Extra funding to help university researchers move into business

Summary

The government of Flanders is providing extra funds to help smooth the transition from academia to industry, and other career changes

High-flyers

Flemish universities are to receive an additional €2 million from the government for measures that help young researchers find jobs. This career support will look at options for changing disciplines, moving abroad or switching from academia to the world of business.

While some PhD students go on to an academic career in their specialist subjects, the majority change direction once their studies are complete. The new funding is for measures that support this career development, such as raising awareness of the options and additional education and training to smooth the way.

“To remain competitive, Flanders is investing in young researchers, who contribute to high quality and ground-breaking innovative research,” said Hilde Crevits, the government minister responsible for scientific research. “To support our young researchers in this, there is now €2 million in additional funding so that the universities can prepare their researchers for the future.”

It’s important that young researchers get a taste of life outside the university, even if they intend to pursue academic careers

- FWO chair Willy Verstraete

There will also be extra attention for their mental wellbeing, following advice from the inter-university Research and Development Monitoring Expertise Centre (ECOOM) that stress is a problem for researchers at the beginning of their careers.

KU Leuven and Ghent University will get the lion’s share of the new funding, receiving roughly €719,000 and €624,000 respectively. Antwerp University picks up approximately €267,000, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel € 248,000 and Hasselt University €142,000.

Meanwhile, the Flanders Research Foundation (FWO) is supporting complementary career development measures. These include providing opportunities to conduct research in collaboration with a company or another organisation, internships, and the flexibility to pursue paid work or other opportunities outside universities.

“It’s important that young researchers get a taste of academic life, but also of life outside the university, even if they intend to pursue academic careers,” said FWO chair Willy Verstraete. “It’s also good that companies and other institutions have the opportunity to gain experience of working with young high flyers.”

Photo: The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre in Mol
©Dirk Waem/BELGA