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[PEGASUS]², giving wings to your career.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PEGASUS-2 ([PEGASUS]², giving wings to your career.)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2020-05-31

With [PEGASUS]², the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) aims to enhance human capital in fundamental research in all scientific domains by attracting more excellent researchers to Flanders via incoming postdoctoral fellowships, as well as by bestowing researchers in Flanders with increased international experience via outgoing postdoctoral fellowships. This brain circulation through international and intersectoral mobility will not only foster excellence in the researcher’s training and career development, it will also contribute to dissolving regional and (inter)national boundaries and bring the European Research Area nearer to completion. Based on the success of the previous cofunded programme and the lessons learned from its execution and external evaluation, [PEGASUS]² is a deepened and extended programme including two fellowship schemes for experienced researchers: (1) 3-year incoming fellowships and (2) 3-year outgoing fellowships composed of two years of research abroad and one return year to the fellow’s host institution, in order to reintegrate into a long term position. Candidates can be of any nationality and active in any scientific discipline. In line with the European Charter and Code, the FWO is committed to fair and transparent recruitment and appraisal procedures, safeguarding the excellence and attractiveness of Flemish research in particular and of the ERA more generally. Fellows will be offered attractive employment conditions including a bench fee on top of the living and mobility allowance. By providing support and training all within an optimal research environment and enjoying the best working conditions, [PEGASUS]² offers experienced researchers a unique opportunity to boost their research career through international and intersectoral mobility.
Prior to the start and during the first months of the granting period FWO started preparing the launch of the [PEGASUS]² programme. A wide (regional/international) dissemination strategy including a customized logo, poster and brochure was set-up. In addition, a dedicated webpage was created. On this website applicants could find all necessary information: timing, regulations, guide for applicants, FAQ, link to the online application module, … For each call a EURAXESS job vacancy was created. In September 2015 the [PEGASUS]2 programme was officially launched in the presence of our EC programme officer, representatives of the [PEGASUS]² host institutions, international partners, … and most importantly: interested researchers. The modalities of the programme were explained including a testimony of a former Pegasus awardee (COFUNDed under FP7).
Two calls were launched in the framework of the [PEGASUS]2 programme. The first call (deadline on February 1st, 2016) was launched during the launch event in September 2015. A second call (deadline on May 1st, 2016) was launched in February 2016. In the first call, 81 applications were received and 16 INCOMING/4 OUTGOING fellowships were awarded. In call 2, 167 applications were received, 33 INCOMING/7 OUTGOING fellowships were awarded. No further calls will be launched.
In a first step each application was subject to an eligibility check that was based on the rules clearly described on the [PEGASUS]2 website, in the [PEGASUS]² regulations, guide for applicants and online application module. Ineligible applicants were informed about this decision and their application was rejected for further evaluation. Eligible applications were further processed by a three-step evaluation procedure. First, the applications were sent out for external peer-reviews. In a second step, the project proposals were evaluated by the domain-specific panel to which the applicant submitted his/her application (30 monodisciplinary/1 interdisciplinary). Proposals that got ranked in this step were evaluated in a third phase by our Commission for International Collaboration (CIS) who made two final lists of successful INCOMING/OUTGOING fellows respectively + reserve list. Applicants were informed about the outcome of their application in June 2016 (call 1) and November 2016 (call2). Within three months all applicants (successful/unsuccessful) received a feedback report (reports of all 3 evaluation steps). Researchers funded by the FWO are required to identify any ethical aspects in their research. This is effectuated as follows: a self-assessment before submission, a screening during evaluation, and an in-depth ethical assessment when granted and needed.
Not only did the [PEGASUS]² programme noticeably improve the skills, working conditions and career perspectives of the incoming and outgoing fellows, it also had a considerable impact on both the human resources management of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) and that of the participating (foreign) host institutions.
As put forward in the FWO’s 2012-2016 policy plan, internationalisation is regarded as a strategic lever to enhance human capital in research. Therefore the FWO actively encourages transnational mobility and specifically designed [PEGASUS]² to attract more foreign researchers to Flanders via the incoming fellowships, as well as to bestow Flemish researchers with increased international experience via the outgoing fellowships.
Not only did this programme raise the number of international fellows in Flanders, it also installed a transnational mind-set both among the fellows and their colleagues at the (foreign) host institutions. The ‘brain circulation’ thus induced contributed to dissolving regional and national boundaries and brought the European Research Area nearer to completion.
The [PEGASUS]² programme offered both its incoming and outgoing 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. On the one hand these fellowships aimed at improving the researchers’ skills in their specific research domain, via acquisition of new methods and techniques, interaction with group members and mentoring. Both incoming and outgoing fellows benefited from the intellectual and socio-cultural exchange with their peers and through their immersion in a highly qualified international environment they helped FWO reach its strategic goal of keeping Flemish research in line with international standards. Yet on the other hand the fellows had access to a wide range of transferable skill training and inter-sectoral activities, improving the researchers’ competencies and resulting in a more attractive profile for the general job market. To allow [PEGASUS]² fellows to use their bench for transferable skills training, the FWO had to adjust its regulations at that time. At a later stage, this practice was extended to all FWO postdoctoral fellows demonstrating the impact [PEGASUS]² had on other FWO funding programmes. Another example of such a spillover effect was the possibility to conduct the [PEGASUS]² fellowship in collaboration with non-academic partners (intersectoriality). At that time this was not possible at FWO. Nowadays all FWO PhD and postdoctoral researchers can spend up to 12 months at a non-academic institution. Another aspect of the [PEGASUS]² programme that found its way in FWO procedures is the flexible start date for postdoctoral fellowships.
Logo [PEGASUS]² program