Our website uses cookies to improve your experience. To make optimal use of this website please agree to our cookie policy.

I agree I do not agree.

TEAM projects

TEAM projects are medium-term projects that aim to explore, build and deepen academic/scientific collaborations among diverse teams. TEAM projects focus on a specific sustainable development challenge. In addition to strengthening research and educational capacities of higher education and science institutions, TEAM projects create the conditions for uptake of new and relevant knowledge, applications and/or services by all academic, civil society, private and public actors.

Why are TEAM projects important?

In Flanders and elsewhere, higher education institutions are increasingly acknowledging their pivotal role in contributing to the necessary changes for the global goal of sustainable development. Through research, HEIs play a unique role as drivers of change, producing new knowledge and innovation to address global challenges, transferring knowledge through training, providing evidence for informed (public) policy and implementation, and mobilising knowledge. HEIs have also taken up a central role in providing education in global citizenship to foster global understanding, intercultural awareness and values that enable students to play an active role in solving global challenges. Through service delivery and community engagement, HEIs work with a wide range of stakeholders - including governments, the private sector and civil society - to achieve local, national, regional and global impacts. As such, higher education has a direct impact on the development of any country. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will not be achieved without partnerships with and contributions from HEIs.

Globally, however, Higher Education Institutes and their stakeholders (i.e. staff, students and alumni) still face challenges including access, capacity and uptake to unlock the full potential of higher education for sustainable development. Scholarship programmes and global partnerships in the field of higher education are considered essential in mitigating several of these challenges. They offer opportunities to enhance the quality of teaching and research, strengthen the organisational capacities of higher education institutions, foster political and economic relations through their scholars, mitigate financial and capacity constraints and accommodate the growing demand for equitable access to higher education services. 

How do TEAM projects connect with SDG principles?

The SDG principles serve as a compass in VLIR-UOS endeavour of sharing minds, changing lives. They are transversally integrated to render the activities and change processes SDG-proof.  VLIR-UOS considers global engagement for higher education as a goal (SDG 4: Quality Education) and a means for attaining other SDGs through knowledge co-creation, transfer and valorisation.

SDG principles

  • Interconnectedness: In the face of the global crisis caused by Covid-19, it has become evident that our world is deeply interconnected and that global solutions are needed more than ever. Interconnectedness is one of the principles at the heart of Agenda 2030, which points to the fact that all 17 SDGs are interlinked and mutually influence each other. To accelerate progress towards realising the Agenda, a more integrated approach that addresses multiple goals simultaneously is needed, rather than narrow, sectorial approaches that focus on one goal, or an excessively narrow subset of goals, at a time. Furthermore, the importance of transnational approaches is underscored by the interlinked and universal nature of the global challenges to sustainable development.

  • Multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSP): The principle of multi-stakeholder partnership promotes cooperation and partnerships at different stages and spanning the boundaries of civil society, private sector, government, and academia. The concerted effort of a variety of stakeholders is required given the complexity, scale, and interconnectedness of the current societal challenges. Multi-stakeholder partnerships are a strong instrument for achieving development goals, as stakeholders have “unique complementary strengths” that add value to development efforts and allow them to pool their resources and assets in solving problems, thereby creating sustainable and significant impact at all levels of action.

  • Leave no one behind: Leave No One Behind (LNOB) is one of the guiding principles of the UN Agenda 2030 and its SDGs. The principle requires that the Agenda’s goals and targets should be met for all nations and people and for all segments of society, even reaching first those who are left behind the furthest. It requires that every single person is included in the rate of progress, since many of the barriers people face in accessing services, resources and equal opportunities are not simply accidents of fate or a lack of availability of resources, but rather the result of discriminatory laws, policies and social practices that leave particular groups of people increasingly far behind. Women and girls are often at the top of the ‘most marginalised’ list. LNOB focuses on tackling the structural causes of inequality and marginalisation that affect them. It requires a collective effort to identify and share effective strategies to operationalise this concept. VLIR-UOS’s commitment to mainstream (gender equality) is part of its Equality and Inclusion Policy, for which an action plan was developed for the period 2020-2024. Short Initiatives, in particular, aim to be accessible for academics and researchers at the early stages of their academic career who are interested to explore the potential for higher education for sustainable development.

Synergy and complementarity and transversal themes

Synergy and complementarity

  • ARES, VLIR-UOS and the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) developed a thematic Joint Strategic Framework on Higher Education and Science for Sustainable Development (tJSF HES4SD) to better reach the objectives in the Royal Decree and Law of 2016 on coordination and concertation, synergy and complementarity and collective learning in a more effective and strategic manner.

