Tempus JEP project „Capacity Building for Research in Croatia“
Site Visit to the University of Leuven
February 26 – March 01, 2008-02-27
1. Zeljko Dujic, University of Split, Project coordinator;
2. Melita Kovacevic, University of Zagreb, Vice-rector for research;
3. Zdravko Lenac, University of Rijeka, Vice-rector for research;
4. Vladimir Skracic, Universiy of Zadar, Vice-rector for research;
5. Branko Glamuzina, University of Dubrovnik, Research Committee member;
6. Ines Drenjancevic Peric, University of Osijek, Research Committee member;
7. Adrijan Baric, University of Zagreb, Research Committee member;
8. Mile Dzelalija, University of Split, Research Committee member;
9. Josipa Badari, National Foundation for Science;
10. Livia Puljak, University of Split, Project administrator.
February 27, 2008
An Huts: Introduction to K. U. Leuven;
Katholieke University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven or KUL) was founded in 1425. Its vice rectors
have vertical duties and vice-presidents have horizontal duties (vice-presidents for student
affairs, education, international policy). Core missions of the KUL are: research, academic
education and service to society. International office of KUL was founded in 1986. Belgium
has two parts: Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia. In the Flemish part
there are 5 associations of higher education institutions. KUL has one such association. This
association has 44% of students in Flanders. Universities exist in Bruges, Kortrijk, Gent,
Brussels, Antwerp and Leuwen – Catholic background links all these institutions.
Organization of associations was done in order to achieve academization of educational
programs – bringing levels of education up to involve research activities.
Prof. Dr. Flora Carrijn, Vice-Chancellor;
Dr. Wim Coudenys, International Office & Research Office;
Dr. Astrid Geudens, Research Office.
Lessius Hogeschool is a Flemish university college located on three campuses in the city of
Antwerp. It is a member of K.U.Leuven Association, the network of institutions around the
University of Leuven which was founded following the 2003 reorganization of higher
education in Flanders, Belgium. The college itself sprung from the merger of three institutions
between 2000 and 2008. at present, Lessius Hogeschool comprises of four departments,
offering numerous degrees
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 1
Research policy at Lessius;
1. Structured research coordination;
2. Research Council;
3. Research Office (research coordination);
4. Research units, research spearheads vs. Practical research;
5. Realisations: illustrations;
6. UC and the creation of a research tradition;
7. Lessius Research Fund.
2. Research Council
- general research policy;
- regulations and procedures;
- quality assessment of research activities (pre- and post-doc);
- encouragement of new research activities;
- processing and follow-up of the allocation of funds for research.
- chairman: director of academic development;
- secretary: research coordinator;
- members: staff officer services to community, departmental research coordinators,
representatives from Integrated/Associated Faculties K.U.Leuven.
3. Research Office
Staff: There are 1,5 full time equivalent employees in the Research Office.
Composition: research coordinator and staff officer services to community.
- day to day management of research office;
- preparation of Research Council;
- providing information on opportunities for research funding;
- implementation of procedures;
- support and follow-up of research applications and research-related issues;
- communication with internal and external partners;
- reporting on research outcomes.
4. Academic and Professional
- research coordinator at the department;
- research units – Ma programmes;
- fundamental + applied research;
- research spearheads: positioning of Lessius within K.U.Leuven framework;
- culture of quality assessment;
- research coordinator at the departments;
- research with practical relevance (relevance to the profession, practitioners,
- creation of relevant criteria for evaluation.
In professional departments research has practical relevance and is therefore different than
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 2
5. Realisations: quality assessment
- procedures to follow-up research activities
o specific to academic vs. Professional departments;
o academic = in agreement with criteria of the Integrated/Associated Faculties;
Staffing and expertise;
Financial means and infrastructure;
Research and valorisation output;
Integration in education.
o particular attention to doctoral students: appointment, possibilities, guidance,
Tools for quality assessment:
Lirias @ Lessius
o Repository for publications;
o Open source system D-space;
In this evaluation there is a list of accomplishments that get points. For example, publication
in international journals: 1 point; national journals: 0,5 points. In five years they need 2
points. The description of this assessment is publicly available at:
Onderzoek@Lessius means „Research@Lessius“ – is an online database that is protected
with password. This is inventory of research activities, has reporting tools and criteria
association for regional, federal and European authorities. It is difficult to apply for basic
research grants because of links with Leuven, but it is more important for Lessius to answer
calls for applied research.
