Core facilities are not new; many examples already exist in Belgium and abroad. From now on, however, ‘KU Leuven Core Facility’ is a protected title. This means that facilities are only allowed to use this name if they have successfully completed the recognition procedure.
A lot of factors come into play when assessing the applications, explains Vice Rector for Research Policy Reine Meylaerts. “It's not enough just to have expensive equipment. You also need to be able to appeal to a broad group of users and support them in the use of your infrastructure.”
In addition, Core Facilities must have a long-term vision that allows for interdisciplinary cooperation. Meylaerts: “A researcher from biomedical sciences who turns to a colleague with a more technical background: this can form the basis of interesting projects, but also new research techniques or adapted equipment that other researchers can, in turn, use. That's what we want to encourage. In this respect, the recognition of KU Leuven Core Facilities – similarly to that of the first KU Leuven Institutes – is a logical result of the emphasis placed on interdisciplinarity in the Strategic Plan.”
Visible at the top
But the system has other advantages as well, adds Rector Luc Sels. “By increasing the visibility of KU Leuven Core Facilities, among other things by introducing them to candidates and including them on our websites, we can attract more top researchers from Belgium and abroad. This constant search for talent ties in with our pursuit of excellence in research. Core Facilities can, of course, support research commissioned by companies or other external organisations, but our end goal is always to provide more valuable research of international quality.”
Researchers from KU Leuven and other institutions who want to use certain infrastructure can make a reservation via the online booking system of the Core Facility. They will then immediately receive more information about the procedures and costs involved.
This article was first published on 29 October by KU Leuven.