    Synergy and complementarity (S&C) can improve the impact of development cooperation interventions and is a top priority of the Belgian minister of Development Cooperation and encouraged by the reform of non-governmental cooperation in 2016.

    The focus of Agenda 2030 on meaningful impact through multi-stakeholder partnerships resonates with the FYP2 ambition “Connect4Change” to focus on cooperation among and beyond academic actors (CONNECT), societal impact (valorisation), and collective learning.

    These policy ambitions have been translated in the project selection criteria and descriptors for all programmes. That way VLIR-UOS wants to stimulate new projects to capitalize on former and/or other relevant projects in the same context or topic, and interinstitutional cooperation among and beyond academic actors. This will be an added value in the competitive selection of projects.

    VLIR-UOS revised its country approach towards an ‘Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development’ centred approach. Moreover, VLIR-UOS wants to facilitate connections between different actors and projects present in a given country, and cross-borders within the broader framework of the tJSF HES4SD.

    With these objectives in mind, Country Reference Frameworks (CRF) have been established to support teams of academics when identifying and formulating project proposals, by providing a context analysis per country focused on Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development and the higher education sector, and by providing an overview of Belgian development actors active in the country (Enabel, ANGC), their ongoing projects and partners, in view of exploration of opportunities for synergy and complementarity.

    The country reference frameworks were elaborated for the 17 partner countries and Belgium in the VLIR-UOS project partner country list.

Transversal themes

  • As to reach sustainable and inclusive development, SI and TEAM projects are expected to take gender and the protection of the environment and natural resources into account as transversal themes. VLIR-UOS therefore urges projects to integrate the transversal themes throughout all phases of project proposal development and management.

  • In addition to integrating these transversal themes as put forward by the Belgian regulatory framework for development cooperation, VLIR-UOS identifies Digital for Development (D4D), decolonisation and global citizenship as priority themes which play an important role in reaching the SDGs. Respect for decent work and human rights are also major policy areas for the entire VLIR-UOS portfolio and projects, calling for action to prevent and protect involved people and beneficiaries from risks related to violations in these areas. These aspects will be further explored in the course of the FYP2.

  • Specifically for Digital for development (D4D) a D4D flash card was developed during FYP1 to support project promoters in formulating project proposals and annual reports.

Informative powerpoint on synergy and complementarity and transversal themes

TEAM projects and Theory of Change

Theory of change

VLIR-UOS proposes a Theory of Change (ToC) approach that outlines how and why VLIR-UOS can be expected to achieve its intended societal impact through changes by and in higher education institutes (HEIs), local communities/civil society, governments, and the private sector. All projects should fit in the generic Theory of Change for SI and TEAM projects. In the long run, Short Initiatives and TEAM projects are expected to contribute to more sustainable and equitable development by fostering application of solutions and evidence-based policies, a global community of skilled individuals who act as global citizens in relevant sectors, and knowledge-driven global partnerships.

By relying upon the SDG Principles of leaving no one behind, interconnectedness and multi-stakeholder partnerships as our compass, VLIR-UOS envisions that contributions to these impact areas will foster equality and inclusion in higher education systems and society at large. Moreover, depending on the thematic focus of the supported projects and resultant knowledge, the impact areas may reflect contributions to all global goals covered by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Strategic axes & 6 outcomes

To effectively contribute to these generic objectives, VLIR-UOS focuses on two strategic axes that mutually reinforce each other: (1) enabling HE&SIs to strengthen and take up their role as Drivers of Change and (2) enabling individuals to act as Agents of Change. Along these strategic axes, VLIR-UOS identifies six outcomes of which 2, 4 and 5 are the most important for SI and TEAM projects. Iindividual projects may choose to focus on a subset of outcomes depending on the priorities and needs of local stakeholders, but it must be noted that all SI and TEAM projects are mandated to ensure that their change process contributes to outcome 5. Each project is required to document their choices in their project-specific Theory of Change to ensure that they are consistent with the programme's vision for change. The six outcomes are:

1.       Individuals apply relevant co-created knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

2.       HE&SIs provide higher quality and more inclusive education.

3.       HE&SIs make use of improved organisational systems, processes, and structures.

4.       HE&SIs conduct higher quality and needs-oriented research.

5.       HE&SIs create enhanced conditions for uptake of new knowledge, applications or services.

6.       HE&SIs and their stakeholders engage in knowledge driven science-society interactions.

Domains of change

In general, SI and TEAM projects are expected to bring about outputs in six (project) domains of intermediate change: (1) Research programmes and methods, (2) Education programmes and methods, (3) Outreach and policy support, (4) People, (5) Systems, policies and infrastructure, (6) Networks and partnerships. Individual projects should undertake deliverables and activities that fit within the six domains through partnerships between HE&SIs and other local, national or global stakeholders. The deliverables, processes and changes in these domains are interlinked and not mutually exclusive. Thereby, it is important to keep in mind that expectations concerning these domains should vary for TEAM projects in view of their distinct scope (in terms of time and budget). It is important to state that the TEAM projects will document their choices and envisaged changes through a project-specific ToC. 

