Chairs at Ghent University: how does it work?

Companies, organizations or private individuals who want to fund scientific research or education on a particular topic can do so through a chair. It is a form of collaboration with the university on new developments in areas of importance to society.

What is a chair?

In a chair, Ghent University researchers and/or lecturers work together with one or more, external partners. These may be companies, organizations or private individuals. The partners finance (part of) the research or teaching activity, and are closely involved in the operation of the chair. For example, partners are kept informed of relevant research results. In this case, the research group provides regular feedback, but retains academic freedom. The funding partner chooses the name of the chair. This can be, for example, the name of a company or of a person they want to honor.

How does a chair create a win-win situation?

  • As a funding partner, you are in close contact with a research team at Ghent University. The additional support provides the opportunity to do more research on a topic that is relevant to both the partner and the broader society.
  • Relevant results arising from the chair are shared with society. We are thinking primarily of workshops for the partner's employees, especially in sectors that are changing rapidly. Thanks to academic insights, employees will be up-to-date in no time.
  • A company visit or contact moment with students as potential new employees can be set up as part of the chair.
  • A communication plan ensures that the partnership is visible to the outside world.
"Chairs create a structural cooperation between companies and the University. This puts scientific expertise within UGent at the service of the community and gives scientists, staff and students the opportunity to engage in direct contact with external stakeholders. The resulting linkages can result in strong partnerships with increasing funding and deeper research questions that can be worked out by the academic partner. They confront academic knowledge with practical societal challenges and, in doing so, offer opportunities in terms of internships for students, industrial experience for employees and the development of valorization pathways."
- Rector Rik Van de Walle

How does funding for a chair come about?

  • Through a bank donation. You receive a tax certificate, and can reclaim part of the donated amount. The collaboration is based on trust, on both sides. Contracts are legally excluded with a bank donation. However, the university draws up a declaration of commitment which contains a number of facts, such as the name of the chair, the supervisor, the target amount, etc.
  • Through sponsorship. You will receive an invoice and pay 21% VAT which is fully tax deductible. A chair agreement contains all the agreements. These concern, for example, the visibility of the chair or the time limits within which the research group must prepare reports.

In both cases, academic freedom applies, so no agreements can be made regarding intellectual property or exclusive use of the results.

What role do you play during the collaboration?

How the collaboration proceeds depends very much on the initiating partner, the content of the chair and the budget.

  • Each chair will have a supervisor. This is a professor from Ghent University who assumes the role of spokesperson, budget holder and responsible for the activities within the chair.
  • Through the chair, resources can be used to do more top research or to strengthen education. This may involve operating funds, but also staff resources. Often the research group very specifically appoints a doctoral student or a guest lecturer to conduct the study. Sometimes the explicit request is to bring in foreign expertise.
  • The University Fund links a steering committee to each chair, which includes representatives from both parties. They meet several times a year to discuss how things are going. We find that interaction and that personal contact very important. This keeps the partners closely involved in the operation of the chair.

Take a look at our brochure for more information about establishing a chair at Ghent University.

Watch the video below and learn more about the importance of Ghent University chairs to the partners involved and to society.

Who do you contact?

If you wish to explore a particular topic in more depth, for whatever reason, please contact Liesbeth Plovie (+32 9 9264 33 87) of the University Fund (the fundraising department of Ghent University). It may also be that you already have contacts with the researchers or lecturers with whom you would like to collaborate further. They will then put you in contact with the University Fund.

Contact the University Fund

Current chairs