Research Fund (BOF) - Various international initiatives

Exploratory European Co-operation - credit for international research projects

Procedures and submission dates

VES applications can be submitted at any time but at the latest 3 months before the international authority deadline. The application procedure is digital and is made through KU Loket.

Exceptionally, VES applications with regards to Horizon 2020 calls that have a deadline in March or April 2014, can be submitted until two months before the international authority deadline.


VES credits are intended to support multi-partner research initiatives in an international context, that lead to the submission of high quality project applications within the European Framework Programme (Horizon 2020) or other international research financing programmes.


The starting date for VES credits is 2 to 3 months before the official deadline of the international funding authorityThe allocated VES credit will be available for 2 years. Possible credit balances will flow back to the Special Research Fund (BOF).

Nature of funding

For whom ?

VES funding is intended to support researchers of KU Leuven who, in the main, meet the stipulations for all categories (see also section 1, General information) and who: are co-ordinator of an international multipartner research project application. This concerns multi-partner projects that come under European funding programmes Horizon 2020, ERA-Net calls, Joint Programming Initiatives, Joint Technology Initiatives, FET Flagship calls, ESF, ESA, DG Health, DG Justice, EIT, … and programmes outside of Europe such as NIH, NSF, …

For what?

A VES credit amounts to a maximum of €15,000 (in case of an evaluation procedure in two steps: the VES credit amounts to €8,000 during the first phase and €7,000 if the project is allowed for the second phase).

What for?

Any allocated VES funding must be used to ensure the preparation of a high quality file for an international funding authority.

The allocated VES funding can be used for, a.o.:

  • travel and accommodation expenses for setting up the consortium;
  • the organization of consortium meetings or participation in meetings for networking;
  • temporary funding of a KU Leuven researcher/employee for drawing up the application file; 
  • operating costs, e.g. for the involvement of an external consultant for reviewing the application file; 
  • expenses incurred through negotiations during the contract negotiation period.
Application and allocation procedures

Allocation of VES-funding is based on the following conditions:

  • The final project application that is submitted must comply with the admissibility of the international authority. If the multipartner project is eventualy not submitted or is not admissible, the allocated VES budget will be recovered. The feedback, given by the financier, concerning the application needs to be sent to the Research Co-ordination Office;
  • Only KU Leuven researchers who are able to demonstrate upon VES-application that they are capable of acquiring peer reviewed projects qualify for VES;
  • The research unit must apply to the international financier for a minimum of €300,000  which is intended for KU Leuven (with the exception of project applications within the framework of the ERA-Nets or Joint Programming Initiatives for which the national financier provides only €200,000);
  • Only one VES credit can be allocated per research group for each long-term working programma of Horizon 2020 or once in two years for other programmes. Cumulation with an IOF Leverage project for European collaboration is not possible.
  • There can be no overlap in time of two VES funding schemes per (co-) promoter.
  • In case of an evaluation procedure in two steps, the applicants have to send the evidence of being selected for the second round to the Research Co-ordination Office before they can have the second portion of the allocated budget.

The number of awarded projects may be limited due to budgetary restrictions.

Selection procedure
  • VES applications will be presented for evaluation to the EU-team of the Research Co-ordination Office (DOC) and KU Leuven Research and Development (LRD) on the basis of the above-mentioned allocation procedures.
  • The EU team can consult the Chair of the Research Council in case the applicants in the past did already submit several VES applications (or former VIS applications), and in case there is uncertainty concerning the compatibility of the application with the stipulations of the international funding programme. The Chair of the Research Council will decide on the actual awarding (possibly supported by the Research Council Board).
  • In case of funding, sufficient budgetary space is needed.
Application submission

VES applications (see also the application form) consist of the data of the international call (website, deadine, topic, etc.), a short abstract (max. 2000 characters) about the international project proposal with the expected impact as well as an indicative list of partners, indicating each type of partner (company, university, etc.).


As much as possible, handling the files (selection and reporting on the awarded projects) will happen in the first week of each calender month. Applicants will receive written confirmation about the decision, stating whether or not the VES credit will be allocated.


Reporting is not necessary, but the Research Co-ordination Office must receive the final European project application, as well as the subsequent evaluation report of the European funding authority.

International co-operation projects (ISP)

The projects that can be applied for follow new rules which are based on bilateral agreements between KU Leuven and international universities. These agreements have been made specifically for the intended international co-operation. 

