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Ghent University
Faculty of Bioscience engineering  

Be the change - take the challenge

Prize for the best research proposal

Combat climate change. Halt biodiversity loss. Rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. Ensure clean, accessible water.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) are important, world-changing objectives that will require cooperation among governments, international organizations, and world leaders. It seems impossible that the average scientist can make an impact. Should you just give up?


No! Change starts with you.

Your mission is to come up with concrete new ideas which can drive progress across the globe.

Develop your innovative project ideas based on the SDG’s in a 2-pager, be awarded with 750€, and get the attention of 3 eminent professors: Prof. Johan Rockström, Prof. Johan Bouma, and Prof. Eric Davidson.


The Faculty of Bioscience Engineering and its Natural Capital Research Platform will award an honorary doctorate to prof. Johan Rockström (Stockholm Resilience Centre) on March 23 this year.

The Faculty and Research Platform would like to take advantage of this occasion to organize a large event on March 22 highlighting the importance of transdisciplinary research to address the global challenges, among others articulated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Johan Rockström’s ‘Planetary Boundaries’-concept.

This event will consist of

  • a ‘Natural Capital Visioning’-event for senior researchers
  • a ‘hot topic’ seminar series
  • this research proposal contest, annex meet & greet, for young researchers. Read on for more info on how to participate!

How to participate in the research proposal contest?

  • Target audience: young researchers (PhDs, postdocs) of Ghent University
  • Aim: young researchers develop a 2-page research proposal (see Annex I for more details) that is
    1. scientifically excellent;
    2. addresses at least one of the Sustainable Development Goals;
    3. and is truly transdisciplinary (see Annex II).
  • Procedure:
    1. Researchers (individuals or small groups) interested in the call send a tentative title + very brief summary of the intended proposal (max. a few lines) to before February 11.
    2. A committee of FBW-ZAP will evaluate the submitted ideas and will make suggestions for collaboration with other interested persons in order to establish five small teams (of max. 5 persons each) that are invited to submit a full 2-page proposal by March 12. Existing ideas/proposals/projects can be (but should not) be used as a starting base.
    3. Each team will get a ZAP-tutor for feedback during the project development process. The proposals will be evaluated by three eminent professors (prof. Johan Bouma; prof. Eric Davidson; prof. Johan Rockström) prior to the event on March 22.
    4. On March 22 (3 - 5pm, visitor centre Bourgoyen, Ghent) the five teams will briefly present their proposal and will get individual feedback, during face-to-face-meetings, from the three professors. At the end of the session, the winner will be announced and handed over the award of 750 euro.
  • Doctoral Schools: this activity is recognized as a ‘transferable skill’ and can be taken up in the curriculum via the doctoral Schools.
Annex I: table of contents of the research proposal
  • Length: max. 2 pages (excluding the references), Arial font 11, 1.5 line spacing, margins 2.54 cm
  • Language: English
  • Content:
    • Title
    • State of the art
    • Objectives
    • Methodology
    • Work plan and indication + justification of tentative budget needed (max. 4 years and 500.000 euro).
    • Involved partners/stakeholders
Annex II: evaluation criteria
  • Scientific excellence
    • Is the proposal beyond the state-of-the-art?
    • Is the scope of the proposed work ambitious?
    • Novelty of concepts involved, and approaches and methods used
    • Structure of the work plan
  • Clear link with one or more Sustainable Development Goals
  • Transdisciplinary nature of the proposal (see figure below)
    • Degree of multiperspecitivism
    • Active involvement (e.g. via cocreation) of relevant stakeholders

Transdisciplinary nature

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Questions or comments?