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Image: Tilman2007 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The scheme bringing international scientists to Poland

The Polish Academy of Sciences’ flagship programme to bring international researchers to its country launched its second round on 15 September.

The Pasific Fellowship Programme is funding 50 researchers for two-year visits at one of the state-sponsored academy’s 70 institutes. With 35 fellows selected in the first call, a further 15 fellowships are available in this round.

Open to researchers from any country, in any scientific discipline, the fellowships offer a research budget of up to €93,000 per project, plus a monthly allowance of approximately €2,500, with further funds available for researchers with families.

Candidates must either have a doctoral degree or four years of full-time equivalent research experience. As the scheme is partly funded through the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) programme, which encourages the mobility of researchers, candidates cannot have spent more than one of the three previous years working in Poland before the call deadline, which is on 30 December.

Ewa Kuśmierczyk, Pasific project manager, explains more.

How is the Polish Academy of Sciences structured?

We have 70 institutes covering more or less all fields of study, so candidates will be able to find a suitable place to conduct their research here. We cooperate with other universities and the whole research sector in Poland, but we are an independent legal body.

How is the programme funded?

We get one third of the financing from the Horizon 2020 MSCA programme and the remaining resources from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education. Of course, there are additional resources provided by the Polish Academy of Sciences, mainly in the form of staff time and other non-financial resources.

Is there any upper limit on time since receiving a PhD to be eligible to apply?

In the first call, one-third of the candidates were 40 or above, so they are rather experienced. It’s not only a programme for postdoctoral researchers but also for researchers who are more advanced in their career—they could be a professor. 

We received 348 applications—ten times more than the places we could offer. When we talked with potential supervisors from our institutes, they told us there was huge interest from experienced researchers from abroad.

Where did most of the applications come from?

The highest number of applications came from India, but we also have a lot of applications from Eastern Europe—Ukraine, Belarus, Russia—and some applications from Western European countries, as well as from Egypt and Brazil.

What are the main things you are looking for in proposals?

The primary criterion is scientific excellence, and we would like to receive ideas where the novelty of the proposed idea is really high. 

We assess the achievements the candidate has already gained and the impact the fellowship would have on the career of the researcher. We also assess the impact of a fellowship on the institute, so the candidate needs to know something about the research environment he or she wants to move to.

What is the key aspect for candidates to focus on?

I would advise focusing on the correct selection of a supervisor, because this is a person with whom the successful candidate will work for the next two years. Checking which institute and which collaborators the candidate can gain the most from is crucial for success.

Should candidates have some past experience working with Polish collaborators?

No, we encourage candidates who do not have any history of collaboration with Polish institutes to apply for the grant, but they must find a proper supervisor. We created a list of supervisors that are interested in receiving fellowship applications, which is available on our website. 

We know the first contact might be difficult for the candidates, so we have trained one person in each institute, called a Pasific navigator, to be ready to provide information about the programme, and to help applicants with the preparation of their applications.

Can a university be the place of the secondment?

No. The secondment cannot take place at universities. You can carry out the secondment only at institutions implementing research results, including hospitals, Marshall offices, private enterprises, NGOs and others. They can be situated outside of Poland.

Is this a one-off programme or might you repeat it in future?

We have to wait for the assessment of the results of the programme, but we have already discussed it with the president of the Polish Academy of Sciences and we think we are going to apply again for similar financing from the European Commission. Also, because the Pasific programme is for experienced researchers, we are thinking about creating a similar scheme for PhD students. However, that is not yet confirmed. 

This is an extract from an article in Research Professional’s Funding Insight service. To subscribe contact sales@researchresearch.com