerted research actions (GOA) (Geconcerteerde Onderzoeksacties)

Procedure and submission dates
  • Most applications are filed online on the research website and via KU Loket (KU  Portal):
  • All applicants inquire with christel.adriaensen@doc.kuleuven.be in the course of April 2013 to find out whether or not a preliminary interview is needed. This interview must take place by mid-June 2013 at the latest.
  • All applicants must make a declaration of intent by 18th June 2013 at 17hrs at the latest.
  • A complete application must be made by 19th September 2013 at 17hrs at the latest.
  • The electronic declaration of intent form can be found on GeDOC online on the research website. The form can be found right under the title of this category.
  • There will be a site visit by a Research Council committee in October or November.
  • The matter will be reviewed by the Research Council in December 2013.
  • Soon after the decision has been made and definitely before the Christmas holidays a personal discussion with the applicants will follow, to provide feedback and - where relevant - to discuss the budget.

See also General Information which applies to all categories.

Concept

Concerted Research Actions (GOAs) are meant for internationally competitive research; allocation is done on the basis of international excellence and recognition. GOA funds are given to support research units whose past research has reaped outstanding scientific results and that, on the basis of those results, wish to continue high quality research and also link innovative research to it.

Alongside those high quality demands, the following elements are also judged very important:

  • Co-operative networks that benefit the research are encouraged, while splitting up groups is discouraged. A larger group is greatly appreciated.
  • The applicants’ track record is important in the sense that each partner’s specific expertise and contribution are essential in forging a strong group of applicants. In that sense the co-operative aspect overrides each partner’s individual strength and a partner's added benefit may reside in both his ‘experience’ and ‘potential’. To, more specifically, encourage co-operation with starting independent researchers, the track record will always be assessed in relation to the phase in which each individual applicant’s career finds itself. In the same vein, a bonus will be added to the allocated budget for co-operation with co-supervisors who are Tenure Track lecturers and the other independent researchers in a similar situation.

Conditions
  • The group of applicants consists of at least 3 researchers having a profile similar to that of the supervisorand being full time at KU Leuven .

  • In the main, supervisor and co-supervisors meet the directives under 10.1. General Information.

  • When funds are drawn via a strategic research centre (SOC – such as VIB, IBBT or IMEC), Programme funding, Odysseus type 1 or Methusalem, separate conditions of application apply. In that case a preliminary interview must be had with the Vice-Rector for Research and the Chair of the Research Council and, at a later stage, a specific request must be made in the letter to the Research Council Board. All requests are dealt with individually, the rule of thumb being that co-operation is essential to the research conducted within the GOA and that it adds special value to the research in general. Always bearing in mind that CREDO funding too has its own limits.

  • At least half the members of the group of applicants must consist of (co-)supervisors who do not draw any funds from a SOC.

  • Each (co-)supervisor can only be involved in one GOA project; individuals cannot be involved in a new application if they already belong to an ongoing GOA that is not yet in its fourth year. To stimulate co-operation, (co-)supervisors of an ongoing GOA may ask at the preliminary interview to be allowed to co-supervise a new application with limited (or no) funding. The proposed new co-operation must have special added value. In exceptional cases a co-supervisor of an ongoing GOA may be given permission to supervise a new application.
Duration

GOAs span five years.

Amount

A distinction is made between a basic amount and possible bonuses and penalties.
The granted basic amount reflects to what extent the selection criteria have been met (see further) and varies between €900,000 and €1,600,000.

On top of that a number of bonuses may be allocated on the basis of the following elements:

  • the size and the composition of the group of applicants (number of independent researchers, collaborating post docs and doctoral students involved);
  • number of (co-)supervisors who are Tenure Track professors or other independent researchers in a similar situation;
  • the size of the group for whom equipment for joint use is purchased.

The minimal figure that may thus be allocated (including possible adjustments because of ongoing projects) amounts to €800,000 for 5 yearsThe maximum amount (including bonuses) can reach up to €2,000,000 for 5 years.
Applicants are expected to try and maintain the balance between the described project and the budget requested within the framework of the GOA (or must clearly indicate which other resources will be available if the project exceeds the possible funding).

Nature of funding

Of the total budget allocated to a specific GOA at least the equivalent of three doctoral student grant years must be spent on staff expenses per annum (i.e. approximately €105,000 per annum). To boot, the equivalent of 20% of that minimal staff budget must be reserved for operating costs (i.e. about €21, 000 per annum). Staff resources are meant for scientific and technical staff. Both doctoral and postdoctoral grant fellowships are possible with a preference for doctoral ones; researchers who do not have a doctorate yet and who are funded through a GOA are expected to obtain a doctorate. Upon motivated application minimum one full-time administrative staff member may be recruited. The motivation must indicate the direct importance for the research. Research managers, research experts and industrial research managers cannot be financed with BOF funding

Application
Preliminary Interview

Each supervisor wishing to file an application must contact the cell ”BOF, Process management and Organisation” of the Research Co-ordination Office in April 2013 with a list detailing who forms part of the group of applicants. If necessary a preliminary interview will be held with the chair of the Research Council and the Vice-Rector for Research.