This database has information about researchers at Lessius, data about FTE, percentage of
involvement in research, PhD information
Increase of research output:
- e.g. increase in number of research grants and project applications;
- e.g. diversification in funding source.
6. Creating a research tradition
University College is not an University, as there is different status of professors and
researchers, different allotment of teaching and research times. Universities have more
generous financing of research.
Currently, the intention is to make the College to be more like university by financial
impulses to allow more research time, differentiation in career tracks (research vs. Teaching)
and having affiliated professors at K.U.Leuven.
7. Lessius Research Fund
This fund finances postdoctoral positions in research spearheads, in research areas that they
are interested in. The fund is financed by proper means of Lessius plus tax rebate on
researchers' wages. The more researchers means more tax rebates so there is an opportunity to
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 3
get more researchers with these funds. There is a stringent governmental control of how these
funds are used – research output is measured.
Main goals of the fun are strengthen research spearheads. This is cumulative effect – the more
researchers they can attract means more funds for the initiative. So far the initiative has been
very successful. The fund also facilitates integration into K.U.Leuven research units and aims
to increase research time and output. This Research Fund is unique for Lessius among
university colleges in Flanders.
Visit to Campus de Nayer
Dr. Ir. Sven Liers, Head of the department
Campus de Nayer is a part of Lessius. It has department of industrial sciences and department
of engineering. Lessius is devoted to creation of knowledge as well as to its implementation
and innovation. The government supports implementation of knowledge and innovation so
this campus is focused on that. Their research is focused more on the industry, i.e. translation
of ideas into new solutions.
February 28, 2008
Prof. Paul de Boeck, Research Coordinator – Welcome to K.U.Leuven and its Research
Offices. More than 1000 PhDs theses are defended annually in Flanders, where there are 6
million people. There are 25.000 regular students at K.U.Leuven and if all the students,
including postgraduate, are counted, there are 33.000 students. In the whole association there
are 75.000 students.
A formula is used to distribute funds to universities: Master degrees 25%, PhD degrees 35%,
15% citations, 15% publications and from this year not only number of publications, but its
impact factor. Publications and citations are 30%. This 30% for research output is going to
increase to 35%, and 5% is for other things (human resources): if somebody is not Flemish,
that counts; study visits abroad, gender issue (women get more points). Formula applies for
50 million Eur that is internal research fund and it comes from the government.
Research budget of K.U.Leuven is 250 million Eur annually. Salaries for PhD students are
included in this budget. This implies all competitive funds, contracts with industry, Flemish
research fund etc. The government does not give all this money. The funding comes from
Dr. Gerard Cielen
Research Structure at K.U.Leuven
1. General structure - KUL research policy is based on four pillars:
- research policy council: general reflection on research policy like assessment
procedures, general institutional objectives, monitoring instruments; provides open
discussion and advice; its members are representatives of the research departments.
There is no permanent staff in this council. They meet 4-5 times a year.
- research council is the council with the highest impact at KUL. It was established 20
yrs ago with funds from Flemish government. Budget is 55 million Eur annually. It
provides translation of internal research policy into practice. The research council
covers all kinds of funding and research areas. It has bottom up and top down
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 4
approaches, depending on the circumstances. Assessment is made through project
analysis, peer review and track record. Its members are internationally recognized
researchers. There is no permanent staff in this council. They meet 4-5 times a year.
- research coordination office is in fact clearing office for all questions about research.
This office has experienced people knowledgeable about research procedures, who
have a number of instruments to monitor research. This office covers whole spectrum
from fundamental to applied research. They had to increase their staff during last
years. Now they have about 20 employees and most of them have PhD degree. The
vice president for research is the academic head of this office. He is also in the Boars
of the University and other important councils. Therefore, the office can translate their
ideas to other councils of the KUL. The vice-president for research has affiliated staff
(3,5 FTE, for ICT support, for example), then staff for reception (1 FTE), Research
Funds unit (4,5 FTE) and Research Policy unit (8,5 FTE). All together they work in
one matrix model. The vertical model is a need to support specific programs, whether
they are internal or external funding programs. For each program they have two
experts; they know how this program fits into internal KUL policy they have people
that can provide information to researchers. The research coordination office provides
research policy, information, stimulation, they support applications for external
funding, make assessments, follow up of ongoing actions and write reports. Functions
of each staff are related to more than one vertical key function. Horizontal key
functions are for/from all researchers and consist of information means (international
journal on funding opportunities, web site, info sessions,...), databases research
indicators (projects, publications), development of assessment tools (peer review, site
visits), service (proposal reading and feedback) and internal initiatives (e.g.
