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Innovative doctoral programme for talented early-stage researchers in Spanish host organisations excellent in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - INPhINIT (Innovative doctoral programme for talented early-stage researchers in Spanish host organisations excellent in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2021-09-30

INPhINIT was a doctoral fellowship programme devoted to attracting international Early-Stage Researchers to the top Spanish research centres in the areas of Bio and Health Sciences and STEM disciplines. INPhINIT is promoted by "la Caixa" Banking Foundation (FBLC) with the aim of supporting the best scientific talent and fostering innovative and high-quality research in Spain and Europe. INPhINIT targeted the most motivated PhD candidates by addressing the STEM research areas in which Spain excels. The programme awarded 114 fellowships of 3 years each in 2 calls for applications.

FBLC is a Spanish non-profit organisation whose mission is to contribute towards the progress of people and society. Since 1982, FBLC has offered its fellowships programmes—through which more than 5,000 talented young people have received fellowships to take up postgraduate studies or begin their research careers in Spain and abroad. FBLC fellowship programmes are well-known for their prestige, the reliability and rigour of the selection processes, the fellows’ excellent academic level and the impact that the fellowship has on their future academic or professional careers.

The INPhINIT programme was selected in the 2015 COFUND call and and had a duration of 60 months. FBLC acted as funding organisation and directly manageed the selection process for each annual call, while the participating host organisations (certified as excellent by Spanish nation¬al research systems) recruited, hosted and provided scientific training for the selected fellows. In addition to the interdisciplinary training activities offered by the host organisation, the INPhINIT programme set up a comprehensive complementary skills training scheme that included sessions on Technology Transfer, Entrepreneurship and Professional and Career Development.

FBLC performed a preliminary bibliometric analysis with the gathered information about the scientific publications produced by the INPhINIT fellows during their fellowships, specifically between January 2018 and September 2021. The results are outstanding and show the following:

- The excellent scientific training the fellows received at their host organisations.
- The excellence of the selection processes carried out by means of which the best ESR researchers were recruited
- The exposure of the INPhINIT fellows to the top research groups of Europe and beyond that boost fruitful international collaborations and, consequently, led to publish results in the best scientific journals.

Furthermore, the excellent research published by the INPhINIT fellows directly impacted on their host organisations contributing to improve the quality of their research and to increase their international recognition and strategic positioning.

To conclude, the INPhINIT fellowships programme has been a massive success and, beyond the COFUND project duration, FBLC decided to continue to invest on its continuity with its own funds. Since call 2019, LCF grants 65 PhD fellowships each year bringing top global talent to Spain and Portugal. The host organisations participated to the INPhINIT programme are currently more than a hundred excellent research centres and units, maximizing the opportunities for fellows and broadening their career perspectives.
The project started on October 1st 2016 and ended on September 30th 2021. It was divided into 2 calls In each call 57 doctoral fellowships were awarded by means of an open, transparent and merit-based three-stages selection process. Both calls were internationally disseminated following a Communication and Dissemination Plan designed for different target groups. This plan envisaged a series of actions, including the creation of the programme website and graphic material, organization ofinfodays and other events. Besides, the host organisations were provided with the INPhINIT dissemination kit so that they acted themselves as multipliers of the information of the calls. In addition, each call was published on the Euraxess website, as requested in the GA.

An excellent and rigorous evaluation and selection process managed by the FBLC was the core of INPhINIT. The programme in its entirety was managed by observing the principles of Excellence, Openness, Transparency, Fairness, Efficiency and speed, Confidentiality, Ethics and security. Experts were chosen from a database of more than 2,000 profiles that FBLC has built over the years. The Programme Office offered continuous and personalised support to the fellows during all the duration of the fellowship, in addition to the support and supervision they received through their host organisation.

The complementary training sessions organized by FBLC took place as planned with the collaboration providers experts in delivering specific training for PhD researchers. Each cohort participated to one residential (or Online during COVID lockdown periods) training session per year that lasted between 3 and 5 days and took place in different FBLC Centres in Spain. They had the opportunity to improve their transferrable skills, acquire basic knowledge on intellectual property rights and participate in networking activities.

In addition to the outreach activities promoted by the host organisations, FBLC engaged the INPhINIT fellows in many of the activities that organizes for the general public and, specifically, in 2 pitch competitions, one for each cohort, where the prize for winners was to produce a professional video with their pitch about the research they were carrying out. The objective was to improve the communication skills of the fellows in an original and creative way and, at the same time, to provide visibility for their projects sharing the videos via FBLC social networks.

All ethical issues identified during the project’s duration were treated according to the provisions foreseen in Annex I and all requirements from article 34 of the Grant Agreement and from the Ethics Summary Report were completely fulfilled.
The INPhINIT programme aims at generating a broad impact at different levels:

• For INPhINIT researchers
> Boosting their employability, offering them attractive employment and working conditions for researchers, a complementary training programme and collaboration and networking opportunities that will enhance their international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral dimension;
> Enriching their scientific and complementary training options;
> Enlarging the quality and scope of their network of collaborations.

• For Host organisations
> Allwing them to hire the most talented ESR willing to pursue a PhD in Spain;
> Expanding their international exposure;
> Promoting a permanent Innovative Doctoral Training framework.

• For Europe
> Expanding the network of collaborations among top centres and researchers;
> Contributing to translate the triple “i” dimension from the strictly doctoral studies to the development of excellent researchers in the industry or the academia.
> Fostering researchers mobility to and within Europe.

• For the Society as a whole
> Giving a proper recognition among society to a researcher’s career, promoting the importance of science and research for the welfare of the community;
> Triggering similar practices from the private sector;
> Promoting technology transfer and supporting researchers to become “entrepreneurial researchers”.
INPhINIT fellowships programme