Welcome to the website of the DEFRA research programme (Defence-related Research Action).

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 is in charge of managing 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.

DEFRA is open to the whole Belgian scientific community, preferably in a triple helix composition where academia and industry work together to foster Research and Technology within Defence:

  • universities, colleges of higher education,
  • federal scientific institutions, Belgian Defence research institutions,
  • private non-profit research centres
  • private companies,
  • other public research institutions


In order to maintain the Belgian Defence military and technological edge to face current and future security challenges, scientific and technological research in the domain of security and defence is key.

For this purpose, the Ministry of Defence (2022) 1, seeks to further develop and strengthen the links between Defence, the national research institutions and the industry by gradually increasing its R&T contribution as from 2022, with a view to reaching 2% of the total defence effort in 2030.

The setup of the Defence-related Research Action - DEFRA - fits perfectly in and contributes to the implementation of this strategic vision and general policy for Defence.
The first open call (3 themes, 1.000k€, 2021) has resulted in the start-up of 3 projects in the beginning of 2022. The second call for proposals 4 themes, 6.400k€, 2022) has led to the selection of 6 projects. The third call was open from 7 February 2023 till 27 April 2023. This call includes a budget of 8.800k€ and 5 themes.

In the future, larger open calls with a broader scope will be part of the programme.