- KUL research and development Interface Office - This office also serves as
interface towards the industry and works on valorisation strategy, intellectual property,
spin-offs and industrial projects. Staff: 40.
This way of working with 4 corner stones has some distance between decision making and
implementation. Policies need to be put into implementation plans and finally everything
needs to be adopted by departments that actually do research. A number of decisions get
modified in the process. Advantages are direct access to researchers. There is no much
negotiations with upper levels of university administration.
2. Changing internal and external environments
Three new changing points are:
- Flemish government puts much more emphasis on quality assessment. They published
a decree recently about 3 levels of quality assessment of researchers (each 5 years
assessment of individuals), bigger domains (each 8 yrs assessment of progress of
domains) and projects. Two negative reports in a row can have negative consequences.
- Innovation/industry/society – more emphasis on applied research;
- Bologna reform has impact on research.
3. New challenges
- KUL recently established science groups with their own autonomy: they can organize
their doctoral studies themselves and choose students; new centres (not departments)
are being established – they are multidisciplinary platforms for strategic domains
(horizontal entities); there is a lot of temporary staff at KUL, and there is an initiative
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 5
to create permanent positions for PhD holders for management of science – new career
track is being established;
- Industrial Research Fund – is a totally new funding source for applied research. The
budget is 7 million Eur annually. The industry gets tax deduction for hiring
researchers. The Industrial Research Council has 18-19 members and one third comes
from the Industry. The KUL proposes them, but they are also approved by the
government. This fund covers basic and applied research, teaching (including doctoral
students and postdocs) and innovation (knowledge management, patents, spin offs).
4. Research Policy
The research policy plan is a document drafted by the vice-president for research. It will be
approved by the academic council. Three big objectives are:
- strengthening the research performance (publications with focus on citations and
impact) and number of PhDs; The number of publications increased from 1500 in
1992 to 3700 in 2005. However, impact factor did not rise so fast. The number of PhD
degrees in 95/96 was 260 and in 05/06 it was 450. At this moment the number of PhD
degrees is 475. About 10% of those PhD holders will remain at this university. Two
years ago KUL made an exit questionnaire, which was sent to 960 PhD students who
recently ended their studies at KUL. They were asked about their experience in KUL,
what was the next step after getting a PhD, did they get a job at university or industry.
Results: 66% agreed that their PhD was valuable for their actual position; one third did
not answer this question.
- quality research staff with experience of working abroad; diversity; recruitment. KUL
has a problem related to ratio of temporary and permanent staff. Permanent staff
remained at 950 from 1995 (associate and full professors). However, number of
temporary staff increased from 1950 in 1995. to 3450 in 2006. This was a
consequence of KUL success and increased funding in the last ten years. PhD students
are included in the number of temporary staff. Postdoc positions will be made
permanent, but individuals will be regularly assessed. Recruitment is one of solutions
– KUL wants to attract the best people. PhD students are 100% time paid for research.
They can teach one day per week. Postdocs funded by own research funds should not
be involved in teaching. Postdocs funded by Flemish fund for science can teach one
day per week. There is one type of professorship only for research and they don't do
much education; includes tenure track; this has been in place for 7-8 years already and
there are 8 of those positions at KUL per year. Outstanding postdocs can also can to
KUL from abroad and they will be granted research time only too. Almost all other
professors have 3 duties: education, service and research. Permanent staff differs
based on the number of teaching hours – that depends on the faculty where they work,
as well as the results of research assessment.
- improving research environment: funding, core facilities, enhancing valorisation
Flemish government has funding schemes for funding equipment. The name of this is
Hercules program and it is worth 15 million Eur per year.