Co-operations within the framework of the ‘China Fund’ KU Leuven (ISP-China)

Participating Chinese universities and annual budgets available for co-operation with each partner:

  • Tsinghua University, Beijing, max. 150 k€/year
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University, max. Shanghai 50 k€/year
  • East China Normal University, max. Shanghai 50 k€/year
Procedure and timetable
  • Launch: June 2013
  • Submission deadline: 1 October 2013
  • Evaluation by both partners: October - December 2013
  • Final Selection: January 2014
  • Starting date for projects: 1 February 2014

The goal of this initiative is to establish new and to strengthen existing bilateral relations between KU Leuven and Chinese Universities in all fields of research in order to encourage cooperation activities in a wide range of research areas and to contribute to the mutual understanding and development of these relationships.
The aim is to fund research activities that involve both researchers from KU Leuven and from a partner university in China and, as a result, to set up and prepare joint research proposals for international funding. The programme should be considered as 'seed money' and is intended as leverage for international programmes.
The main objectives of this bilateral co-operation are:  

  • to develop a sustainable research co-operation between KU Leuven and the participating universities;
  • to provide a platform for obtaining international funding from other organizations, such as EU (Horizon 2020), FWO (bilateral program with China) and MOST (EU-China),… ;        
  • to create added value for the research at the universities involved;    
  • to stimulate the exchange of researchers.

The approved budget can amount up to 12.500 euros per project and will be granted by KU Leuven. The budget  mainly covers the travelling expenses of KU Leuven researchers when travelling to China in the framework of a selected project and through covering the subsistence costs of the Chinese researchers during their stay in Leuven.
The participating universities in China will provide co-funding, mainly through covering travelling expenses of their researchers when travelling to Leuven in the framework of a selected project and through covering the subsistence cost of the KU Leuven researchers during their stay at the university involved.


The duration of the research projects can be one or two years.


Selection criteria

  • A proposal must meet the internationally accepted standards of high scientific quality.
  • Leverage of the proposal in order to acquire other (inter-)national funding.
  • A proposal must be of the kind that joint publications and doctorates at the KU Leuven may be expected.
  • Requested budget in relation with the proposed research activities.
  • If it concerns a re-application, the results of the former one, will be included in the review process.

Selection procedure
A list of submitted proposals is exchanged between the administrations to check whether proposals have been submitted in both universities. If a proposal has been submitted only in one university, it is not eligible.

The proposals are evaluated both at the KU Leuven and the Partner University, and they are ranked according to their priority for funding.
The projects that applied for funding will be preselected by:    

  • The Executive Body of the KU Leuven Research Council, presided by the chair of the Research Council.
  • The relevant office of Tsinghua University, presided by the relevant officer    
  • The relevant office of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, presided by the relevant officer
  • The relevant office of East China Normal University, presided by the relevant officer

The final selection of the proposals to be funded will take place in mutual consent between the universities involved.

  • The research proposal must be submitted by at least one KU Leuven researcher and at least one researcher from the Partner University.
  • For the KU Leuven researchers the rules mentioned in the BOF-guidelines to act as a principal investigator (PI) or co-investigator (Co-I) are applicable (see part 1 of these guidelines or ).
  • The KU Leuven and Chinese applicants must use a jointly designed application form.
  • In order to be eligible, the proposal must jointly and simultaneously be submitted to the local administration in Leuven and the Chinese University involved.
  • Cofunding by the participating universities in China is guarenteed.

The DOC is prepared to communicate the Research Council’s decision subject to confirmation. The applicants will receive a letter as soon as possible following the official decision. A negative decision will always be motivated.


All grantees are expected to submit a report at the end of the project. This report must contain a brief description of research activities and results, as well as a list of publications resulting from the completed research term. This list must be downloaded from Lirias.


For administration and management (including launching calls, providing further details, awaiting applications and informing applicants about the outcome of the selection procedure):

Co-operations with Latin-American universities (ISP-Latin America)

In 2013 there was a call in co-operation with 5 Latin American universities: Universidad de Chile (Santiago, Chile); Universidade Estadual Paulista 'Júlio de Mesquita Filho' (UNESP, Brazil); Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM, Mexico); Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP, Argentina); Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (Argentina).

The next call depends upon an evaluation and will be published later on, if evaluated possitively. We do advice to follow the news coverage on this subject.