Important moments in the history of the F.R.S.-FNRS
The Belgian public does not fully understand that pure science is the necessary precondition for applied science, and that nations which neglect science and scientists are destined to decline.
Albert I of Belgium, 1 October 1927.
The origins of the FNRS
This royal speech was the driving force behind the creation of the F.R.S.-FNRS, at the time called the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique): less than a year later, on 27 April 1928, the FNRS was established as a public interest foundation by a group of industrialists and scientists and placed under the leadership of Émile Francqui, a captain of industry, a philanthropist and an important member of Belgian civil society. In just three months, a hundred million Belgian francs were given to the FNRS, not only by wealthy philanthropists, but also by private individuals, demonstrating the real national interest in scientific research.
After WWII, the FNRS gradually adapted to both the new realities of Belgian and international politics, and especially the exponential growth of scientific knowledge.
From 1947 onwards, in order to take on the challenge of the internationalisation of research, the FNRS accepted ongoing government subsidies. Before this state intervention, the FNRS relied solely on the income from its assets.
Adapting to society’s needs
During the fifties and sixties, several specialised and complimentary institutions were placed under the guardianship of the FNRS and became known as the Associated Funds. In 1994, the Fund for Research Training in Industry and Agriculture (FRIA) joined them.
Belgium’s progressive transformations into a federal state were integrated in the structures of the FNRS, which became the F.R.S.-FNRS, today committed to the development of research in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.
The FNRS today
As a public interest foundation, whose budget is more than 90% publicly financed, the F.R.S.–FNRS helps develop fundamental research in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. It does this by providing additional training to individual researchers and by funding research programmes, mainly in francophone Belgian universities.
The National Fund for Scientific Research - FNRS is a public interest foundation.
The purpose of the foundation is to advance scientific research in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation by granting subsidies both to researchers, thereby enabling them to dedicate themselves to scientific research, and to institutions, thereby enabling them to equip or run research units.
The F.R.S.–FNRS is governed by a Board of Trustees, which represents the foundation in all judicial and extrajudicial proceedings. The Board appoints a Secretary, who oversees the day-to-day management of the Funds. The Board of Trustees and the Committees or Boards of the Associated Funds are the managing bodies of the F.R.S.-FNRS. Read the full details constitution of the F.R.S.-FNRS (only in FR).
The Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees shall have the power to carry out all actions considered necessary or useful for the fulfilment of the foundation’s purpose.
The Bureau shall examine any issue which must be put before the Board of Trustees, and may add proposals. It shall do the same for any other issue which the Board has asked it to examine.
The Board of Trustees shall appoint a non-member of the Board to the position of Secretary, who may also be granted the title Secretary General by the Board. The Secretary shall oversee the day-to-day management of the Funds within the criteria set by the Board. They shall report to the Board. They shall also inform the secretariat about the meetings of the Board of Trustees and the Bureau.
The Board of Trustees may also decide at any time to terminate the Secretary’s role.
2010 - 2019
The Observatory of Research and Scientific Careers Pilot Project
The F.R.S.-FNRS was entrusted with this observatory, which aims to monitor and analyse the careers of young researchers, to study how and why people stop pursuing scientific careers and also to study the professional integration of young doctors.
Creation of the Art Research Fund
This new Fund aims to develop art research and enable art colleges and universities in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation to establish a special relationship between art research and teaching.
with the Swiss National Science Foundation.
with Les Fonds de recherche du Québec.
Launch of the EOS - Excellence of Science programme
With the EOS programme, the F.R.S.-FNRS and the FWO (Research Foundation - Flanders) have joined forces to promote closer collaboration in research between the Flemish and French communities in Belgium. The programme succeeds the Federal Interuniversity attraction poles. The EOS programme aims to promote joint research between Flemish and French researchers by funding shared fundamental research projects in all scientific disciplines.
with the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (Brazil).
with the Luxembourg National Research Fund (Grand Duchy of Luxembourg).
with the National Research Foundation (South Africa).
Adoption of the 2015-2019 PHARE II plan
Following the PHARE I plan, this new refinancing plan proposed a series of measure and key focus areas to meet the needs of researchers.
Implementation of the OCN (Organe de Concertation et de Négociation du F.R.S.-FNRS)
Wallonia-Brussels Federation for the F.R.S.-FNRS and its specialised Associated Funds.
François Englert, Nobel Prize in Physics
Creation of the Fund for Strategic Fundamental Research
The Fund for Strategic Fundamental Research (FRFS) is a F.R.S.-FNRS specialised associated Fund which has been tasked by the Walloon Government with the funding of outstanding fundamental research on key strategic focus areas:
- research into the sustainable development focus area, called WISD;
- research into FRFS life sciences focus area, called WELBIO.