Implementation of research policy comprises:
- multidisciplinary and disciplinary research;
- concentration on 20 top groups and action towards creative, new ideas;
- quality: KUL expects 5% increase in impact factor over 5 years, past performance is
criterium for funding, 25% increase in patents, 5% of spin-offs over 5 yrs;
- talented young researchers – tenure track positions, coaching;
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 6
Policy instruments, Research Fund, Research Council, Research Coordination Office
Special research fund (BOF)
- total Flemish budget is 100 million Eur annually
- BOF key is a money distribution key:
o 65% masters, PhDs, human resources (HR) parameters; the number of
doctorates is very important. 35% of BOF key is calculated based on doctoral
o 35% publications, citations – independent agency works for government and
collects bibliometric data for Flanders every year and assessment is made
based on this;
- each Flemish university is manager of its own research found governed by the
In 2008 KUL got 42,63% of this fund. Yearly budget of about 48 million Eur, spending about
55,3 million Eur in 2007. The goal is financial support of fundamental research based on
Research Council of K.U.Leuven has a chairman with 3-year mandate, 24 members with
2x3 year mandate; code of good conduct, is appointed by the academic council; represents a
wide spectrum of disciplines, has a research coordinator, includes vice-rectors and directors
for research. It ha bureau meetings and plenary sessions about 12 times a year.
Operation of the Research Council is ensured by its members who represent their area of
expertise, not their faculties. Decisions are made by consensus, not voting. On-site visits are
made prior to major project financing. Annual evaluations are made (and possible
adjustments) of the categories for funding intervention. They give advice to university
authorities and advise external authorities on site matters.
K.U.Lueven Research Fund has three main funding categories:
CREDO: concerted actions (GOA), focused research actions (OT);
SPERO: focused research actions for beginners (START), interdisciplinary research (IDO)
and CREA – for new ideas that cannot be funded elsewhere.
Mandates: PhD grants, postdoc grants (1-year or 3-5 years), fellowships (junior and senior),
research professorships (5 year).
Concerted actions (GOA) – 5 years projects, budget is 160-320 000 Eur per year, and they
have at the moment about 40 concerted actions running. Procedure includes writing letter of
intent, proposal, site visit, review by RC members and peers (track record, overall project
appraisal, feasibility, novelty), international profile of the Pis, bibliometric profile of the Pis,
evaluation of progress reports by RC members.
Interdisciplinary research (IDO) funds new research directions, it is mandatory to combine
different disciplines, it is of strategic value to KUL and has funding of up to 700,000 Eur/2
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 7
Funding of the Research Council
Strengths: diversity of categories to be financed, criteria for evaluations is specified in
guidelines, there are multiple calls per year and there is a bottom-up approach. Research
Council can be proud of internationally recognized scientific profile of its members and
multidisciplinarity. Whenever possible and feasible, peer review is provided. Applicants get
Weaknesses: there are significant differences in research methodologies, significant
differences in publication policies in different disciplines so the question is how to compare
them. There are different publication patterns including journals, proceedings, books and
there is different focus in different disciplines. Also, junior researchers cannot compete with
senior researchers if publications are measured. This system also brings competition among
Conclusions: Research Fund focuses on fundamental research, 2007 budget was 48 million
Eur, which is 6% increase when compared to 2003 and 410% increase compared to year 1995.
Applications are analyses based on multiple parameters, peer review is provided and advice is
given in consensus. Budget bonuses are given for concentration, for realized output as top
publications, PhD theses defended etc. They create possibilities for young researchers and
their ideas. They also put emphasis on follow-up.
Dr. Bruno Hoste
Policy instruments, Industrial Research Fund, Research Coordination Office
Industrial Research Fund
This fund is response to innovation paradox. The flow of information and knowledge needs to
be valorised. So KUL provided financing within university to support research that is
valorizable and able to be transferred to industry. KUL wanted to valorise academic research
through patents and licensing, spin-offs, research contracts and projects. There is direct or
indirect economic and/or social impact in this activity, as new companies are created as well
as new products, processes and services. This fund receives money from Flemish government.
It is an internal fund managed by university and associated schools of higher education. It has
open call system for projects and mandates and is meant to catalyse financing and return.
Its goal is efficient creation and transfer of knowledge towards industry and community.
Emphasis is on valorisation of academic research. Key performing parameters are PhDs,
publications and citations, industrial projects, EU FP projects, patents, spin-offs and scientific
personnel. There is a different weight for applied and granted patent. KUL wants to augment
the output of the university.
- research coordination office;
- K.U.Leuven research & development;
- IOF Council:
o K.U.Leuven professors (8+chairman);
o Representatives of industry and society (5);
o Observative members.
- IOF bureau;
- Thematic advisors.
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 8
- industrial research fellows;
- knowledge platform;
- leverage projects.
