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Funding options

Getting a doctorate involves doing research either in a team or within a broader network of researchers. Doctoral researchers are either awarded grants or paid salaries. 

Expenses linked to doctoral research (running costs, equipment use) are usually covered by the department or research group. Additional funds are sometimes available for one-off expenses, for example for participating in conferences or seminars, or for spending time researching abroad.

Research funding

There are a number of different types of funding for research, which we can split into two main categories: public funding, and private funding, with the latter most often funded by industry.

Public funding, in Belgium, comes from different funding bodies. The Belgian Science Policy Office encourages collaboration between the universities in the north and those in the south of the country, via "pôles d'attraction interuniversitaires" (inter-university hubs). The "Communauté française" (ARC and "Fonds spécial de recherche" (FSR)) funds research that is considered "fundamental or targeted". So do the F.R.S.-FNRS, the "régions" (Wallonie and Bruxelles-Capitale) who are also involved in applied research that facilitates collaboration between universities, research centres and industry. The European Union, via research and development Framework Programmes or Structural Funds, funds large-scale partnership projects, some of which are cross-border projects (Horizon 2020).

The funding can either be allocated to an individual researcher (called a "Researcher Mandate"), or it can be allocated to a project, after which it is split out into staffing costs, equipment costs and/or running costs.

Funding "mandates"

There is provision for funding Research Mandates at level of the "Communautés" (Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles), as well as at the level of the "Région Bruxelles Capitale".

"Communauté" funding

  • F.R.S.-FNRS Mandates and associated funds (Télévie, FRIA, and FRESH grants);
  • “University”-FSR Mandates (Consult your own university's website)  
  • Research assistantship posts, where you combine part-time doctoral research and part-time teaching. There are openings for posts like this every year in all universities.
  • These websites list job openings in the following universities:

Wallonian funding

FIRST programmes:

"Région de Bruxelles Capitale" funding

  • The Doctiris programme works to encourage University-Industry Partnerships in the "Région de Bruxelles-Capitale".
  • The aim of the Attract programme is to encourage researchers to carry out their research in Brussels.

Project funding

You can apply for grants for research projects at the following levels:

"Communautaire" funding 

  • F.R.S.-FNRS et Fonds associés: there are a number of different strands to this funding (CDR, PDR, EQT, MIS, IISN and Télévie)
  • "Fonds Spéciaux de la Recherche"
  • ARC

"Fédéral" funding

"Régional" funding - Wallonia

Research project funding within universities and “hautes écoles” aims to improve scientific and technological outputs in a targeted way so as to contribute to Wallonia’s social and economic development. 

They can get support as part of the following programmes:

"Régional" funding - Bruxelles Capitale

  • There is project support from the Anticipate programme, run by forward-looking Belgian or foreign researchers working in disciplines that are considered essential for the Région de Bruxelles-Capitale.
  • Launch supports the development of new companies (spin-offs) in the Région de Bruxelles-Capitale so as to highlight the economic value of the outputs of scientific research.
  • The Doctiris programme works to encourage University-Industry Partnerships in the Région de Bruxelles-Capitale.
  • The Bridge programme aims, via “strategic platforms”, to support projects that put a particular emphasis on the industrial applications of research for companies in Brussels.
  • Through the Co-create programme, Innoviris aims to bring the inhabitants of Brussels, the world of research and innovation, and the world of business, closer together.
  • The goal of the Connect programme is to fund stakeholders in Brussels that are working on European Research, Development and Innovation projects.
  • The Attract programme encourages researchers to carry out their research in Brussels.

European funding

Ministerial funding schemes

These grants are awarded by ministers, and fund scientific, fundamental or applied research programmes. The themes and scope of these research programmes are defined by ministers from all three of the government levels ("fédérale", "communautaire" and "régionale"), according to what they would like to see carried out. The budgets that are made available through this funding scheme vary significantly from one government department to another.

Other sources of funding

Check university websites or the websites of other funding bodies to get more information about other sources of funding.

Essential links

Some other sources of funding allow you to fund your research in a more sporadic or a more targeted way.

To find out all the funding options available, refer to the website of the university that you would like to study at:

"Régional" and "Communautaire" websites:

Funding research trips, conferences, or research abroad

  • The FNRS offers a range of funding options designed to encourage mobility for researchers - see this page of their website: "Possibilités de financement"/"coopération scientifique". These grants are not only for the FNRS cohort/FNRS affiliated researchers; they are available to all researchers.
  • Some universities also provide grants from their own endowments, only for members of that university or researchers that are affiliated in some way to the university in question;
  • The "Ministère de la Communauté Française de Belgique" can help with costs that are not covered by the university’s endowment or by the FNRS;
  • Some of the agreements made by the "Commissariat Général aux Relations Internationales du WBI (Wallonie-Bruxelles Internationnal)" also provide travel grants; 
  • Other sources of funding for research abroad, or for attending conferences, are available under the European Union’s Marie Curie programmes.


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