During World War I, Herbert Hoover and Emile Francqui worked together in the « Commission for Relief of Belgium » (CRB). Funds for this commission were collected in Belgium and in different countries, including the United States. After the war, Emile Francqui and the CRB had still significant funds at their disposal. It then was decided to use them for the reconstruction of Belgium. In the opinion of Herbert Hoover and Emile Francqui, the best investment for this reconstruction lay with the universities.
In addition to financial support for universities and the creation of: the University Foundation, the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF), and the National Fund for Scientific Research (NFSR); Emile Francqui and Herbert Hoover decided to set up a foundation to promote the development of higher education and scientific research in Belgium. Thus, in 1932, the Francqui Foundation was born. Herbert Hoover insisted that the Foundation be named after Emile Francqui in order to make the memory continue to the man who had done so much for his country and for science.
The Francqui Foundation was established by a Royal Decree of February 25, 1932, as a Foundation for Public Utility.
The purpose of the Francqui Foundation is to encourage the prestige of the unselfish fundamental investigation. To this end it grants undeniable moral support to our scientists. The articles of association clearly state that its objective is to encourage and offer support to the development of higher education and scientific research in Belgium. Implicitly, this also means that inter-university cooperation is encouraged.
The Francqui Foundation works to make this objective a reality around four major initiatives :
1) The Francqui Prize (or Francqui-Collen Prize in the bio-medical sector) is meant to recognize the merit of a Belgian scholar. The Prize represents an important financial amount, but it also has an irrefutable prestige by the presentation of the Prize by the King himself.
2) The Francqui Chairs (or Collen-Francqui Chairs in the bio-medical sector) : each University may annually propose to the Foundation to organize one or more cycles of lectures on a specific topic. The Francqui Foundation will invite a Belgian or international professor who will occupy this Chair, and will organize a top-level educational cycle in his/her field. These Chairs encourages exchanges between Belgian Universities. The inaugural lesson of such a cycle is usually the opportunity to bring together all the personalities of the discipline concerned and to emphasize this cooperation.
3) Mandates :
– The International Francqui Professor (or International Collen-Francqui Professor in the bio-medical sector) : The possibility exists to invite foreign scholars each year for a three to six-month stay (« Sabbatical »). These Chairs are divided as follows: one for the Exact Sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry and related); one for the Human Sciences (literature, philosophy, art and related) and one for the Biological and Medical Sciences. These Chairs must be requested by two or more Universities. The holder of such a Chair stays at one of them but divides his activity over several institutions. This should allow us to strengthen scientific cooperation with foreign countries and to expand the horizons of our young university staff.
– Sinds 2008, the Francqui Foundation grants a mandate of Francqui Research Professor (or Collen-Francqui Research Professor in the bio-medical sector) at the University for a period of three years. With this mandate, the Foundation gives the opportunity to a professor or a young researcher to dedicate himself to the research, with a reduced teaching assignment.
– Sinds 2019, the Francqui Foundation proposes to award every two years a research grant to the University with the name Francqui Start-Up Grant (or Collen-Francqui Start-Up Grant in the bio-medical sector). This allowance focuses on young researchers under the age of 40 who wish to be recruited by the University as academic staff .
4) The Francqui Fellowships : The Francqui Foundation works together with the Belgian American Educational Foundation, Inc. (BAEF), in the program of scholarships for young Belgians who wish to perfect themselves by staying at an American university. Each year the Foundation provides grants for a few fellowships for one year.
Between 2006 and 2013 the Francqui Foundation also organized of a certain number (four per year) of Mandates of Intercommunity Scientific Postdoctoral Collaborators. These were mandates with a six months duration, which were granted to young Belgian researchers. These mandates were intercommunitary, as that they were carried out in a University of linguistic statute, different from that of the person proposed. A candidate was expected to have the linguistic statute of the University where he/she obtained his/her end diploma, or the linguistic statute of the University which occupied him/her at the time of the request for granting of such a mandate.