Project types – IRFs (14)
- postdoctoral experience, management qualities, experience in valorisation and IP;
- business minded entrepreneurs;
- valorise research within their research group(s), foster and protect knowledge;
- bridge, stimulate, and support communication, negotiations and cooperation with
- build up knowledge to start up new enterprises;
- experience in project applications and management.
Project types – leverage projects (>30)
- short-term feasibility studies;
- specific focus;
- clear objective(s) and a realistic and well defined goal;
- high risk;
- but with clear valorisation pathway if successful;
- attract independent follow-up financing (investments, licensing, contract research)
Examples: research to support a patent application, additional research necessary to create a
- large Flemish network of knowledge and technology;
- cooperation with companies;
- experience in European projects & external partnerships (international network);
- internal knowledge and IP support;
- experience with contract research;
- interaction with schools of higher education – applied research;
- dynamic flux of highly educated people towards industry and SMEs.
This funding types enables:
- long-term planning;
Dr. Herlinde Leemans
Policy instruments: Bibliometric Studies – Lirias
- since 1998;
- since 2000: linked to SAP-data (off-line);
- input of the metadata
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 9
- Result: 'shadow' system – every single publication had to be put in several system. The
result was inconsistency, huge back log and a lot of frustration. Each time that people
had to apply for something they had to fill out different forms.
Institutional repository: LIRIAS
- Leuven Institutional Repository and Information Archiving System;
- Dspace (MIT/HP)
o Easy web-based user interface for input by researcher (or secretary);
o Upload of full text, presentations, data files...;
o Indexing, easy browsing, search;
o Numerous export facilities;
- Pilot project (proof of concept) in Biomedical Sciences:
o Download of metadata from PubMed,
o Bootstrap: 'batch' download from PubMed;
o Automatic linking to SAP-data (authentication, author SAP id, organizational
o Quality control through workflow;
o Generate bibliographies in different formats (word, pdf, odt, xml, ...);
o Statistics for administrative/evaluation purpose;
o Gradual roll-out starting from October, 2006;
o Central help desk;
o Additional functionality:
Local admin facilities;
Limited access to documents;
- Use OAI-PMH to contribute to archiving projects (Nereus, ...);
- Single-source for evaluation – project proposals – research quality assessments –
appointments/promotions (full text available if needed);
- Benchmarking of research output;
- Additional features:
o Attach journal impact factors and (ISI) citation scores;
o 'harvest' from other metadata sources;
Link is: https://lirias.kuleuven.be/
Every user of K.U.Leuven can log in. One can add publications, make biographies for self or
other persons, etc. For every publication a researcher needs to indicate whether he/she was
affiliated with K.U.Leuven at the time.
There are now 3400 people registered in Lirias. On administrative side there are 3-4 persons
working on Lirias. Quality control is also done by the staff.
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 10
Dr. Stijn Delaure
Internationalisation in research
Total revenue of KUL in 2006 was 587 million Eur. 2006 research revenue was 248 million
Eur. Number of participations in FP4 was 335, in FP5 was 286 and in FP6 was 275. In FP7
they have 453 projects.
Institutional reasons for international research cooperation:
- Critical mass: some problems require large efforts (CERN, LERU);
- Complementarity: access to research infrastructure, expertise and conditions; mutual
inspiration (diversity opens perspectives);
- Status/profile: it increases the visibility; it makes us stronger as compared to other
- Economy: increases funding; attracts investments of industry (regional surplus);
- Recruitment: larger pool to recruit from; internationalization at home;
- Responsibility: towards students (offering quality education); towards society (global
responsibility like climate);
- Critical mass: building international network of top researchers; development of
enhanced technology; publications;
- Complementarity: access to advanced technology/data/expertise; collaboration with
key players and key customers;
- Status/profile: improving scientific profile in the context of intense academic
competition; collect valuable experiences in project management;
- Economy: getting funded for something you planned to do;
- Recruitment: training and career development;
- Responsibility: offer students the best education, involving them in
Internationalisation objectives of K.U.Leuven are:
1. Institutional collaboration with priority partners and in strategic domains;
2. increased participation in international research programmes (stimulation and support)
towards 10% of research revenue in 2011;
3. Internationalisation of research personnel: increase mobility of students and
researchers; to have more than one quarter of foreign researchers in all disciplines.