Who can apply for a TEAM project?

What's important? 

Affiliation of the promoters:

  • Flemish promoter: employed as a professor/lecturer/specialist at a Flemish university or university of applied sciences and arts.

  • Partner promoter: employed at a recognized higher education institution or national public (not for profit) research institute located in a VLIR-UOS project partner country.

Additional criteria:

  • Applicants (Flemish and local) can have up to two ongoing SI/TEAM projects, which means that they can submit a maximum of two projects (two SI, two TEAM or one SI and one TEAM) if they have no ongoing projects after 1 September 2022.

  • Since almost all VLIR-UOS projects end on 31 August 2022, only the TEAM 2019 projects should be considered ongoing projects. TEAM 2019 promoters can only submit one new SI or TEAM.

  • No further criteria apply at the partner institution level. Former and current IUC partner institutions are fully eligible without any restrictions. 

What are the eligible project partner countries?

Higher education and science institutions located in 17 project partner countries:

Benin, Bolivia, Burundi, Cuba, DR Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam

What is the maximum budget and duration of a TEAM?

  • Project budgets amount to a maximum of 280.000 EUR for five years.

  • Overall budget for TEAM 2022 amounts to 10.920.000 EUR (approx. 39 projects).

Who can submit a proposal?


An application involves a Flemish and local promoter but it is the Flemish promoter who submits to the ICOS of the Flemish university (association) for quality control. The ICOS will validate and submit to VLIR-UOS.


Project applications are submitted online.

Assessment procedure

  • All project proposals will be assessed and selected based on four standard selection criteria: Relevance and coherence of the project;Quality of the project design; Implementation set-up of the project; Potential impact and sustainability.
    Project proposals are assessed by Regional Selection Commissions (Africa, Asia, Latin America) that will take place in March 2022 (stage 1) and in the 1st week of July 2022 (indicative) (stage 2). The selection decision for the different stages will be communicated shortly after the ratification of the decision by the Bureau UOS.

Two-stage procedure

  • Concept note: focus on a narrative description of the developmental problem, the project objectives, and the scientific approach (research and pedagogical methods, type of multidisciplinary and community-based approaches, vision on uptake and valorisation). No operation-al/budget details.

  • Fully-fledged proposal: fully elaborated Theory of Change, intermedi-ate changes and activities, risk and stakeholder analysis and budget-ing.

  • A peer review system applies on TEAM project proposals that are selected for Stage 2. This independent peer review focuses on the scien-tific/methodological quality and is applied on the selected concept note proposals. The written peer-review assessments per project will be made available to the applicants during the elaboration stage of the fully-fledged proposals for applicants to take into account the peer review assessments when finalizing the fully-fledged proposal

Timing & deadlines

  • Concept notes
    Call for Concept notes: 30 November 2021
    Submission Concept notes: 18 February 2022

  • Fully fledged proposals
    Call for Fully Fledged proposals: 25 March 2022 (indicative)
    Submission Fully Fledged proposals: 2 June 2022

Possible start of the project

Selected projects will be able to start as of 1 September 2022 at the earliest.

More info & application

Check out the recordings of the Information Session

A VLIR-UOS Information Session on TEAM-SI Calls took place on 8 december 2021, from 1 to 3 PM, CET: please find here the powerpoint presentations:

1. What is new in SI-TEAM 2022 ?

2. Basic information SI-TEAM 2022 Call

3. Intro to the SI-TEAM 2022 Formats

4. Coherence - S&C - Themes

5. Outline QA information session SI-TEAM

Ideas for cooperation with Belgian Non-Governmental actors

Need inspiration for a TEAM project? Here are some ideas for your project proposal!

Following the various ongoing calls for proposals, VLIR-UOS conducted a short survey among Belgian non-governmental actors to collect their ideas for University cooperation for development in synergy/complementarity with their activities. 

The result is a range of potential initiatives that aim to increase the impact of Higher Education for Sustainable Development (HE4SD) through synergy and complementarity.

Get inspired by these ideas blending various research questions with transversal themes (gender and protection of the environment)! If you are triggered by a topic, feel free to contact the initiating organisation mentioned. You can find the list of contacts here.


