Research in composites at K.U.Leuven ranges from very fundamental studies to very applied and/or oriented projects, and is funded by different sources. Research is focused on the following:
In each of these areas, at least one postdoc and five doctoral or master’s students are working, providing a “critical mass” for efficient research and fruitful interactions. The research areas are highly intertwined. This approach enables also a downstream integration, as in each area fundamental and materials oriented research is combined with processing optimisation, and the evaluation of end-use properties, up to product development.
The total research funding of CMG exceeds 2.5 MEuro per year. The balance between long-term fundamental studies, middle-term applied research and short-term industry-driven work is maintained via a balanced use of different funding sources:
- Europe (Framework programs, European Space Agency)
- Belgium (federal)
- direct funding from industry
- international benchmarking exercises and information exchange initiatives
- commercialisation of software, patent licensing etc
Fundamental research is supported by Flemish, K.U.Leuven and EU funding sources:
- Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO) and Research Council of K.U.Leuven, which supports three-five years research programs as well as individual PhD and post-doc grants.
- Framework programs of EU support purely fundamental research in Marie Curie scheme and in thematic networks. CMG is constantly active in these collaborations (5th – 7th FP)
- International benchmarking exercises and information exchange initiatives, supported by the participating universities (hence without external funding), create international research climate of collaboration and establish “best practice” standards for research
- Fundamental research can also be funded directly by industry: an example is long term collaboration with Osaka University, funded by a consortium of Japanese companies
Middle-term applied research, which almost always is combined with fundamental studies, is also supported by Flemish, Belgian (federal) and EU sources, as well as by direct funding from industry:
- Framework programs of EU fund three-five years projects with participation of industry and academia; starting from the 5th FP, CMG constantly participates in two-four EU projects, often with a role of a coordinator of a work package leader; lesser duration applied projects are funded by European Space Agency (ESA)
- Institute for Science and Technology (IWT) and Strategic Initiative for Materials (SIM) of Flanders funds industry-supported projects of three-five years duration, and also (IWT) provides individual industry-supported PhD and post-doc grants
- Belgian (federal) agency SPO funds collaborative research with developing countries, which is widely used by CMG for support of research on natural fibre composites
- Bilateral projects funded directly by Belgian/Flemish, European and overseas industry (often have strong fundamental component)
Short term industry-driven problems (projects of half-year or less) is directly addressed by carrying out dedicated test series, providing consultancy, … The Technological Advisory Service (see also SLC) plays a crucial role in this service to industry.