Measures to increase participation:
- policy level:
o integration of internationalisation objectives into K.U.Leuven research policy:
indirect support: bottom-up internal research capacity building;
leveraging effects (CoE, Methusalem, IOF);
direct support: through programs, strategic and administrative support;
o increasing industry-academia partnership formation:
industrial research fund – participation in EU funding;
- operational level:
o recruitment of foreign researchers;
doctoral schools, Odysseus, fellowships;
o information and sensibilisation campaign;
access to early EU funding opportunities information;
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 11
proactive involvement of researchers in EU;
training in EU research proposal writing;
o day-to-day advice and support;
administrative advice, guidelines and templates, proofreading.
- preparatory funding.
K.U.Leuven EU team deals with research coordination and technology transfer. They have 11
FTEs. Contact is:
Support by EU team comprises full spectrum of services from proactive initiatives towards
EC, to ideas (coordination), pre-proposal (project orientation in FP, guidelines, how to write a
competitive proposal), proposal (conformity check, administrative and legal support;
preparatory funding), negotiation and project management.
K.U.Leuven leverage for EU: VES
- Preparatory funding for European multipartner, multinational project proposals: personnel,
consultancy, travel & subsistence; consortium meeting, negotiation...
- Objective 1 is to stimulate K.U.Leuven researchers to participate in EU RTD funding;
- Objective 2 is to increase quality of K.U.Leuven RTD project applications;
Specific conditions for leveraging funding of EU project applicants:
- applicant has other K.U.Leuven funding;
- contact with EU-team strongly recommended;
- only for multinational EU project proposals;
Time: available 1 year;
Budget: Coordinator max. 5% (max. 25,000 Eur); partner: 4.000 Eur.
- continuous submission;
- coordinator > 2 months – partner > 1 month.
More info: Stijn Delaure (email@example.com)
English version: http://www.kuleuven.be/research/activities/index.html
Challenges for discussion:
- investing in research on a competitive basis;
o providing leverage, creating critical mass;
- link research funding to internationalisation activity;
- invest in networking;
o by individual researchers;
o at institutional level (associations membership)
- stimulate mobility of researchers (outgoing and return);
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 12
- invest in liaison activities:
o create critical mass (national level?);
o providing the EU dimension to projects.
Prof. Paul de Boeck
Open discussion about interaction RCO-Croatian institutions
In K.U.Leuven somebody can be assistant professor whole their life. Negative evaluation two
times in a row provides justification for firing a professor. If somebody has no publications
and no research funds, then they need to have really good justification, otherwise this is a
K.U.Leuven has been struggling to have good criteria for teaching. They also don't measure
financial input to evaluate. That is policy of the university. For some kinds of research they
need heavy investment. Other research project need modest funds to perform research.
Space and territory is associated with very primitive emotions. Taking the space away is
attack on personal integrity and is very sensitive issue. Prof. Dujic says that taking the space
away can be used for people that produce no research output at all.
K.U.Leuven has a system for assigning space, but it is based on the number of people who
will work there and a kind of research that will be done.
Dr. De Boeck used to be a department chair and he allotted space based exclusively on the
number of people that will work there.
Conclusions by An Huts:
- talked about research process at KUL. The KUL is truly very research intensive, but
always there has been rather intuitive process; there is a general feeling of what is a
good researcher, but there is no straightforward definition of a good researcher.
- In all presentations it was visible that the KUL adapted to different research policies in
time. First there was research council but then also research policy council. First there
was funds office, now they have also industrial funds office.
- With time KUL was differentiating. The KUL used to be very into fundamental
research, but this vision evolved. Now they put a lot of emphasis on applied research
and links with industry;
- The administrative infrastructure for research at the KUL is big and is growing,
reflecting growing investments in research. Many of them have been doctoral students
- There is a very close cooperation by research offices so people do not have to loose
time searching for somebody who can help them.
- Overall conclusion: not only KUL scientists, but also administrators are among the
best in Europe.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Dr. Paul Van Dun, General Manager of Leuven Research and Development (LRD)
Welcometo Leuven Research and Development
LRD has been founded in 1972, it was one of the first tech transfer offices in EU. Its task is to
contribute to the following goal of KUL: exploiting economic potential of research results.
Leuven Site Visit Minutes, page 13
LRD is a separate entity within KUL, but department with very big autonomy. 47 people are
employed in LRD, a variety of disciplines. They have a separate Board of directors; half from
KUL and half from industry. LRD has flexibility and freedom to operate as a business unit.
