First Call for Projects Proposals, Research grants 2022-2023 for Exploratory Projects

Questions and answers

Thematic profile of the program

Question: Are walking with wheelchairs and mobility scooters included in the program?

Answer: Yes. Walking with wheelchairs and other means that enable people with disabilities to walk in urban areas is indeed part of the program.

Question: Are cycling and active travel modes included in this program?

Answer: No, the program is focusing on walking, as a mode of transport.

Geographical aspects

Question: Can the comparative regions be within the same country?

Answer: Basically, yes. However, it is important to motivate your choice of study of regions or cities, whether within the same country or in different countries.

Question: Can the studies include regions outside Africa?

Answer: Yes, the program is global. We also encourage studying regions in different parts of the world.

Question: Are you excluding any geographical areas? Are you targeting any geographical areas? Do you target low-income countries/ cities in particular?

Answer: No. We don’t exclude any geographical context. We prioritize exchange between different regions of the world. We do have – as one of specific priorities – to strengthen research capacity in walking as a mode of transport in low and middle-income countries, but that does exclude any other countries.

Project organization and staffing, composition of research teams

Question: Can a Ph.D. candidate be a team leader with an established researcher as support?

Response: Yes. There is no limitation in terms of your career position, however the applicant team should motivate how they select the team leader, especially if it is a less senior person leading the team. There has to be a quite strong motivation for that.

Question: Can the proposal be a part of thesis research?

Answer: Yes, proposals can be part of thesis research. We encourage research teams to include early career researchers and PhD students as members of their project teams.

Question: If one is a project leader for an ongoing VREF funded project, or a project that has recently ended, can they apply as project leader for this new call?

Answer: Yes, there are no restrictions for how many projects you can lead simultaneously with VREF funding.

Question: Can one apply for funds to build on current ongoing work?

Answer: Basically, yes. However, each application has to be to a single project, well separated from the current project in terms of work plan and activities to be carried out. It should also be well motivated why you propose an extended project.

Question: Is there any limitation on the number of members in the applicant’s group?

Answer: There is no strict limitation on number of members in the research team, however VREF strongly recommend that you consider carefully which competence is really needed to carry out the project. Some expertise might be sufficient to have in a reference group, or be consulted in workshop format.

Question: Can businesses (e.g., route mapping developers), international organizations (e.g. UN agencies) and organizations that are charities/NGOs (e.g. people with disabilities organizations) be included as partners?

Answer: Yes, private companies, international organizations and charities/NGOs can be included as project partners. According to VREF statutes, grant holders should be universities or research institutes of academic standing in research and/or education, so private companies, international organizations and charities/NGOs would have to participate either at their own cost or compensated to a limited extent as project cost.

Project format, methodology and output

Question: In this call, is there a preference towards new research projects or would organizing events on the topic (e.g. small conference) be of interest?

Answer: This call is targeting new research projects. Meetings, such as focus groups, workshops, etc. can be part of the research methodology, but the call does not fund events as such.

Question: Would develop open-source tools that can be used by different stakeholders in multiple contexts (such as “OpenStreetMaps”) be of interest?

Answer: Yes, developing tools and methods is included in this call. N.B. VREF is not funding the development of commercial products. Nonetheless, developing open-source tools can be part of a project.

Question: What does VREF envisage as deliverable of the funded projects?

Answer: Each single project should report findings, either in a scientific article, or in any other established format, e.g. a university working paper, a conference paper, etc.


Question: I have doubts around subsequent years of funding within the Walking programme, where you mention (in the Road Map) three different models for development. Are you looking to maintain size, focus and resources at about the same level as in the bridge-building phase, or will there be room to expand, a little, a lot, somewhere in between in years 2-5? And what will be the proposal development and process for Years 2-5 and then 6-10 (if I understand your roadmap doc)?

Answer: The content, focus and size of subsequent phases of the Walking program is yet to be decided. There is a possibility that projects and findings from the first phase/call can be developed further and expanded in subsequent phases. However, it depends on the outcome of the first phase. Regarding financial allocation, we foresee the size and budget allocation for subsequent phases to be larger than for the bridging phase.

Question: We are currently preparing a proposal for the walking call. Could you advise the best way forward in terms of project leader. The intent is that I lead the project using my guest professor position at an university. Is this acceptable to VREF, or should we assign the lead role to a team member that has a permanent position at an university?

Answer: You can have the lead role in the project provided that you will keep your position at the host university institution throughout the full duration of the project.

Question: We are preparing an application for funding in reply to the last call and I wondered if you could advise us on one aspect: this is how to think about putting in support for activities that are planned to take place in a following year? To be specific, our project takes place over
several years, so while we are mindful that we would need to focus on activities for 2023, we also have in mind final activities and results in 2024.

Answer: VREF’s MAC exploratory projects for next year are expected to consist of 12 months of research/project work which is primarily carried out in 2023. We are open for considering proposals that include activities and final reporting in 2024, but in that case it is important that the application contains a clear motivation for why the project needs an extended time frame, i.e. more than 12 months to successfully complete.