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COFUNDing of the CERN Fellowship Programme 2014

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - COFUND-FP-CERN-2014 (COFUNDing of the CERN Fellowship Programme 2014)

Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2020-09-30

The COFUND project offers scientists and engineers within ten years of finishing their Master degree, challenging opportunities in particle physics research, and in related fields of physics and technology. COFUND is open to all nationalities. Applicants go through a thorough selection process based on the scientific potential of the proposal, and on the demonstrated excellence of the candidate. COFUND Fellows are the highest-ranked applicants.

Working on frontier research and technology projects and profiting from the unique facilities available at CERN, the co-funded Fellows deepen their knowledge in their own field and acquire international visibility and reputation. They broaden their skills using the numerous training opportunities and through their exposure to an interdisciplinary and multi-national environment. Inter-sectoral skills are fostered through CERN’s industrial collaborations and technology transfer projects. Fellows develop their knowledge and network thanks to the size of the Laboratory, the diversity of the research and training opportunities, and the uniqueness of CERN’s facilities.

One of CERN’s priorities is to generate interest and engage the general public in its activities through special programmes such as the ones for school kids, for high school teachers. In addition CERN has a dedicated visits service who organizes visits of the CERN points of interest for small and large groups. The COFUND Fellows participated and contributed to the success of these initiatives by having become a CERN guide and explaining CERN's activities to general public.

The COFUND Fellows benefit from attractive and competitive employment conditions and COFUND Fellows are guaranteed three-year appointments rather than the standard two-year terms of CERN Fellows. At least two of these three years are spent at CERN, COFUND fellows being offered the possibility to spend up to one year outside CERN, in a field related to their original work at CERN, in a research institute, university or industry of their choice, keeping their full employment contract with CERN. Some fellows made use of this possibility which proved to be an excellent bridge for the Fellows towards the next step in their research career. Some of them were in fact then hired by their seconding institute.

The objectives of the programme, namely to attract the best possible candidates, develop their knowledge and competencies in physics and related scientific and engineering activities, improve their employability on the job market both in the academic and non-academic world, extend their professional network have been achieved. The feedback collected via the questionnaire, and also talking to the Fellows directly to gather their feedback has confirmed the success and impact of this EU programme.
All researcher declarations have been introduced and submitted into the Participant Portal. A total of 62 Fellows took part in the project.
The first periodic report was submitted after 24 months.

WP2: Evaluation and selection
Fellows were selected over 4 Selection Committees. A total of 1327 valid applications were received and in total 62 candidates could benefit from a COFUND fellowship.

Gender distribution: 24% of women and 76% of men.
Nationality distribution: 25 different nationalities were represented.

Recruitment variation:
Nine Fellows resigned in the concerned period as they were offered a permanent position in another institute/university/Laboratory/public sector. Although such departures do not help us to maximize the COFUND budget, it can be taken as a positive sign that we hired such good researchers for COFUND who were well-positioned in the competitive external job market.

The Post Career Break fellowship offers a professional opportunity for keen scientific or engineering talent who have had a temporary absence from the field. Post Career Break Fellows can also be selected as COFUND fellows. For the period concerned, 3 Post Career Break Fellows were offered a COFUND position.

WP3: Dissemination of the Programme and its Calls: Measures were taken to promote the project as widely as possible. PUblication on EURAXESS and many other portals such as Job up, LinkedIn, CERN Facebook, Twitter, European Platform of Women Scientists, Unijobs, CERN recruitment website, CERN diversity website.

WP4: Ethical issues
The Members of the Associates and Fellows Committee were asked, at each committee, if any ethics issues needed to be raised and/or discussed in the context of COFUND. The Committee noted that there were no issues.
Working on frontier research and technology projects and profiting from the unique facilities available at CERN, COFUND Fellows deepened their knowledge in their fields, became acquainted with new domains of knowledge and activities and acquired international exposure. They broadened their skills taking up numerous training opportunities inside and outside CERN and benefitting from the exposure to an interdisciplinary, multi-national and multicultural environment. Inter-sectorial skills were fostered through extensive CERN’s industrial collaborations and technology transfer projects as well as through stays in institutes that work with CERN, whilst maintaining their contract of employment and related benefits with the Organization. In total 10 fellows took the opportunity and spent a secondment (usually between 6 and 12 months) at another institute.

A total of 87 publications emerged out of the COFUND programme, all published open access and entered onto the relevant page of the Participant portal.

Fellows were active in disseminating their activities organising and participating in conferences, organising and participating in workshops etc. (see dissemination part for a complete information).

In resume, the CERN COFUND Programme offered excellent training opportunities for experienced researchers in different fields of science and technology. The programme provided a set of skills, both technical and transferrable ones which ensured a wide scope of professional perspectives to the COFUND Fellows, thus strengthening Europe’s human capital base in science, technology and innovation.