LRD consists of:
- central multidisciplinary staff supporting researchers in tech transfer;
- research divisions embedded via matrix structure in university. This is virtual
organization in which groups of researchers from different faculties or departments
can group their applied research, commercial-industrial and exploitation activities.
The groups with high profit are encouraged to invest their profit in the university.
For every 100 Eur spent on bonuses for good performance, only 25 goes to the professor.
Therefore, most of the professors prefer to use these 100 Eur to hire new people. Spin-off
route and licensing route have the same incentives.
How much professors earn from their invention:
For the amount up to 5 million royalty is 40% (net income)
Amounts 5-25 million: 30%
25-50 million: 20%
More than 50 million: 10%
Until three years ago one third of net income was given to the inventor(s). This flat rate was
changed, as the philosophy was to incentive professor to be active in the field – if a person
who gets a lot of money perhaps would not be as motivated to continue inventing in the field.
LRD Research Divisions run through all faculties and departments – independent of
university hierarchies. LRD does not know what is on the bank account of these divisions.
There is a dual incentive mechanism to maintain a balance and healthy tension between
striving for scientific excellence and gearing this excellence towards application and
innovation. Currently there are about 700 virtual bank accounts, where each professor can log
in and check which contracts have been made, what has been paid, all financial details – it is
like a virtual company of a professor supported by SAP.
LRD has three departments:
- contract research – the biggest department;
- spin-offs and regional development;
- intellectual property and licensing;
Incentive mechanism: Profit that remains after inventor is paid is spent as follows: 8,5% to the
LRD and 8,5% to the university. Remaining part of the funds go to the research
division/group. LRD gets no funds from KUL except for these 8,5%, out of which they pay
overheads and salaries. Reserves are used for growth of research groups, investment in patents
and investment in spin-offs.
LRD has a policy of handling one project by one person. This person then takes care of
everything that this contract between industry and researcher needs.
Dr. Rudi Cuyvers
Creation of spin-offs at K.U.Leuven
LRD Spin-off unit provides support for:
- awareness creation and knowledge transfer;
- development of business plan;
- finding investors: Gemma Frisius Fund K.U.Leuven;
- finding infrastructure (university labs, innovation and incubation centre, science
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- negotiation and legal support (drafting bylaws, shareholder agreements and
- supporting growth and internationalisation process (participation in Board of
Directors, portfolio management);
- support innovation and high-tech entrepreneurship through networking and technology
- return through shares and warrants;
- typical distribution of shares: capital investment represents 75% of total shares and
intellectual property represent 25% of total shares.
At the moment 63 spin-offs companies (exploiting university research results) are active,
creating employment for more than 2.200 employees. About 6 successful IPOs are
established. Seed capital fund was started in 1998 and from that time on, the number of spin-
offs rapidly increased.
The government has set up Flemish innovation fund, which doubled amount of money that
can be invested in new companies that exploit university research results. Crucial mechanism
to be successful with spin-offs is to invest spare university money into these companies.
They have spin-offs in different engineering fields and biomedicine. Appropriate
infrastructure in the region is necessary (industry), as well as good climate – stimulating
knowledge exchange and partnering with other high-tech businesses (both SMEs and large
This activity needs to be promoted both among researchers and university management to be
Dr. Bruno Lambrecht
Agreements for research collaboration
Kinds of collaborations they see are:
- services (laboratory screening, standard measuring, ...);
- commissioned research;
- bilateral or multilateral collaboration (like EU projects);
- clinical trials.
In Flanders legal framework for valorisation of university research has an equivalent of Bayh-
Dole act. Since 1998 there is an article 169ter of University decree that mandates that
property rights are with university adn that researcher has a duty to notify the invention and to
delay publication for 12 months.
University has a duty to protect an invention and to file patent application within 6 months if
it is patentable; it has duty to exploit (if not, researcher can reclaim) and the university has a
duty to inform. The inventor has a right to a fair share of the financial return (between 10-
40% distributed amongst inventors). If there is a return and inventors get a part of it, there is a
special tax treatment.
Other decree that is important for this in University decree on services and college.
Everything done on behalf of third party, against remuneration, is building on existing know-
hos, research results or technology. Approval of the university administration is required. A
minimal overhead is 10%, which is a legal minimum, but is not covering expenses. The
researcher has a right to publish, but needs to delay it 12 months. Another rule is that every
contract is non-committing as regards the result of the scientific investigation.
