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Croatian Researchers' Mobility Network

Final Report Summary - HR-MOB (Croatian researchers' mobility network)

Executive summary:

At the end of the HR-MOB project it became evident that Croatia is becoming more open to international cooperation in science and technology due to significant development of researchers' mobility infrastructure.

With the support of the European Commission (EC) and the HR-MOB project, the Croatian research area has gained many added values, such as:

- detailed guidance on administrative issues for mobile researchers is available in electronic version on the web platform www.euraxess.hr and in the print version of the publication 'A foreign researcher's guide to Croatia';
- mobile researchers in Croatia have at their disposal a well-trained network of local contact points, administrative staff at Research and development (R&D) organisations all over Croatia and experienced staff at the EURAXESS service Zagreb (ESCZG) specialized in legal, financial and other mobility issues.

During the project period the EURAXESS tools and services have been actively promoted an indicator of the success this campaign has had over the past few years is a result of research undertaken with the Google search tool which has proved that EURAXESS was mentioned on 58 000 webpages in the Croatian web space (excluding the national EURAXESS website). Highly specialised and trained staff of the ESCZG has been an active player in the implementation of the European partnership for researchers in Croatia and has significantly contributed to the formulation and implementation of the action plan for mobility of researchers 2009-2010, and the action plan for mobility of researchers 2011-2012. First biggest achievements of policy-related activities are the implementation of the scientific visa package into the Croatian legislation which has enabled 48 foreign researchers to conduct research in Croatia. The second is the implementation of the Charter and Code principles which has led to 33 endorsements and 6 HR excellence in research awards.

Thanks to the support from the EC and EURAXESS tools such as the jobs portal, the recruitment process in Croatia has changed significantly and has contributed to the development of an attractive, open and sustainable European labour market. With the support of the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports and ESCZG, in the last three years more than 300 jobs have been published on the EC EURAXESS website. A large number of publicly funded research jobs published online and an extensive promotional campaign have brought thousands of visitors to www.euraxess.hr website and have made the Croatian research area more visible on the global scene.

The appreciation and recognition of efforts and achievements of ESCZG in the period 2008 - 2011 has been demonstrated by the Government of the Republic of Croatia by putting the sustainability of ESCZG as one of the actions of the economic recovery plan, government's key tool for improving the business and investment climate in Croatia. Successful implementation of this activity indicates that the activities foreseen by the HR-MOB project will continue to run smoothly in the future, as well.

It is also very important to note that the HR-MOB project staff had a strong support from the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports and all the above mentioned results and achievements are fruits of a successful and trustworthy cooperation and communication on everyday basis.

Thanks to the successful implementation of HR-MOB project, better prospects for international cooperation and the free movement of knowledge, which is one of the main pillars of Innovation Union, are created.

Project context and objectives:

Main objectives of the HR-MOB project were:

1. To create the Croatian mobility network involving universities, research institutes, governmental agencies and companies in order to connect and incorporate them into one system facilitating researchers' mobility through the mobility centre.

The first and also the main objective of the HR-MOB project, establishment of researchers' mobility network in Croatia was successfully achieved and as such ensures a smooth integration of the Croatian research area into the European Research Area (ERA). The mobility network is currently composed of the agency for mobility and EU programmes, serving as bridgehead organisation and mobility centre, and nine contact points at research institutions (all public universities and two research institutes). Great support in the establishment of this network was provided by the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports which recommended research organisations to join this network and providing persons to serve as local contact points. Thanks to EC and the EURAXESS TOP project, members of the Croatian researchers' mobility network have participated at several trainings organised all over Europe and are currently well equipped with adequate skills needed to provide good quality service to mobile researchers.

2. To develop quality assistance in mobility issues to researchers in dealing with legal and administrative matters like visa issues, temporary stay, work and residence permits, health and social security issues, as well as to develop services and proximity assistance by various means and deliver practical information on accommodation, day-care or education for children and give advice on job opportunities for the accompanying partner.

The network has developed mobility information services to researchers and research institutions. The mobility information services include information dissemination as well as personal assistance offered by the mobility centre personnel to facilitate researchers' mobility. In the past three years assistance was provided to numerous mobile researchers and more than 500 questions were answered.

Quality assistance in mobility issues such visa issues, temporary stay , work and residence permits, health and social security issues were gathered in three types of publications:

i. Three editions of 'A foreign researcher's guide to Croatia' published in English in 2009, 2010 and 2011 in both printed and pdf version.
ii. Mobility handbook published in Croatian for the administrative staff of Croatian R&D institutions and available on the Croatian EURAXESS website.
iii. Practical information section on the EURAXESS Croatia website: www.euraxess.hr > Incoming Researchers > Practical Information.

3. To provide training facilities to officials and administrators dealing with mobility, particularly within universities.

Presentations on mobility issues (scientific visa, citizenship, social security, taxation, salaries, transparent employment procedures for researchers, Charter and Code) were held at all workshops and trainings organised by ESCZG and have always raised significant interest among attendees. The reactions to this kind of information were very positive and it is evident that more education on this matter would encourage more researchers in Croatia to expand their international cooperation and be less affected by obstacles they encountered in the past.

Potential impact:

The HR-MOB project has facilitated incoming mobility to Croatia, and has increased the added value of the outgoing mobility. With this increased mobility and induced knowledge exchange it has provided a strong support to integration of the Croatian research area into ERA to the creation of Innovation union. The project has helped in reducing the mobility obstacles, through information service and help-desk, as well as by linking decision makers with end users. The project has transferred gathered knowledge to researchers and administrative staff at larger units of universities (faculties) and trained them in mobility enabling procedures, like visas, temporary stays, work permit, residence permits, health and social security issues.

The sustainability of the project was ensured with the continuation of the project after the Community support phase, due to the fact that the Croatian government has marked sustainability of ESCZG as one of the actions in the economic recovery plan and sources for its operation were allocated in the State Budget.

Significant efforts in the implementation of European partnership for the researchers and Charter and Code principles will improve working conditions of researchers in Croatia.

Large number of publicly funded research jobs on the central EURAXESS portal has increased the visibility of Croatian research organisations and has increased their prospects for international cooperation, joint research. Open and transparent selection processes of publicly funded research jobs will contribute to the development of an attractive, open and sustainable European labour market.

Further implementation of action plan for mobility of researchers and facilitated mobility of researchers will foster Croatian participation in Framework Programme and foreign investments in Croatian R&D sector.

The knowledge gathered during this period is available to the general public at the EURAXESS Croatia web portal, and disseminated through newsletters, workshops, hardcopy mobility guide and training.

Knowledge on mobility enabling procedures is freely available to use by the Croatian research community, and at its disposal. It is also linked with the central EURAXESS portal.

Facilitated mobility creates opportunities in research cooperation between Croatian researchers and European researchers, and integrates the Croatian research area into ERA. It has an especially huge impact on the rather insular Croatian research community, allowing spreading of excellence.

List of websites: www.euraxess.hr