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SMART LOIRE VALLEY: Curiosity, Imagination and Intuition

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - SMART LOIRE VALLEY (SMART LOIRE VALLEY: Curiosity, Imagination and Intuition)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-10-31

LE STUDIUM Loire Valley Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) has designed innovative programmes to build the human capital for research, development and innovation in the research laboratories of the Centre-Val de Loire region and to enhance the path carreer of international selected researchers.
The Smart Loire Valley (SLV) Fellowships Programme is an adaptation of an already existing programme, redesigned and augmented to meet the objectives of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie COFUND actions. In a permanently evolutionary world, LE STUDIUM IAS brings its expertise and long experience of facilitating international collaborative projects between regional laboratories and foreign research teams.
The IAS offers a unique research time to international experienced scientists across all disciplines. An operational support prior, during and after the residency offers smooth and efficient conditions to international LE STUDIUM Fellows to settle in and discover the Loire Valley rich scientific and cultural environment. The dynamic scientific programme with various events and training plan developped by the IAS enable them to enhance their research skills and networks.
The Marie Sklodowska-Curie COFUND grant contract has enabled the IAS to launch four annual calls for application and to host 46 fellows coming from 23 different countries for a total of 566 months of research spread over six years.
The first Smart Loire Valley (SLV) Fellowship Programme co-funded by the European Research Executive Agency – Marie Sklodowska-Curie COFUND was launched on 9th November 2015, followed by the second, third and fourth and last calls for projects
respectively launched as scheduled in November 2016, November 2017 and November 2018. The grant contract initially planned to run till October 2020 was extended to October 2021 to cope with a series of delays in fellowships' starting dates, cancellations and eventually the COVID-19 sanitary crisis.

The SLV Fellowships programme offered an average of twelve LE STUDIUM Fellowships awards per year (12 consecutive months of residency) in all research disciplines to boost international scientific exchanges in the region Centre-Val de Loire (CVL) through the establishment of international, sustainable and quality scientific collaborations. LE STUDIUM Fellows benefits included a salary, a fully furnished housing and the opportunity to take part in and to organise international scientific events. The annual call for projects offered two additional award’s types that were not co-financed by the MSCA: the LE STUDIUM Professorship (12-month residency spread over 4 years) and LE STUDIUM Consortium (international networking actions).

The SLV Fellowships Calls for Projects were widely advertised on many specialized research platforms and across the international scientific community through LE STUDIUM network and the regional partners. Consequently, LE STUDIUM has seen its website traffic increased significantly and counted more than 60 Fellowships applications for the last campaign. The evaluation and selection procedure involved the collaboration of more than 300 international experts per year and the gathering of a LE STUDIUM international 25-member Scientific Council in June of each year in Orléans, FR.

As committed, fourty-eight LE STUDIUM / Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellows were awarded a one-year fellowship in a host laboratory of the Centre-Val de Loire region: at end of October 2021, fourty-six had finished their residency. Late cancellations of awards for personal reasons and/or due the 2020-2021 Covid-19 sanitary crisis reduced the total number of fellows able to honour their award. Remaining months of cancelled residencies were dispatched accross the fellows in residence having expressed this wish through a open and transparent expression of interest offer distributed to all. An online Scientific Council took place in December 2021 to state on these fellowships extension request. A total of five fellows saw their residence extended between two to six months. Two Fellows had previously benefited from 1-month extension in 2017 and 2018 to enable them to achieve their research projects' objectives.One fellow benefited from a special arrangement to split his residency in two periods,. This opportunity had already been granted once for a maternity leave in 2016-2017 .

With 23 countries represented, the geographical origin of awarded fellows displays as 67% from Europe, 26% from North America and South America, 4% from Asia and 1% from Africa. The gender balance though not fully achieved reflects an increased number of women applications and awards with a total of 18 awards attributed to women in total equaling to 39% of Le Studium fellows under this grant.
In partnership with LE STUDIUM / Marie-Slowdovska Curie Fellows, LE STUDIUM IAS has organised 69 international multidsiciplinary scientific events including 37 large international conferences in the cities of Orléans or Tours.

Seventy five publications were recorded and we can expect that more publications are under final preparation or review and will be published in the coming years.

In addition of incitating LE STUDIUM Fellows to publish their research work in OpenAIRE and on the European plateform, LE STUDIUM has launched LE STUDIUM Journal section on its website to record and archive all publications of past LE STUDIUM Fellows. When not available in Green open access, pre-print versions of publications were requested. All fellows' final reports were archived as well and given DOI numbers. Publications are in free access to any visitor.

The SLV programme also recorded positive socio-economic outcomes generated by positive interractions of fellows with the regional host laboratories and other regional smart specialisation programmes. It has seen the successful development of joint publications, new research projects, applications to new funding, and the creation of new sustainable collaborations.

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