Declaration of intent

All applicants are expected to file a declaration of intent with a brief description of both the planned research and of the group of applicants (supervisor and co-supervisors).  If a departure from the ‘conditions’ is applied for, this must be motivated in the application. The Research Council Board decides on the basis of the information in the declaration of intent on whether or not the application is admissible on formal grounds (see conditions).

Application

The application contains the following elements (see also the digital application form):

  • a description in English (maximum two pages) of the project’s content;
  • curriculum vitae of the applicants;
  • a list of minimum 15 foreign referees who are not linked to a Belgian university, each time listing a number of publications showing the referee’s expertise. The (co-)supervisors, postdocs or doctoral students involved must have no conflict of interest or collaboration with the referees, nor must there have been any co-publications in the last five years (exceptions to this rule may be motivated). All referees must be employed in scientific institutes that provide sufficient geographic distribution. In principle, postdocs cannot referee.
    It is explicitely stated that these external experts may not be contacted by the applicants.
  • a motivated list with unwanted referees may also be added (forbidden referees).
  • project and placing within a research programme (the role of involved experts who are no co-supervisor must be made explicit in the project description);
  • involved researchers and active types of co-operation inside and outside the KU Leuven Association;
  • the budget requested;
  • joint list of publications as found in Lirias;
  • letters of commitment through which researchers or research groups, that are not part of the applicant group but will contribute substantially to the project, declare themselves willing to deliver or put expertise or equipment at the applicant group’s disposal.
  • if applicable: a report of the previous GOA/OT/START
Site visit

Applicants will receive a visit from a committee of Research Council members. In the course of this site visit, information will be given about: (a) the project, (b) the composition and placing of the group of applicants including postdocs and doctoral students (c) the available funds, (d) the available infrastructure, (e) possible problems. There will also be room for discussion and, possibly, a guided tour.

Selection

The main selection criteria are:

  1. Quality, innovative aspects and the importance of the project.
  2. Approach and methodology.
  3. The track record and added benefit of each applicant’s specific contribution: the group of applicants’ impact within the field and their international position. Previous achievements and international reputation are also assessed on the basis of elements in the BOF key, i.e. bibliometric indicators (field specific impact and citations – on the basis of data as found in Lirias) and number of doctorates, depending on the discipline. For young, newly appointed Senior Academic Staff (ZAP) members the scientific career phase is explicitly taken into consideration. Regarding publications and citations, the ‘trajectory’ is also taken into consideration.
  4. Obtained external (large scale) funding (Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), EU, Steunpunten, SBO, …)

Other criteria are:

  1. The application must be sufficiently coherent and the co-operation sufficiently credible, although a certain degree of dissimilarity in the application is acceptable.
  2. International co-operation projects.
  3. Previously allocated BOF funding and how it was assessed is also taken into consideration.

The project is not assessed on the basis of the site visit, but information and clarifications obtained at the site visit, may prove useful when the matter is reviewed by the Research Council.

The applications are reviewed both by the Research Council Board and by the Research Council. This is done on the basis of the above criteria and on the basis of assessments by the foreign referees and members of the Research Council. The review will yield a final assessment and funding decision. The available BOF budget is always taken into consideration.
The Research Council may advise against a GOA, but in favour of a Special Fund (TBA)(Toelage van Bijzondere Aard) or a Research Project (OT) (Onderzoekstoelage) instead, for which no new application must be made.

The list of funded GOAs can be found through geDOC online – Section Onderzoeksfonds - evaluatie
Feedback

Soon after the Research Council meeting, the applicants will be invited for an interview at which the outcome of their application will be motivated (pending ratification by the Academic Council and the Research Council). If approved, the allocated budget might be discussed. Applicants will be informed about the official decision in writing. Each supervisor will also be sent the evaluators’ comments, except those passages that might reveal the evaluators’ identity.

Reporting

Reports must be filed at the end of the second and fifth years. If a new application is made, this second report must be available when the new GOA is assessed and complemented at the end of the fifth year.

The report has two parts:

  1. Part I: scientific progress of the GOA research;
  2. Part II: scientific output of the project up to the time of reporting (list of publications, doctorates - both in progress and completed).

