The IRMP manages an internal call open to academic members and permanent researchers of the institute to encourage embryonic projects that meet one of the following criteria:
a) Very original project with possible high potential for scientific impact and that could be defined as "possibly a breakthrough", or "high-risk, high-gain", or "possibly very relevant and off-the-beaten-path".
b) Project aiming to launch or prepare the launching of a totally new, relevant and high-profile line of research in the Institute, possibly linking researchers from different scientific domains.
c) Project aiming to prepare an application that would be submitted to a funding agency in order to obtain a major funding grant. Typically: the preparation of an ERC application to the EU.
What is common to these three cases is a high potential impact of the research project concerned, most likely in the medium or longer term.
For the first two cases a) and b) above, this call would be interesting because there are practically no other possible sources of funding open to Belgian researchers. The reason being that funding agencies request more and more often very detailed project descriptions in their calls. If on the one hand this attitude is understandable when having to deal with a large community of researchers in order to guarantee the selection of high-quality projects (thus ensuring a scientific return of the invested money in terms of publications, advancement of knowledge, applications, etc.), on the other hand it results in a tendency for researchers not to venture beyond their area of expertise and / or prefer "confirmed" or "mainstream" lines of research.
For the third case c) above, this call would represent the only guaranteed incentive2 for the IRMP researchers to take the step of preparing and introducing an ERC project; indeed the heavy load associated with the submission of an ERC project can discourage researchers from investing a significant amount of their research time, which is more and more limited in these times, in the preparation of such requests, given also the fact that the probability of success is low because of the tough competition.
This call grants a maximum budget of 10.000 € which could be used either as running budget (scientific stays in other institutions, invitation of scientists at UCLouvain, etc.), or to offload the researchers from part of their teaching duties so that they can devote themselves to their projects. Applications must include a description of the project on about one A4 page (i.e. a very light request in line with the idea of a call for projects in the embryonic state) and a concise justification of the requested budget and the duration of the project. The selection of projects is performed by the Scientific Advisory Committee of the IRMP, which is composed of scientific experts external to UCLouvain. At the end of the project period, a brief report on the use of the budget, the obtained results, and / or the steps taken is provided by the promoters of the selected projects.
2019 recipient: prof. Marco Drewes; project title: “Is there a strong CP problem?”