On 22 November 2019 the Council of Ministers approved the funding of the multi-annual research programme for earth observation, STEREO IV, as part of the Belgian space strategy.
This programme covers the period of 2022-2029.
STEREO IV's goal is in line with the previous programme and aims at maintaining a topnotch, dynamic and visible remote sensing community in support of the Belgian space strategy.
This translates into following subobjectives:
- Facilitating quality research
- Increase the visibility of Belgian RS research
- Support building a dynamic RS community
The thematic research priorities are as follows:
Impact of climate change on terrestrial and marine environments (data exploitation, monitoring, modelling, mitigation strategies);
Advanced Monitoring and Assessment of Hazards (including pandemics);
Monitoring environment for improved environmental health and biodiversity;
Geo-information for Sustainable and Green Cities.
Certain topics are covered by several programme themes, or even by all of these themes. A variety of disciplines sometimes has to be brought into play to study these issues from several thematic viewpoints. In this case, cooperation between one or more scientific teams with no remote sensing expertise is strongly recommended.
Projects can also focus on the development of new methodologies, but this should always de done with a future thematic application in mind.
The two-part programme comprises
Support to scientific research: various types of project are funded on the basis of calls for proposals.
Valorisation and support to the remote sensing community using following tools: website, newsletter, Twitter account and (co)-organisation of events. In addition, there is a a range of activities which are beneficial to the entire Belgian remote sensing research community as well as the acquisition of remote sensing imagery for the BELSPO’s research projects.
The scientific research covers 6 types of projects:
- Thematic network projects
- Exploration projects
- Scientific projects via open call
- Shared cost projects
- Dissemination and support projects
- Early career scientist grants
- Development of application projects
Thematic network projects and exploration projects are selected in the frame of a fixed call for proposals and after evaluation by international peers.
Shared cost, application and dissemination and support projects can be submitted via on open call and are selected by the STEREO Programme Committee depending on the scientific quality and relevance, the fit with the programme, the duration and the available budget.
Early career scientist grants will only be awarded in the second half of the programme and the exact modalities will be worked out later on.
THEMATIC NETWORK PROJECTS
This refers to major projects lasting 4 to 5 years. They can cover fundamental and/or application oriented research, but must have societal relevance. The research should be innovative.
The research is conducted by partnerships involving 2 – 4 Belgian research teams mandatorily rounded out by 1 – 2 international teams.
- Inclusion of Belgian teams not previously involved in STEREO is an asset.
- It is highly recommended for a partnership to include teams from both the Flemish and French community.
- The international team must be an indispensable part of the partnership and should bring along expertise not available in Belgium. The team coordinating the project should have some prior experiences with remote sensing.
- There should be a genuine synergy between all project partners as evidenced by joint papers, stays and training of staff at partner institutes and joint PhD theses.
The proposals will deal with scientific or methodological issues focused on the programme themes:
- Impact of climate change on terrestrial and marine environments
- Advanced Monitoring and Assessment of Hazards (including pandemics)
- Monitoring environment for improved environmental health and biodiversity
- Geo-information for Sustainable and Green Cities
Innovation in these projects can either refer to the use of new types of remote sensing data, development of new methods for exploiting remote sensing data, innovative use of remote sensing in a research domain in which it is already being used, introduction of remote sensing in a new research domain or a combination of thereof.
This involves small-scale projects associated or not with past BELSPO thematic projects, lasting 2 to 3 years for 1 to 3 teams complemented or not by an international team.
The projects are directed at:
- investigating new concepts, technologies and sensors (innovation project);
- exploring a new research track resulting from previous BELSPO remote sensing projects (spin-off project).
Innovation in remote sensing is at the centre of these projects.
SCIENTIFIC PROJECTS VIA OPEN CALL
This type of project provides co-financing for a Belgian partner that was selected for an international, bilateral, regional or national project, but did not receive 100% funding.
- Only peer-reviewed projects are eligible;
- The co-financing covers only the part of the project dealing with remote sensing;
- Co-financing of a Belgian participation in transnational programmes such as ERA-NETs is also possible.
Dissemination and support projects
These are small short-term projects with a maximum duration of 6 months and a budget not exceeding 30.000 €. They concern:
- Writing up of papers of STEREO III research output not initially foreseen or not yet mature by the end of the project;
- Rendering software written for a specific project accessible for the remote sensing community, e.g. in the framework of the STEREO toolbox;
- Linking of two STEREO projects through comparison of approaches, testing of methodology in study area of other project, joint paper, .....
- Small dedicated research needed for BELSPO or to support the use of Earth observation in a specific research area where Earth observation is not or hardly used a specific remote sensing field;
- Training grant for scientists in other research laboratory or company;
DEVELOPMENT OF APPLICATIONS PROJECTS
The goal of these projects is a transfer of technology and knowledge from scientific institutions to companies or Belgian public administrations or NGO’s or any combination of those. The proposal must result from a critical need of the institution or its customers and end users.
These applications can be products, services, software codes or procedures. Potential gains in resources, efficiency or turnover must be clearly demonstrated.
In terms of content, the proposals must have a bearing on the four priority research themes.
A maximum of three scientific teams, solely from Belgium, are responsible for the implementation of the project for a period of 1 to 3 years.
The programme pays solely for the scientific partner(s). The proposal must be submitted by the non-research partner who should also coordinate the project.
Residency and training of scientists at the corporate partner is recommended.