The DOC may supplement the report with a financial SAP report before presenting it to the evaluator(s)

Once a GOA has been allocated, further instructions about the expected reports will be sent. Guidelines for reporting can also be found on url.: www.kuleuven.be/BOFformulieren.

Research Project (OT) (Onderzoekstoelagen)

Procedure and submission dates

 

Optional steps in the procedure:

  • Applicants that have certain questions or that want extra information concerning the admissibility, the focus, the nature of OT (and IDO) projects, and the procedures are welcome to an open information session on September 12th, 2013.
  • If desirable, a private preliminary interview with the Chair of the Research Council and with the Vice-Rector for Research can be requested by September 13th, 2013 at the latest by sending an e-mail to christel.adriaensen@doc.kuleuven.be. This interview ill take place by October 10th, 2013 at the latest.

Obligatory steps in the procedure run through the research website and KU Loket (KUPortal):

  • All applicants (even when they reapply) must file a declaration of intent by 15th October 2013 at 17hrs at the latest.
  • The electronic application form for the declaration of intent will be made available via geDOC online on the research website. The form can be found right under the title of this category. The decision on formal admissibility of the application will be communicated in early December 2013.
  • After positive feedback, a pre-application must be made by 16th January 2014 at 17hrs at the latest.
  • The full application must be handed in by 31st January 2014 at 17hrs at the latest.

The applicants come to the Research Co-ordination Office (DOC) to present their project to a number of Reseach Council members in February/March 2014. The Research Council will review the matter at the end of April 2014.
The decision will be followed by a personal discussion with the applicants to provide feedback and - where relevant - to discuss the budget.
Granted projects will start on October 1st.

General information which applies to all categories.

Concept

Research projects (OTs) are reserved for outstanding research. OT funding supports the development of new research directions or consolidates internationally competitive research equal to a GOA level, but for which an OT has the right scale.

When assessing applications, outstanding scientific results on the basis of past research will be taken into consideration, albeit in relation to the applicant’s career. For Tenure Track lecturers or researchers in a similar position this means that outstanding results prior to their appointment are taken into consideration as well as the potential as it comes to future output in the application’s field or possible growth of the international profile.

Duration

The duration is four years.

Amount

The minimal budget that may be allocated amounts to €200,000 for 4 years. The maximum amount can reach up to €620,000 for 4 years. The allocated budget consists of a basic amount, which reflects to what extent the selection criteria (see below) have been met, supplemented with possible boni.

A bonus may be allocated for:

  • the size of the group of applicants (number of Senior Academic Staff members);
  • number of (co-)supervisors who are Tenure Track lecturers or other independent researchers in a similar situation.

Last year the average allocated budget for each project was €256,000, with an average of 1.3 Senior Academic Staff members.

Nature of funding

The funding is mainly to go to staff expenses and operating costs. Regarding said staff, both doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships qualify, but preference is given to doctoral ones. Researchers who do not have a doctorate yet and who are funded via an OT are expected to obtain a doctorate via this route. A motivated request may be made to also employ Administrative and Technical Staff with a research function if the type of research justifies it. In principle, major pieces of equipment are not funded. Research managers, research experts and industrial research managers cannot be financed with BOF funding.

Conditions
  • In the main, supervisor and co-supervisors meet the directives under General Information.
  • When funds are obtained via Programme funding, Odysseus type 1 or Methusalem, separate conditions of application apply. In that case, the question must be put to the Research Council Board via the declaration of intent. All requests are dealt with individually, the rules of thumb being that co-operation is essential to the research conducted within the OT and that it adds special value to the research in general. Neither must the concentration of CREDO funding stray beyond certain boundaries.
  • When funds are drawn via a strategic research centre (SOC – such as VIB, iMINDs etc.), one can apply but at least half the members of the group of applicants must consist of (co-)supervisors who do not draw any funds from a SOC.
  • Supervisors or co-supervisors can only file an application provided there is no time overlap with a previously allocated OT/START1 or GOA, in other words three full years must have passed after 1st October of the year of allocation of the previous OT/START1 and four years after the starting date of a previously allocated GOA.
  • To stimulate co-operation, supervisors of an ongoing OT/START1 or GOA may ask permission for co-supervisorship of a new application, with limited (or no) funding for the co-supervisor in question, in the declaration of intent. The proposed new co-operation must have special added value. In exceptional cases a co-supervisor of an ongoing OT or GOA may be allowed to act as supervisor of a new application.
Application
Declaration of intent

All applicants are expected to send in a declaration of intent with a brief description of the planned research and the group of applicants (supervisor and optional co-supervisors). If a departure from the rules is requested, the declaration of intent must motivate this. The Research Council Board decides on the basis of the information in the declaration of intent whether or not the application is admissible on formal grounds (see conditions).  The board may also advise the applicants on the basis of scientific elements.

