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VUB among top fundraisers in Horizon Europe: "We owe it to our strong, entrepreneurial researchers"


VUB, alongside KU Leuven and UGent, ranks in the top 20 in acquiring EU funding under the Horizon Europe framework. "Flanders has brains, that's what we possess", says VUB vice-rector for Innovation & Valorisation Hugo Thienpont in an interview with VUB News in the prospect of the Flanders Technology & Innovation festival, which runs from 15-22 March.

VUB: "To whom does VUB owe this achievement?"

Prof. Thienpont: "Primarily to its researchers. We, as vice-rectors, have implemented the strategy. In Innovation and Research, we have established two cells to support researchers in applying for research funds. We work with them to identify the best EU calls to apply for, we assist them in writing the projects, managing finances, and handling administration. This is a significant aid for our researchers to compete in these European endeavors. However, ultimately, no matter how centralized your efforts are, if the researchers are not on board, you won't get far. So, we owe the success primarily to our very strong, entrepreneurial researchers."

VUB: "What does this imply about applied scientific research in Flanders?"

Prof. Thienpont: "That we are performing exceptionally well. Flanders is unquestionably at the forefront of applied research. The Flemish government also heavily invests in this area financially. The total Flemish government budget for science and innovation amounted to a whopping 3.3 billion euros in the 2023 budget allocation. This yields results: Flanders ranks among the top five innovative regions in the EU. Yes, Flanders has brains, that's what we possess."

VUB: "What is the next goal for research at VUB?"

Prof. Thienpont: "We must involve all faculties in the process to secure more research funding for innovation and research, including the humanities and social sciences. The European Union recognizes the significant role of the social component and allocates finances accordingly. We need to capitalize on this. We also need to approach it on a larger scale. Encouraging research groups to collaborate increases the likelihood of securing funds. Lastly, we must ensure that we have the cutting-edge technology and instrumentation in-house necessary to independently conduct our key research. This will enable us to more effectively transition to industrial and/or societal applications."

Flanders Technology & Innovation runs from 15-22 March

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