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Portrait of Emile Francqui

Emile FrancquiOur compatriot Emile Francqui was born in 1863 and died in 1935. During his stay in China commissioned by king Leopold III, Francqui met future president Hoover of the United States. At the outbreak of World War I he was contacted by Hoover to intervene in the distribution of the aid collected in America for our needy compatriots. In the end it was decided to spend the remaining funds on the reconstruction of Belgium. The importance of the universities in the future development of the country was recognized. In line with this opinion, more than half of the funds was assigned to the universities. The important role played by Francqui as a visionary driving force for the future successful development of the academic structures of Belgium here therefore is clearly reflected. He campaigned for the establishment of the University Foundation, the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF), the FWO (Research Foundation – Flanders) and the ITG (Institute of Tropical Medicine). Eventually he built a further career, both in industry and in politics.

Finally, in 1932, Francqui and Hoover founded a foundation together, that they entrusted with an important capital, with the task "to promote the development of higher education and scientific research in Belgium". This fund was, at the insistence of Hoover, named after Emile Francqui in order to honour the man who had done so much for his country and for science.

Even now, the academic world in our country can enjoy the benefits of this capital in the form of the support provided by the Francqui Foundation. Under the expert guidance of its Executive Director, Pierre Van Moerbeke, the Foundation today translates its calling to encourage the prestige of disinterested fundamental research, especially by awarding the Francqui Prize and the Francqui Chairs. The Foundation also assigns Francqui Research Professors and awards fellowships to young compatriots for graduate study and research in the United States (through BAEF, the Belgian American Education Foundation). In this manner, indisputably, a strong support is offered to our researchers.