The Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR, in French) is the main funding body for research in Luxembourg. The institution invests public funds and private donations into research projects in various branches of sciences and the humanities, with an emphasis on core strategic areas. The FNR's financing instruments seek excellence and quality in research and support PhD students, projects and programmes which are assessed by independent scientific experts.
Types of funding
The funding mechanisms of the FNR focus on the institution's three strategic objectives: reaching scientific leadership in key sectors, making public research a competitive advantage for Luxembourg and anchoring science and research in society.
The FNR offers three main types of funding:
- Person funding, through the AFR, ATTRACT, Industrial Fellowships, PEAR and KITS.
- Project funding, through BRIDGES, CORE, INTER Mobility, OPEN, INTER IPBG, JUMP, PSP-CLASSI, PSP-FLAGSHIP, PRIDE, RESCOM instruments, as well as through joint calls for projects with Luxembourg's ministries.
- Programme funding, with INITIATE and NCER.
Most financing instruments involve the direct transfer of grants to the host institution, which is then responsible for administering the grant.
Key funding types
The AFR is one of the longest-running funding schemes of the FNR and now provides funding for the training of PhD candidates only. Grants are awarded in the form of an employment contract with the host institution, rather than in the form of a scholarship. The AFR PhD scholarship scheme is divided into two sub-categories: AFR PhD in Luxembourg (AFR Incoming) and AFR PhD abroad (AFR Outgoing).
The purpose of the scheme known as Industrial Fellowship (formerly AFR-PPP) is to promote cooperation between Luxembourg based companies which are active in research and development and public research institutions in Luxembourg or abroad. The scheme grants PhD and postdoctoral scholarships to researchers who carry out their PhD and/or postdoctoral training in collaboration with a company in Luxembourg. All scientific areas and researchers are eligible for the scheme, no matter what nationality they have. Partner companies must have a presence in Luxembourg.
CORE is the FNR's core scheme. As a multi-annual thematic research programme, CORE's primary objective is to strengthen the scientific quality of Luxembourg's public research in the country's research priorities adopted by Luxembourg in 2019 (National Research and Innovation Strategy).
The INTER programme is the FNR's main funding instrument to encourage international collaboration. Its aim is to give Luxembourg public research a higher profile in the international context by providing funding for international collaboration. Through INTER, the FNR can initiate bilateral or multilateral agreements for calls for projects in collaboration with other national or international funding bodies.
The National Centres of Excellence in Research (NCER) programme provides a structuring framework and funding instrument for clustering research excellence around a mission of significant societal interest, by promoting high-level transdisciplinary research and cross-sectoral collaboration. NCER projects schould become internationally recognised models of best scientific practice, both in terms of research outcomes and impact and the way in which research is conducted.
As part of the National Research and Innovation Strategy, a limited number of NCER projects are planned to be launched in the coming years. These projects represent long-term investments (FNR funding for a maximum of eight years) within the framework of national research priorities and should be integrated into the Luxembourg research landscape as flagship projects.
The Luxembourg National Innovation Agency known as Luxinnovation gives companies the means to innovate today so that they are ready for tomorrow. It also contributes to the development of the economy as a whole, by identifying innovation opportunities and promoting collaborative innovation projects that act as a springboard for the development of a competitive, digital and sustainable economy.
Luxinnovation works in partnership with the FNR for certain funding instruments in order to create a link with Luxembourg companies. It is the case for three calls for projects:
The selection process
The transparency of the selection process is of great importance for the FNR All candidates who submit proposals (successful or not) receive the results of the peer review and the panel's evaluation of their proposals.
Bearing witness to the importance the FNR places on transparency, a 2015 external evaluation of the FNR's selection procedure for the CORE programme found the procedure to be transparent, fair, impartial and unbiased. The principles of this selection process apply to all of the FNR's research funding schemes.