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7.4Infrastructure and financing channels within the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO)
By Caroline Volckaert (Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO)
In the international competition for knowledge and talent, the building blocks of the knowledge economy, the availability of high-performance research infrastructure is increasingly becoming a critical success factor. Excellent research is only possible with excellent research infrastructure.
Research infrastructure is therefore broadly defined as comprising ‘all facilities and sources that promote the performance of frontier and strategic basic research across all scientific disciplines’. Besides scientific infrastructure, this includes collections, natural habitats, corpora and databases (including digital opening up). They may be single-sited, distributed, or virtual.
The financing of research infrastructure is aimed at strengthening research and innovation in Flanders by improving cooperation between the various players. For Flanders, it is crucial that its knowledge institutions have access to infrastructure with an international reference. This is a prerequisite to get (or remain) at the top and it attracts researchers and companies.
The Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO) provides two financing channels for research infrastructure: the funding of medium and large-scale infrastructure that is located in Flanders and the selection and funding of the Flemish participation in international infrastructures (such as European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)).