Pre-application

This contains the following elements (see also the digital application form):

  • a summary in English (maximum two pages) of the project’s content;
  • curriculum vitae of the applicants;
  • a list of foreign referees who are not linked to a Belgian university each time listing a number of publications placing the referee’s expertise. The (co-)supervisors involved must have no conflict of interest or collaboration with the referees, nor must there have been any co-publications in the last five years (exceptions to this rule may be motivated). All referees have to come from scientific institutes that provide sufficient geographic distribution.       
    It is explicitely stated that these external experts may not be contacted by the applicants.
  • A motivated list with unwanted referees may also be added (forbidden referees).
Actual Application

This contains the following elements (see also the digital application form):

  • project and placing within a research programme (the role of involved experts who are no co-supervisor must be made explicit in the project description);
  • active types of co-operation inside and outside KU Leuven;
  • the budget requested;
  • a list of publications as found in Lirias;
  • if applicable: a report of the previous OT/START1;
  • letters of commitment through which researchers or research groups, that are not part of the applicant group but will contribute substantially to the project, declare themselves willing to deliver or put expertise or equipment at the applicant group’s disposal.

Presentation of the research

Applicants present their application to a number of Research Council members. The presentation focuses on: (a) the project, (b) the composition and placing of the research group, (c) the situation for doctoral students inside the group, (d) the available funding (e) the available infrastructure, (f) possible problems.

Selection

The main selection criteria are:

  • Quality, innovative aspects and the importance of the project.
  • Approach and methodology.
  • The track record and added benefit of each applicant’s specific contribution: the group of applicants’ impact within the field and their international position. Previous achievements and international reputation are also assessed on the basis of elements in the BOF key, i.e. bibliometric indicators (field specific impact and citations – on the basis of data as found in Lirias) and number of doctorates, depending on the discipline. For young, newly appointed Senior Academic Staff (ZAP) members the scientific career phase is explicitly taken into consideration. Regarding publications and citations, the ‘trajectory’ is also taken into consideration.
  • Obtained external funding (Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), EU, SBO, Steunpunten, …)

Other criteria are:

  • The application must be sufficiently coherent and the co-operation sufficiently credible, although a certain degree of dissimilarity in the application is acceptable.
  • International co-operation.

Previously allocated BOF funding and how it was assessed is also taken into consideration. The project is not assessed on the basis of the presentation, but information and clarifications obtained during the presentation may prove useful when the matter is reviewed by the Research Council.

Applications are reviewed both by the Research Council Board and by the Research Council. This is done on the basis of the above criteria and on the basis of the assessments by the foreign referees and members of the Research Council. The review will yield a final assessment and funding decision. The available BOF budget is always taken into consideration.

The Research Council may advise against an OT, but in favour of a Special Fund (TBA) (Toelage van Bijzondere Aard), for which no new application must be made.

The list of funded OTs can be found through geDOC online – Section Onderzoeksfonds – Evaluatie.

Feedback

Soon after the Research Council meeting, applicants whose request for funding was turned down will be invited for an interview, where the outcome of their application will be motivated (pending ratification by the Academic Council and the Research Council). All applicants will be notified in writing about the official decision as soon as possible. The supervisor of each application will also be sent the evaluators’ comments, except those passages that might reveal the evaluators’ identity.

Reporting

Two reports must be filed: at the end of the second and fourth years. If a new application is made, this second report must be available when the new application is examined, and complemented at the end of the fourth year.

The report has two parts:

  • Part I: scientific progress of the OT research;
  • Part II: scientific output of the project at the time of reporting (list of publications, doctorates - both in progress and completed).

The DOC may supplement the report with a financial SAP report before presenting it to the evaluator(s).

Once an OT has been allocated, further instructions about the expected reports will be sent. Guidelines for reporting can also be consulted on url.: www.kuleuven.be/BOFformulieren.

START Projects

  • In years when no calls for Odysseus proposals are made, group boards may invite one or more candidates to apply for a START project.
  • A call for Odysseus proposals will be possibly made during the academic year 2013-2014.

Special research projects (TBA) (Toelagen van Bijzondere AARD)

The Research Council may advise to fund certain GOA/OT applications by means of a Special Research Project (TBA) for maximum two years, by way of impetus or to tide the applicants over towards a new GOA/OT application. Depending on the case, applicants are expected to make a new GOA/OT application which, if granted, may tie in with the TBA funding. Said application doubles up as the TBA report. There is no direct application procedure for a TBA.