Publicly funded research now available online


Flanders’s new Fris web platform puts all the results of government-funded research projects online for students, industry, journalists and everyone else

Bridging the gap

Research funded by the government of Flanders will be easier to access in future, thanks to an open data initiative launched on Monday. Flanders Research Information Space (Fris) is intended to increase the visibility of publicly funded research and to encourage people to use it.

“I’m thinking of not only researchers and scientists, but also of students and companies who might use the data in ways we haven’t yet thought of ourselves,” said Flemish innovation minister Philippe Muyters.

The Fris website covers approximately 29,000 research projects and 300,000 scientific publications, drawing its data directly from the universities and other institutions carrying out the research.

“We have developed the portal to show the most recent data,” explained Johan Hanssens, secretary general of the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation. “For example, if a university changes something in its own database, this will be implemented immediately on Fris. So there is a direct integration with the systems of the scientific institutions in Flanders.”

Following trends

The site also provides a connection to some 75,000 researchers at work in the region. “The platform aims to bring researchers closer together, to encourage interdisciplinary research and to enable networking between researchers,” Hanssens said.

The same goes for journalists looking for expert contacts, or policymakers looking for advice. “Fris can be a source of inspiration for the Flemish government for reporting, analysis and statistics, in order to improve policymaking and to better follow trends.”

The site was launched on the first day of the Summer of Code, a programme that encourages students to experiment with open innovation. They will be among the first to test the platform’s possibilities.

“Until the end of this month, a team of five students will experiment with this data,” said Summer of Code organiser Toon Vanagt. “We are curious about the fresh perspectives and applications they will find for reusing this research data.”