FARI – CALL FOR A PRE-PHD SEED FUNDING PROJECT

FARI is an independent, non-for-profit Artificial Intelligence initiative created by the two leading universities in Brussels: the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Universit̩ Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). This unique organization aims at helping citizens, politicians, public, private and non-for-profit organizations to address local, everyday or long-term problem Рinsofar as AI can contribute. It brings together world-leading and future researchers.

📢 Update 📢

The deadline to apply has been extended to April 15, 2022

Program Objective

FARI – AI Institute for the Common Good (VUB-ULB) wants to develop and stimulate a new generation of researchers specialized in/around AI, Robotics, or Data, with a focus on the Common Good. To do so, FARI creates a bi-annual seed-funding Ph.D. program. This call allows FARI research groups to start financing Ph.D. students until they find or get another funding (e.g., FNRS, FWO, or from the research group).

In the context of NextGenerationEU, it allows FARI’s groups to detect and involve promising junior researchers on projects related to AI, Data and Robotics for the Common Good targeting priority areas for the Regional Innovation Plan of Brussels Capital Region: 

  • Climate & Energy
  • Resource Optimization
  • Mobility
  • Health & Well-being
  • Participatory & inclusive Society

Bi-annual Calendar

  • FARI will open four calls: 2 in 2022, 2 in 2023
  • Opening of the first call:  March 1st, 2022
  • Deadline for applying: April 1st, 2022
  • Announcement of awardees: June 1st, 2022
  • Funding start date: July 1st, 2022
  • Opening of the next call: September 1st, 2022

Amount, duration, and terms of payment

  • Total amount: €1 Million
  • €100k per FARI research group (equivalent to maximum 2 years of Ph.D. at ULB or VUB)
  • Eligible expenses: €40-45k will be used for the scholarship and €5k for expenses (e.g., computer equipment). The scholarship will be charged on FARI’s account and the equipment fees will be made available on the account of the designated supervisor.

Eligibility Criteria

  • For the project 
    • Interuniversity:
      • Projects need to include a minimum of two supervisors (PI’s) from FARI: one from ULB, one from VUB.
      • One supervisor (PI) acts as the main promoter of the project.
    • Should aim interdisciplinary: projects for which supervisors are from two different fields are favored for this call.
    • FARI focused: topics need to be pertinent for the mission of FARI and the RRF project and aligned with the Regional Innovation Plan of Brussels Capital Region.
  • For the Ph.D. student
    • Must have or be in the process of obtaining a master’s degree.
    • Cannot be already enrolled as a Ph.D. student at the time of the submission (this grant aims at covering students’ first PhD year)
    • Must not have received a Ph.D. grant prior to the application.
    • Will work full-time on the project.
  • For the supervisor
    • The supervisor and co-supervisor must be researchers of a FARI research group.
    • The co-supervisor must be in the other university.
    • The supervisor or co-supervisor may not submit more than one application per call for this competition.

Submission and selection procedure 

  • Application package
    • On the Online Application Form
    • Self-Identification Form + full CV (pdf)
    • Cover Letter
    • The Project (2 pages max)
      • Scientific Description
      • Should include a work plan
      • Should propose realistic deliverables (e.g., publication submitted, oral presentation at a conference).
    • Additional information (0.5 page)
      • FARI focused: the project description should describe how the project will contribute to FARI’s mission
      • FAIRness: Outline your attempts to make your research and data access FAIR, i.e., findable, accessible, interpretable, and reusable.
    • Applications should also explain how projects could contribute to one or several of the European Union’s key ethical requirements[1]: (0.5 page)
      • Human agency and oversight  
      • Technical robustness and safety  
      • Fundamental rights 
      • Transparency  
      • Diversity, non-discrimination, and fairness  
      • Societal and environmental well-being  
      • Accountability  
      • Sustainability[2]: the project should identify whether it presents any significant contributions or risks in terms of sustainability.  
    • Recommendation Letters from the supervisor – optional 
  • Jury 
    • An external and joint jury will be selected. It will include national and international academic experts, the Brussels Capital Region representative, and this call’s supervising authority: Innoviris.  
    • The selection procedure will be open and transparent.  
  • Ranking 
    • The evaluation will be divided in two different steps.  
      • The first consists of remote individual evaluation and depends on experts specialized in the proposal field and selected by FARI.  
      • During the second step, evaluators will meet in sessions to set up a consolidated ranking. 
    • The evaluation will be based on  
      1. Scientific quality of the project (research relevance and impact),  
      2. Excellence of the candidate,  
      3. Consortium quality (particular attention should be devoted to the interdisciplinary and inter-university nature of the project).  
    • Equity, Diversity, Inclusion criteria will be considered, following HRS4R Conduct and internal policies (ULB/VUB).  

Results 

The results will be announced on June 1st, 2022. FARI will notify all applicants by email of the decision. The score will be given in the decision letter. 

Commitments 

  • Ph.D. Students selected 
  • Supervisors 
    • The supervisor must provide a work environment suitable for completing the project. 
  • Jury 
    • Evaluators shall cease their work if they face any other situation that may raise doubts as to their ability and impartiality to evaluate the proposal or that could reasonably give an external third party this impression. 

Note 

  • Underrepresented groups (minorities and women) are encouraged to apply. 
  • However, they are not eligible for the Innoviris Applied Ph.D. program, but Ph.D. students can be researchers in other Innoviris programs (e.g., collaborative projects). 

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/futurium/en/ai-alliance-consultation.
[2] html https://sdgs.un.org/goals