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About Policy Research Centres


The Policy Research Centre Programme was launched in 2001 to provide a scientific basis for policy, which was needed by the Flemish government of that time in its eagerness to quickly anticipate social developments and challenges and take proactive measures. The first generation of the Policy Research Centre Programme lasted from 2001 till 2006, the second generation for 2007 till 2011.

The Policy Research Centre Programme is a reworking of the earlier Programma Beleidsgericht Onderzoek, which proceeded on a project basis. The emphasis in the policy research centres is laid more on structural funding.

On November 10, 2011 the Flemish government approved the new management contracts with a new generation of policy research centres. The third generation runs from 2012 to late 2015.

Policy Research Centres

The focus of the policy research centres is both on problem-driven short-term research and on fundamental long-term basic research on themes that the Flemish government regards as priorities and relevant to its policy.

The task further includes the transfer of knowledge, the provision of scientific services, the building up of collections of data, the unlocking of data sources and data analysis. With the recognition and funding of the Policy Research Centres, the Flemish government
is aiming for:

• structural research funding for priority policy themes;
• stability of research within a clearly established contractual framework;
• a scientific basis for policy through the structural integration of research into the policy and administration cycle;
• promotion of the multidisciplinary aspect within research of relevance to policy;
• accessibility of available knowledge and transfer of that knowledge to the Flemish government.

Through this initiative a number of highranking Flemish research groups can also develop a critical mass of knowledge. For the first time these groups now also have sufficiently long-term structural
funding. They can help young researchers to write a doctoral thesis. Unlike other programmes, the Policy Research Centre programme is not intended to only finance research. The government, as the client, also expects clear, usable results.

The Policy Research Centres Programme forms the basis for an interaction whereby policy supports research and vice versa. The basic framework of the research centre is constituted by one or more research groups from one or more Flemish higher education institutions. These groups work
with institutions from Belgium’s French Community and from other countries, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek, or VITO) and foreign public research institutions. A cooperation agreement leads to as good a candidacy as possible for a theme.

The new approval is naturally part of a broader process. The overall effect of the previous generation of Policy Research Centres was evaluated. On the basis of that evaluation the new structure for the programme was developed. Consequently, the Flemish government decided on the new research themes and assessed the candidacies submitted by the research institutions. In the policy area Economy, Science and Innovation (EWI) the annual central funding of the Policy Research Centres Programme comes to €9.2 million. This amount is shared between the various research centres. Each research centre can reckon on additional funding from parties involved in the policy areas on which they are working.

The Flemish government selects the themes on the basis of its policy priorities. It assesses research group candidacies by using scientific, policy-relevant and management-oriented criteria. On the basis of this judgement, one candidate to become a Policy Research Centre is accepted for each theme. The management contract also provides recognition and elementary rules and procedures for the running of the policy research centre, plus a long-term plan that states obligations as to the content of the research.

The term "generation" underlines the fact that a new term is more than a mere continuation of what went before. The term alludes to growth, improvement, evolution, and innovation of the existing programme. Indeed, the evaluation of the previous generation of policy research centres was intended as a learning process. A new list of research themes was drawn up in the light of current policy needs, and on this basis a new call was launched. The candidates and the research centres that were ultimately selected include the total newcomers as well as those known from the former generations and new cooperation agreements between newcomers and older acquaintances. New logos were designed to put this renewal literally and figuratively in the picture; they have the same basis but differ slightly.

Overview of Policy Research Centres 2012-2015
. Poverty
. Governmental Organization - Decisive Governance
. Foreign Policy, International Entrepreneurship and Development  Co-operation
. Culture
.Transitions for Sustainable Development
. Fiscal Policy
. Equality Policies
. Commodity and Passenger flows
. Integration
. Youth Research Platform
. Media
. Sustainable Materials Management
. Environment and Health
. Entrepreneurship and Regional Economics
. Educational and School Careers
. Spatial Development
. Sports
. Traffic Safety
. Welfare, Public Health and Family
. Work and Social Economy
. Housing

Note: the English translation of the names used by the Policy Research Centres may differ from the ones listed.