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 will cover the period of 2022-2027.
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.
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 three-part programme comprises
Support to scientific research: various types of project are funded on the basis of calls for proposals.
Support to the research community: this concerns a range of initiatives activities which are beneficial to the entire Belgian remote sensing community as well as the acquisition of remote sensing imagery for the BELSPO’s research projects.
The scientific research covers 5 types of projects:
- Thematic network projects
- Exploration projects
- Scientific projects via open call
- Shared cost projects
- Dissemination and support projects
- 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.
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 via partnerships involving 2-5 research teams (from Belgium) inevitably rounded out by (an) international team(s). Including Belgian teams not previously involved in STEREO is an asset. 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.
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
This involves small-scale projects associated or not with past BELSPO thematic projects, lasting 2 to 3 years for 1 to 3 teams whether or not rounded out by an international team.
The projects are directed at:
- investigating new concepts, technologies and sensors (innovation project); OR
- exploring a new research track resulting from previous BELSPO remote sensing projects (spin-off project).
In these types of projects there is the possibility for a Belgian partner who was selected for international, bilateral, regional or national projects (in the BRAINS.be programme for example) to be co-financed. There is also the possibility of co-funding for a Belgian participation in transnational programmes such as ERA-nets.
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;
- Dedicated research needed for BELSPO or to support a specific remote sensing field.
These applications can be products, services, software codes or procedures. The goal of these projects is a transfer of technology and knowledge from scientific institutions to companies or 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.
In terms of content, the proposals must have a bearing on the five priority research themes decided upon for scientific research. 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.
Private companies cannot obtain funding by the STEREO IV programme within this type of project. They have to contribute the equivalent of min. 25% of the STEREO IV project budget via staff, information and equipment and should also submit and coordinate the project. Potential end users also have to be involved with the project for defining and testing the finished product. Projects may be designed as 'pre-operational', thereby implying further fine-tuning paid for in full in a subsequent phase by the company itself, in the light of the assumed market outlook.