The ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and the ESF (European Social Fund Plus) aim to strengthen social and economic cohesion within the EU and, to this end, finance numerous projects. The University of Mons (UMONS) responded to their first call for projects for the 2021-2027 program concerning Wallonia and submitted with its various partners (universities, research centers, its 4 UMONS Innovation Centers, cities, public companies, etc.) , 31 ERDF and 9 ESF+ project portfolios covering six themes: AI and digital technology, materials, energy, health and biotechnology, agri-food and continuing or work-study training.
Wallonia, one of the three Belgian regions, has five provinces: Walloon Brabant, Liège, Namur, Luxembourg and Hainaut where UMONS is located. The University is actively dedicated to research, which relies on nearly 900 researchers and 450 doctoral students in 10 research institutes. It has set up the UMONS Innovation Network, a network that brings together university-related partners around the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship and recently launched the UMONS Innovation Center label, making it possible to highlight the close partnership it maintains with approved research centers or with dedicated centres.
The four UMONS Innovation Centers
UMONS collaborates with four research centers for many of its projects, these are:
- Materia Nova, founded by UMONS in 2000, which is dedicated to the development of materials and processes in the fields of energy, the environment, mechanics and metallurgy, transport and health.
- Multitel, created in 1995, at the initiative of the Polytechnic Faculty of the University of Mons with the support of the FEDER, one of the major players in digital transformation in Wallonia. It has 80 researchers specialized in AI, Applied Photonics, IoT and embedded systems, Network and Telecommunications and addresses the following fields: Aeronautics, Transport, Medical, Defense, Logistics, Smart Cities and Industry 4.0.
- Click: A joint initiative of UMONS, IDEA and many entrepreneurial players, CLICK is dedicated to stimulating creativity and innovation, particularly in the digital and creative industries fields. It brings together a Fablab, a Hub, a Living Lab and the Click N’Start (incubator for student/researcher entrepreneurs).
- BCRC (Belgian Ceramic Research Center), research, test and analysis laboratory whose fields of activity are materials (research and development, analysis, certification, advice and expertise), soils (geotechnics and sampling), environment (sampling and analyses).
Furthermore, as part of the previous program, where it had benefited from 15 projects, UMONS had joined forces with ULiège and ULB for the “Wallonia Biomed” portfolio around 4 strong axes: imaging, immunology, human biological samples and bioprofiling, which gave birth to the BIOPROFILING platform. UMONS and ULB also benefited from this financial support to create CMMI, an integrated and efficient preclinical biomedical imaging platform.
UMONS project portfolios for the 2021-2027 program
The 40 portfolios submitted by UMONS, during the 1st APP of the 2021-2027 program, represent a budget of more than €280 million for the partners who have committed themselves alongside it.
UMONS relied on its four UMONS Innovation Centers as well as on the CMMI and Bioprofiling technological platforms for 22 of them, 11 portfolios are the result of a collaboration with Materia Nova, 8 with Multitel, 6 with the BCRC , 4 with Click, 2 with CMMI and 2 with Bioprofiling. The university is the lead for five of these portfolios.
For the other wallets introduced by UMONS, the partners are:
- The IDEA Territorial Development Agency;
- Cities and towns;
- Universities and colleges: ULiège, Condorcet, UCLouvain, ULB, UNamur;
- Research centers: CRA-W, CETIC, Certech, Cenaero, etc.
The 5 portfolios coordinated by UMONS
These portfolios relate to different areas
UP-PLASTICS relates to the field of materials
Its objective is to design circular plastic materials (thermal and/or electromagnetic insulators, paints, glues and adhesives) through the transformation and recovery of renewable inputs (biomass, CO2), waste (from the construction sector, such as wood, PVC, etc.) and raw materials of entomological origin (insects).
Sustainable Energy Communities in Wallonia (SECWA) dedicated to energy
It aims to develop/apply various tools aimed at mapping energy demand and energy potential in Wallonia but also to integrate essentially technological research activities with a view to developing collaborative research projects with Walloon companies focused on demonstrating communities of energy. Heat/Cold/Electricity energy.
In the field of social inclusion, UMONS has introduced 2 ESF+ portfolios:
- ARIS (Academy of Recovery and Social Inclusion).
ARIS aims to promote and develop the recovery and social inclusion of the most deprived people and those exposed to the risk of poverty and/or social exclusion, and more particularly young people aged 16 to 23. In these ARIS, the sick, precarious or victim will (re)appropriate a role of student, building a personalized training course, choosing training courses designed as tools for self-knowledge, of their disorders and deficits and of the ways to deal with it.
- APPI whose objective is to consider child poverty from a multidimensional perspective.
Working with parents, promoting their professional integration, their participation and their social inclusion will necessarily have a positive impact on the rest of the family sphere and, by extension, on the children. Thus, it is necessary to consider the fight against poverty and the fight against child poverty in a complementary way.
- next generation XRportfolio for digital.
This last portfolio coordinated by UMONS aims to bring out technological and methodological innovations in the field of immersive and interactive technologies in the Walloon Region. It revolves around three axes: Meta-Humans, Metaverse and XR-5G.
Philippe Dubois, Rector of UMONS concludes:
“As part of the 2014-2020 program, the University of Mons has benefited from 15 ERDF and ESF+ portfolios, we hope today with the number of applications received to be able to carry out even more ambitious projects and in direct line with our our own strategy for the deployment of promising sectors and our strong desire to promote sustainable development. In addition, we claim to be the University of Hainaut and as such, all the files returned are really anchored in Hainaut, in the whole of our Province and that, from Tournai to Charleroi, via La Louvière in particular. »
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UMONS introduces 40 ERDF-ESF+ project portfolios for a budget of more than 280 million euros
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