DEFence-related Research Action (DEFRA)

What is DEFRA?

Defence-related Research Action (DEFRA) is a multi-year scientific and technological research programme with an annual call directed at the Belgian research institutions and industry, in fields and based on themes considered a priority by the Belgian Defence. The submitted projects should act as a leverage for Defence, research institutions and the industry to improve their technological level. They form the basis for a successful participation in other programmes, such as the European Defence Fund (EDF) or DIANA.


DEFRA aims to establish project-based R&T partnerships between Defence, academia and the industry according to the triple helix model in order to:

  • improve knowledge transfer between research institutes and industry.
  • introduce entrepreneurs’ insight into research.
  • include potential end users in research and innovation.


The DEFRA research programme results from a cooperation between the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) and the Royal Higher Institute for Defence (RHID).
The RHID oversees the DEFRA research programme, the funding and the follow-up of the selected projects. BELSPO is in charge of the organisation and the management of the call for proposals.

Who can apply?

The DEFRA call is open to consortia composed of

  • at least one Belgian (public or private non-profit) research institute
  • at least one Belgian company

For certain specific themes, it may be mandatory to include a Belgian Defence research institute (the Royal Military Academy (RMA), the Military Hospital Queen Astrid (MHQA) or the Defence Laboratories) as a network partner.

How to apply?

The conditions of participation and the procedure for submitting proposals is published every year and announced through different channels, amongst which an information day.


The generic timing for the DEFRA call is as follows:

Deadline pre-proposals: February
Scientific peer review evaluation: May
Written feedback by applicants: July
Panel evaluation, incl. interviews with the applicants: Augustus – September
Final selection: September – October
Contract signature: November
Start projects: December

For more concrete dates on the current call, please consult the following link.

Terms & conditions

The projects will have a duration of two to maximum four years.

The funding rules are defined in the information document and may vary depending on the calls. Currently:

  • financing a public research institute or a private non-profit research centre is set to a maximum of 100% of the eligible costs.
  • financing a private company is limited to a maximum of 65% of the eligible costs for LargeCap enterprises, of maximum 75% for MidCap and 80% for SMEs. The remaining % is indicated in the proposal as the partner contribution.

External links