01. - Children's Rights: Develop tools to better accompany street children in Africa - together with Dynamo International

02. - Children's rights: Research on the current state of violence against children in Rwanda - together with Humanity & Inclusion

03. - Climate change: Youth engagement in climate-change action: understanding the profile of youth mobilized for climate justice - together with Plan International

04. - Education: Action-based research among school leaders involved in Professional Learning Communities - together with VVOB

05. - Education: Impact research on teachers’ Knowledge, Attitude & Practice regarding foundational literacy skills - together with VVOB

06. - Education: Qualitative research to further explore blended delivery of Continuous Professional Development - together with VVOB

07. - Education: Research for policy development on social inclusion in schools - together with VIA Don Bosco, Light For The World and Plan International

08. - Education: Research on the impact of the professional development trajectory on instructional school leadership - together with VVOB

09. - Education: strengthen measurement tools and techniques to monitor and evaluate gender-transformative learning outcomes - together with Plan International

10. - Entrepreneurship: Results and impact of various financing models to SMEs - together with Trias

11. - Health: Identify social and behavioral factors that affect human and animal health and its management (controlled surveillance) - together with VSF-B

12. - Health: Research into innovative rehabilitation/revalidation techniques adapted to the rehabilitation needs of the populations of Burundi - together with APEFE

13. - Health: Research on conservation and restoration of forests - together with Vietnam Museum of Nature

14. - Health: Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (One Health perspective), Antibiotic resistance, emerging viral infections - together with ITM

15. - Health: Research on safe blood supply with RKV supported by Centre for Evidence-Based Practice (CEBAP) - together with RKV

16. - Human Rights: research on the situation of the exercise of civic space in Burundi - together with ASF

17. - Industry innovation: Follow up on study on the development of the extractive sector - together with ASF

18. - Natural disasters: Research on natural hazards and associated risks in Central Africa - together with Royal Museum for Central Africa

19. - Resilient Ecosystems: Research on the minimum conditions for water source protection and the effect of tree planting - together with Join for Water

20. - Rural development: Evaluate rural development initiatives and provide insight into their effectiveness - together with WWF

21. - Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems: Research on oxo-biodegradable plastic and alternatives to pack potable water - together with Durabilis

22. - Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems: Research on Stevia as an alternative sweetener in beverages - together with Durabilis

23. - Sustainable Agriculture: An analysis of the dairy value chain in Rwenzori sub-region for farmer economic empowerment and sustainability of the sector - together with VSF-B

24. - Sustainable Agriculture: Design and operationalization of a quality management system for the apiculture sector in Uganda - together with Trias

25. - Sustainable Agriculture: Research on trends and impacts of Highly Hazardous Pesticides and their use in Uganda - together with Broederlijk Delen

26. - Sustainable Agriculture: Transforming Small scale Subsistence Farmers (SSFs) into ecologically responsible growth-oriented entrepreneurs in Tanzania - together with Trias

27. - Sustainable cities: Develop value chains and micro-enterprises of non-timber forest products for the local communities in conservation and protected areas - together with WWF

28. - Sustainable cities: Involvement of diasporas in decentralized cooperation in Belgium and in Morocco - together with Echos

29. - Sustainable cities: Street social work from inclusion to decent work - together with Dynamo International

30. - Urbanisation and gender equality: What are the effects of urbanisation on gender equality? - together with VVSG

Click here to find even more ideas!




Info session SI-TEAM Call

Watch video

Our new Theory of Change

Watch video

Call preview SI-TEAM 2022

Watch video

Intro to the SI-TEAM 2022 formats

Watch video

Short intro to our new selection criteria

watch video

The ENSET TEAM project has built a bridge between researchers and people who, up until now, had little access to any scientific information on Enset

Karen Vancampenhout, teamleader ENSET, KU Leuven

Other call types

Short Initiatives (SI)

Short Initiative (SI) are short-term projects that aim to explore, build and deepen academic/scientific collaborations among diverse teams. SI projects focus on a specific sustainable development challenge. In addition to strengthening research and educational capacities of higher education and science institutions, Short Initiatives create the conditions for uptake of new and relevant knowledge, applications and/or services by all development actors.

More info Call open

Scholarships for Masters (ICP Connect)

ICP Connect study programmes are accredited international study programmes organised at one or more Flemish universities. The programmes focus on subjects aligned with the Agenda 2030 and SDG principles. VLIR-UOS supports a selection of 15 ICPs and provides an annual intake of 10 new first-year scholarships for each ICP.

More info Call open