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Marijke Mahieu
Project Coordinator, EnerGhentIC
Phairywind & BE-HyFE

In Belgium we are often more likely to look for collaboration opportunities with knowledge institutes from across our borders instead of looking at all there is on offer in our own country. That is, if we even know what the other institutes in Belgium are working on!

And that's a shame, because there is so much qualitative research going on in Belgium, so many expertise centers active in so many energy transition domains, that is would be mad not to try and find synergies or ways to strengthen each other. Or of seeing Belgian academics as colleagues, rather than competitors.

There is much to be gained from collaboration within our own country borders: sharpening all academic excellence by learning from each other and having your own work positioned within a much broader scope. But also by joining resources, linking test facilities and not longer having to reinvent the hot water when others have done so already. 

It also offers opportunities to form alliances on topical pathways and to form one united academic center point to offer solutions for industrial, governmental or societal  problems. This way, trying to find the right person, with the right expertise, in the right knowledge institute becomes a lot easier.

Both PhairywinD, on the topic of offshore wind research, and BE-HyFE, doing research on hydrogen, show that cooperation on a Belgian federal level is beneficial for all. For the involved PhDs, of course, in the first place, but also for the larger Belgian academic communities.

Both PhairywinD and BE-HyFE are intra-university collaboration projects, funded by the Belgian federal Energy Transition Fund. In both projects  all of the Belgian knowledge institutes are involved.

They are both based on the Innovative Training Network (ITN) principles, where a group of PhD researchers is extensively trained and is offered a high amount of network opportunities, both on an international academic level and on a Belgian industrial level.

The benefits of this way of working are extensive: We get PhDs from all our universities working together, forming strong bonds between all research departments. Our project PhDs act as ambassadors for their topics within their groups, thus uniting a lot more researchers than only those involved in the project itself; The PhDs we train will not only deliver top-notch research, but will also gain a vast amount of transferrable skills and will be highly networked, giving them a much broader scope on their topic; Through the projects we offer lots of visibility for our academic excellence in the right industrial settings, setting-up industrial-academic networks and collaborations, foremost in the Belgian setting, but also abroad.

Both projects work within the same holistic framework, but on different topics...which might, at the end, even be joined up!


PhairywinD focuses on offshore wind energy, BE-HyFe on hydrogen. Check out both projects below.

“Intra-university collaboration offers opportunities to form alliances on topical pathways and to form one united Belgian academic center point to offer solutions for industrial, governmental or societal problems

Marijke Mahieu, project coordinator EnerghentIC

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