Creation of FRESH (Human Sciences Research Fund)
The goal of FRESH is to support fundamental research into human and social science, with a focus on its societal impact.
The F.R.S.-FNRS and the FWO become 2 of the 7 founding members of Science Europe.
2000 - 2009
Publication of the PHARE I refinancing plan
Véronique Halloin, Secretary General of the F.R.S.-FNRS
Creation of the European Research Council
with the National Research Foundation of Korea (South Korea).
The Quinquennial Prizes take on their current form
1990 - 1999
with the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnologia e Innovacion Productiva (Argentina).
with the Czech Academy of Sciences (Czech Republic).
Increased collaboration with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)
Increased collaboration with the CNRS including the establishment of the LEA (Laboratoire Européen Associé), “Structure-function of biomolecules”, bringing together the Lille, Brussels and Gembloux laboratories.
Creation of the Fund for Research Training in Industry and Agriculture (FRIA)
with the Magyar Tudomanyos Akadémia (Hungary).
The FNRS becomes the F.R.S.-FNRS and the FWO
with the Polska Akademia Nauk (Poland).
The Belgian National Lottery participates in funding the FNRS
1980 - 1989
Creation of Télévie
Reform of the Belgian State and the FNRS
Up until the 1988 Reform of the State legislation, the FNRS fell under the scope of the Belgian Science Policy Ministry. Following the 8 August 1988 law on the funding of the Communities and Regions, the Flemish and francophone Communities each had to manage their own research and higher education budgets.
Marie-Josée Simoen, Secretary General
with the Consejo Nacional de Investagaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas (Argentina).
Cooperation agreement with the NIH
with the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico (Brazil).
Multiple cooperation agreements
with various Chinese research organisations.
Cooperation agreement with the NSF
1970 - 1979
Expeditions to Greenland and Canada.
The FNRS funded the expeditions to Greenland and Canada led by Professor Louis Beyens.
Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Ilya Prigogine, an advocate for many FNRS researchers and research projects, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Cooperation agreement with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
Creation of the Medical Ethics Commission.
Creation of the Medical Ethics Commission within the Fund for Medical Scientific Research. The Commission is now an authority on ethical matters.
Creation of a new Quinquennial Prize
The Joseph Maisin Scientific Prize (biomedical sciences).
Creation of the European Science Foundation
Christian de Duve and Albert Claude, Nobel Prize in Medicine
Modification of the status of research fellows
The status of research fellows was changed in 1973. From then on, research fellows were employed on a contractual basis which led to an increase in the cost of a research fellow grant and a decrease in the number of grants overall.
New buildings for the FNRS
1960 - 1969
Linguistic parity was adopted, not only by the scientific commissions (which were already operating on this basis), but also by the Boards and Committees of the FNRS and its Associated Funds.
A new Secretary General
Paul Levaux was appointed Secretary General of the FNRS-NFWO and the specialised Associated Funds.
Belgian expedition to the Great Barrier Reef
The law on university expansion
The increase in the number of university students caused organisational and structural problems for higher education institutions. The 1965 law on university expansion profoundly changed the university landscape and had a considerable impact on the importance of the FNRS and how it operated.
Creation of the Fund for Collective Fundamental Research Fund (FRFC)
Creation of two new Quinquennial Prizes
The Baron Holvoet Prize (Human Sciences) and the Ernest-John Solvay Prize (Human Sciences)
The Galapagos Islands
A geopedological mission, funded by the FNRS and initiated by Professor Paul De Paepe, went to the Galapagos Islands to carry out an initial soil study.
First Quinquennial Prize
In 1960, the FNRS awarded its first Quinquennial Prize (the Dr A. De Leeuw-Damry-Bourlart Prize) to draw attention to eminent Belgian scientific research.
1950 - 1959
Creation of the National Council for Science Policy
Creation of the Fund for Medical Scientific Research (FRSM)
Exploration of the South Pole
The first electronic calculator
Creation of CERN
Development of the FNRS III
1940 - 1949
FNRS II: the first bathyscaphe
Corneel Heymans, Nobel Prize in Medicine
Creation of the Interuniversity Institute for Nuclear Sciences (IISN)
First government subsidy
The FNRS during WWII
1930 - 1939
Expedition to Easter Island
Creation of the Francqui Foundation
Behaviour of ferrous metals at high temperature
Auguste Piccard’s stratospheric balloon
1920 - 1929
The first allocation of funds
The FNRS is born
Creation of a fund-raising committee
Albert I’s “Seraing speech”
The existence of the Fondation Universitaire was formalised by a new piece of legislation,