What is scientific research in French-speaking Belgium?

In French-speaking Belgium (Wallonia-Brussels), scientific research is an area that is shared by the federal state, regions and communities. In practical terms, two types of higher education institutions are in charge of research:

  • Universities, which assure basic scientific research (community competence). Please also note that PhD researcher training lies exclusively with universities and university academies.
  • University colleges, which deal with applied research (regional competence). Additionally, since 2019, university colleges can now submit applications for financing for research projects using the FRHE (University college research financing) scheme.

SCIENCES IN THE BLOOD: A deep-rooted tradition in French-speaking Belgium

French-speaking Belgium stands out for its unwavering commitment to scientific and technological research. Our many researchers are actively involved in a wide range of international scientific programmes. Among the fields of excellence, medicine, chemistry, statistics and astronomy have earned Belgian researchers prestigious scientific distinctions.

Today, Belgian expertise flourishes in fields as diverse as nanotechnology, biotechnology and vaccination. Universities are the main reservoir of this scientific expertise. Through the creation of spin-offs, they are making the most of these invaluable skills. Cancer treatment using proton therapy is one of the world's greatest economic and scientific success stories.

French-speaking Belgium is also making its mark in space research and climate studies in Antarctica with the Princess Elisabeth Station. Ambitious research projects focusing on sustainable development are also currently being supported. Many French-speaking Belgian scientists have been welcomed at prestigious universities abroad, just as French-speaking Belgium opens its doors to foreign students and researchers, attracted by the high scientific level of universities and the quality of life that Belgium offers.


No less than 15 French-speaking Belgian researchers stand out in the Top 2% Scientists, the worldwide database of authoritative academic researchers and scientists in their field.

How is scientific research funded in French-speaking Belgium?

To support research, Belgium relies on five different sources of financing:

  • the operating allowance for universities, of which approximately one quarter is assigned to research; 
  • the special research fund (FSR);
  • the concerted research actions (ARC);
  • subsidies granted to the Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S. – FNRS), to the FRIA and associated funds;
  • sundry grants assigned directly to researchers or teams for research activities or the dissemination of scientific knowledge; or assigned to other institutions, such as, for example, the Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique.

Each of these financing lines benefits two main types of stakeholders: universities and the Fund for Scientific Research.

Excellence and opportunities

Research centers and international reach