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- Access database for project management: new project has a new card filled and is used
for follow-up of the project status and reporting.
- Database has contract templates and alternative clauses;
- SAP financial system is tool for invoicing and reporting (EU grants) and is accessible
Necessary staff: lawyers, administrative support and for EU grants there is a special office
that needs specialists (they do nothing but EU grants) and administrative support.
Frequent issues in contracts are:
- publications and publication freedom;
- intellectual property and fair return;
- specific issues with respect to medical research;
- financial aspects;
- specific legislation medical field.
Dr. Ivo Roelants
Knowledge protection and knowledge valorisation
Decision points on Continuation or Termination
Key success factors for Technology Transfer:
1. Structuring an IPR office;
2. Patent Strategy: to file or not to file, the patent landscape, know your neighbour;
3. Contract Strategy;
4. To market the innovation e.b. licensing;
6. team – cherry picking and bridging gaps;
7. value creation by continued research;
8. industry-academia collaboration – open innovation.
Patent Strategy of LRD depends on market, usefulness, uniqueness, likelihood of protection
and factors related to inventors.
Dr. Peter Marynen
Leuven International Doctoral School Biomedical Sciences
Aims to train young scientists as future biomedical researchers or as scientifically trained
professionals. The school offers integrated multidisciplinary programs: searching for
fundamentals of living systems and exploring link between humans and diseases.
They have 887 registered PhD students (data from January 2008). There is also external
recruitment, and they have 21% of international students, 50% of which come from Europe.
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There were 92 graduated PhDs in 2006/07 academic year. Average time to degree is 4,5 yrs,
but there is a substantial spread, where about 80% do the thesis in 5 yrs, and tali is big, with
some students taking more than 10 years. Some research programs take more, also if a person
is a physician, it takes more time. For full time students, the School wants them to graduate in
The PhD Time Line
Several committees are involved in organizational aspects of PhD training.
There are 8 administrative steps defined:
- preliminary doctoral plan (both in year 1);
- research seminar (year 2)
- final doctoral plan (year 3)
- doctoral training completed,
- manuscript submission
- manuscript approval
- public defence (year 4).
Doctoral committee is in charge of Admission (first two steps); thesis advisory committee
takes care of the Supervision (next two steps) and examining committee oversees last 4 steps
that are supposed to take effect in year 4. This doctoral training can be prolonged in case of
part time research.
PhD programs are fully funded for 4 years. The K.U.Leuven is accredited to perform graduate
studies and programs are internally defined within centers of excellence.
Doctoral training includes providing core research skills (papers, meetings, presentations,
reports, lectures), transferable and personal skills training and development, and
interdisciplinary research training.
International Doctoral School for Biomedical Sciences
Cancer Programme has a purpose to provide students with solid and broad basis in cancer
research, develop competencies (skills) and prepare them for job market.
Currently three courses running:
- signalling in cancer;
- cancer therapy;
- methods in cancer research.
They organize lectures by internationally renown lecturers, invited by PIs, there are journal
clubs, once a year they organize students' day – in their second year they present shortly their
research project. Oncoforum is a whole-day event organized once a year. It is organized by
Leuven Cancer Institute, has format of a scientific meeting and program consists of
international speakers, oral presentations of PhD students, poster presentations by PhD
students. This Oncoforum is important for networking and building confidence.
There are social activities such as excursions, wine tasting etc. Which should improve
relational skills and networking.
Doctoral School Programme: Molecular and Stem cell Medicine
Work in progress seminars:
15 h or 3 afternoons per year. Each student presents once a year a 30 min overview of his/her
research, attendance of other PhD students is mandatory.
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There is annual retreat, 1 or 2 days per year: scientific brainstorming where each PhD project
is presented, discussed and critically evaluated.
Training in writing a grant proposal: in 4th year: students write a small 3-4 page grant
proposal in the fourth year and this solely by themselves without input from PI or postdocs.
This should allow judgment of ability to tackle a new project. Topic is assigned or chosen by
Group of Biomedical sciences
Doctoral Training BIOMED
Administrative Cell Doctoral Training Supervisory Committee
Doctoral Training Supervisory Committee
Thesis Advisory Committees
By centralizing administration they can upscale their efficiency.
Minutes taken by: Livia Puljak
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