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PEGASUS Sintesi della relazione

Project ID: 267216
Finanziato nell'ambito di: FP7-PEOPLE
Paese: Belgium

Periodic Report Summary 2 - PEGASUS (PEGASUS - giving wings to the career of experienced researchers)

In recognition of the value of international mobility for enhancing human resources in science on a regional, national or international level, the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) has set up the Marie Curie COFUND programme called “PEGASUS, giving wings to your career”. The PEGASUS programme is specifically designed to attract more excellent foreign researchers to Flanders via incoming fellowships. Not only will this programme raise the number of international fellows in Flanders, it also offers the incoming fellows a unique opportunity to boost their career by providing support and training all within an optimal research environment and enjoying the best working conditions. The fellows will improve their skills in their specific research domain, via acquisition of new methods and techniques, interaction with group members and mentoring. In addition, fellows will benefit from the intellectual and socio-cultural exchange with their peers and through their immersion in a highly qualified research environment they will help FWO to reach its strategic goal of keeping Flemish research in line with international standards. Moreover, the programme installs a transnational mind-set both among the fellows and their colleagues at the Flemish host institutions, contributing to dissolving regional and national boundaries and bring the European Research Area nearer to completion.

The PEGASUS programme targets experienced researchers working abroad and applicants can be of any nationality and have any scientific background. Selected fellows are offered the same employment conditions as resident researchers and are provided with excellent career development and training opportunities, all in line with the European Charter and Code. The PEGASUS programme includes a 1-year and 3-year incoming fellowship scheme, of which the latter has meanwhile been concluded. The 1-year scheme serves to replace the former FWO visiting postdoctoral fellowship programme and as such raises the standards of this programme with respect to selection procedures and appointment conditions of the fellows. The 3-year scheme intends to open up and expand the current FWO fellowship programme aiming to attract a larger number of experienced researchers to Flanders, a goal which has been reached with great success (see first periodic report).

At the time of writing we have concluded the 48th month of the PEGASUS COFUND programme. Within this time frame, all calls - as planned in the initial programme proposal - have been successfully launched and closed: four calls within the first reporting period (M1-M24) and two calls in the second reporting period (M25-M48) (see schedule 1 for overview). This periodic report will focus solely on the last two calls, but will however also include the fellowships awarded in the first reporting period that were still active in the second reporting period. An overview of the entire programme and all its calls and fellowships will then be given in the final report.

Both calls launched during the second reporting period were successful, resulting in respectively 48 and 116 applications. To a large extent this was thanks to the numerous efforts FWO has done to widely disseminate every new PEGASUS call. The quality of the applicants was high and the selection as such challenging. No less than 23 applicants were selected to start their PEGASUS-short fellowship in Flanders in 2014 and 2015. The overall success rate of these last two calls was 18%, and approximately equals the success rate of the first four calls for the 1-year incoming fellowships (see reporting period 1).
As mentioned in the first periodic report, managing a programme focusing on incoming international mobility involves many challenges, not in the least for the HR department, arranging scientific visa, housing or social security. Nevertheless, the experience in employing international scholars gained of the first PEGASUS calls, was invested in launching every next PEGASUS call, optimising as such our supportive structure for PEGASUS fellows to assist them in all extracurricular activities, training and facilities showing again that the FWO HR Excellence in Research label was well deserved.

One of the aspects that was also optimized during the implementation of the PEGASUS programme was the ethical appraisal procedure. In line with the European Commission’s directives on ethical issues, the FWO monitors ethics in all applications. When preparing their application, applicants are requested to indicate which ethical issues apply to their project and how they will address them. Both research activities carried out at Flemish host institutions and abroad should comply with ethics regulations of all governments and institutions involved. In the second reporting period, there were two FWO granted fellowships where permission from the universities’ ethical committees was necessary. The reports drafted by the ethical commissions were added to the fellows’ PEGASUS files. None of the applications included human embryonic stem cell research.

According to the initial approved PEGASUS proposal, the programme would’ve come to its end last January (2016). However, during the course of the programme, we noticed that because of the flexible starting dates we offered to the incoming fellows, we could not entirely stick to the initial schedule. More specifically, we offered all fellows the possibility to start their fellowship up to five months later than foreseen because the time span between the communication of the results and the envisioned start of the fellowship proved too short to make all necessary arrangements for their stay in Belgium. This was especially applicable for those cases where we had to appoint reserve list candidates due to non-acceptance of the fellowship by the candidates ranked highest. As a result of this measure, the project duration of 48 months as initially agreed upon, will be exceeded by five months. We could however not have foreseen this delay at the point of signing the grant. Therefore, FWO requested a five month extension of the PEGASUS programme, i.e. until 30 June 2016, so as to ensure a neat closure of the programme for all parties involved. As this extension of programme duration comes without additional cost for REA - it just involves the finishing of some of the running mandates that started later than foreseen - REA approved this request for prolongation on the 24th of September 2014 (letter REA-A4/FOH/FG/lb ARES (2014)). Annex 1 of the Grant Agreement No. PCOFUND-GA-2010-267216 was changed accordingly.

Since some of the fellowships are still running due to the introduction of the above mentioned flexible start date, final conclusions on the programme’s impact on the fellows’ career perspectives will be provided in the final report that will be submitted after finalising the entire PEGASUS programme (M54). Conclusions drawn by an external consulting company assessing the management and impact of the programme will be included in this final report as well.

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Hans Willems, (director)
Tel.: +3225501526
Fax: +3225125890
Numero di registrazione: 183745 / Ultimo aggiornamento: 2016-06-14
Fonte d'informazione: SESAM