Belgium

A schematic overview of the main actors, programmes and governance structure for alignment of national research.

 

Funding in the scope of JPI HDHL

The Belgian research system is highly decentralised, with responsibilities for research policy and funding assigned to the regions and the communities. Several regional governments carry out these tasks with complete autonomy as follows:

  • Regions (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels-Capital: responsible for research related to economic development purposes (technological development and applied research)
  • Communities (Flemish-, French- and German-speaking): responsible for education and fundamental research. However, due to its small size, the German-speaking community does not have a research policy
  • Federal state: responsible for research areas requiring homogenous execution at the national level and research in execution of international agreements
  • Own research programmes: some research institutions have their own research programmes, whose resources can be autonomously assigned (for example, University BOF grants)

Funding organisations

FEDERAL

BELSPO is active in the H2020 - Bio Economy pillar with one of the topics concerning a Sustainable and competitive agri-food sector for a safe and healthy diet. BELSPO has funded among others in their 'science for a sustainable development' (SDD) programme projects in the past within the scope of JPI HDHL.

REGIONAL

Flanders:

FWO (Scientific Research Foundation – Flanders) supports fundamental research in all areas of scientific domains. FWO is participating in the JPI HDHL and in the last years it has provided funding for the current joint actions DEDIPAC, BIOMARKERS and ENPADASI.

IWT (agency for Innovation by Science and Technology) supports applied and strategic basic research in all areas of science fields oriented towards economic valorization. It has funded many research projects concerning a more healthy food (e.g. reduced salts, sugar replacement, ...) and 'Food for focus groups' via Flanders' FOOD research calls. Flanders' FOOD is the Flemish centre of excellence for food manufacturing. Furthermore, IWT has shown interest in the upcoming joint actions 'Food Models and Food Processing' and 'Malnutrition' of JPI HDHL.

Wallonia-Brussels Federation:

FNRS (Fund for Scientific Research, French-speaking Community) also supports fundamental research in all areas of scientific domains. FNRS has participated in the ENPADASI joint action as well as in the Malnutrition in the Elderly Joint Action and is interested in the other upcoming joint actions calls.

National Grant Programmes

  • Apart from the Flemish funding organisations FWO and IWT and the research funding by RPOs themselves, there is no national grant programme
  • FWO and FNRS use their programme 'research projects' for its participation in JPI and ERA-Net
  • There is a dedicated budget for funding for food-industry related topics within the innovation platform Flanders' FOOD. This projects align with programmes of IWT. No other dedicated programmes for food and health are established
  • IWT has different type of grant programmes. The Programmes with the most potential (in terms of budget availability) are the industry research projects (applicant is an enterprise, RPO's or other organisations are subcontractor of that enterprise). Other programmes that can be 'used' are collective research (VIS trajects and LA-trajects), with benefits for a group of companies (For VIS projects the applicant is an association of enterprises, for LA-projects the applicant is an RPO). Subsidy percentages varies from 90% (LA), over 80% (VIS and some collaborative projects for industry with SME involvement) towards 25% (prototype research from a single company).

Governance structure for alignment of national research programs

  • European and other international cooperation between Flemish research funding and performing organisations and the Flemish Department of Research and Innovation convene regularly in a Europe Platform. There also the policy regarding the involvement in the JPIs is discussed.
  • Actors involved in research funding from the Walloon Region and Wallonia-Brussels Federation convene regularly in a the 'Contact Group for International research'.
  • At the Belgian level, a concertation meeting (CIS) between different actors involved in research funding and programming is organised according to the pillars and challenges of the H2020 Programme.
  • IWT, FWO and FNRS are active in several ERA-Net projects, and FWO and FNRS in several JAs of JPIs.

Participation in the JPI HDHL activities

In the current two JPI HDHL Knowledge Hubs, several Belgian research institutes have been involved.

Several institutes as University Ghent (with prof. Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij as Leader of the theme 'Evaluation and benchmarking of public health and policy interventions aimed at improving dietary, physical activity and sedentary behaviours') is participating in DEDIPAC.

In ENPADASI, many Belgian research institutes with Prof. Stefaan De Henauw and Prof. Carl Lachat (both from University Ghent) as coordinators of two Flemish consortia, are participating.

In the Joint Action Biomarkers in Nutrition and Health, University Ghent and ILSI Europe are participating as Belgian partners.

Interesting activities in the domains of JPI HDHL

At January 22, 2015, an interesting international Symposium on Nutrition and Health with theme 'Let the food be the medicine' was organized and coordinated by the Public Health Department (coordinator Prof. De Henauw) of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Ghent. The objective of this event was stimulating nutrition research and inauguration of the Nutrition & Health platform.