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CONcentrating EXcellence in UC3M - Postdoc Programme

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CONEX-Plus (CONcentrating EXcellence in UC3M - Postdoc Programme)

Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2021-02-28

CONEX-Plus is a training and incoming mobility program that aims to accelerate the career development of a cohort of international Experienced Researchers (ERs) at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M).
Building on the excellence of UC3M, the CONEX-Plus programme will train the next generation of research leaders in their respective areas, whilst at the same time supporting the Strategic Plan 2016 – 2022 from UC3M and contributing to the Spanish research and innovation landscape.

CONEX-Plus will offer 30 fellowships to ERs with up to six years of postdoctoral experience by means of two international public calls. Fellows will undertake a three-year project freely chosen by them within the objectives and subjects outlined in the Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) of the Community of Madrid. These areas will be underpinned by an area of strength of UC3M, the strategic research area of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and its application to the areas of the RIS3 strategy. The link of the program with the priorities of the RIS3, extended both to Spanish and European priorities, will improve the fellow’s employability and career prospects both in and outside academia.

Projects will be implemented in one of the 27 departments at the UC3M and through a compulsory secondment in a high-level non-academic organization. Each fellow will have 2 supervisors (i.e. one from UC3M and another from the secondment organization) to support their career development and will set up a Career Development Plan (CDP) that will guide the fellows to achieve their scientific and career development objectives.

The CONEX-Plus training and career development programme is based on the so-called triple ‘i’ dimension: International aspects, intersectoral exposure and interdisciplinarity. All fellows will benefit through the training programme with dedicated modules on
relevant transferable skills and Industry Training Blocks. UC3M holds the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research award. This recognises the University’s commitment to supporting the personal, professional and career development of its researchers and acknowledges its full alignment with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct, which will apply to their recruitment, including CONEX-Plus selection processes and project execution.
CONEX-Plus is funded by UC3M, the European Commission through the Marie-Sklodowska Curie COFUND Action (H2020-MSCA-COFUND-2017- GA 801538) and Banco Santander.
On March, 1st, 2019, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) launched a new incoming fellowship programme called CONEX-Plus - CONcentrating EXcellence in UC3M - Postdoc Programme, built on the CONEX COFUND programme previously implemented at UC3M (2013-2019). Since then, a continuous follow-up with the Project Officer was held to keep her updated of the status of the project and main milestones reached.
This programme, being held for five years (2019-2024), provides researchers with the opportunity of boosting their career development as it's built on the triple 'i' concept: interdisciplinarity, internationalization and intersectorality.

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid offered a total of 30 fellowships (20 from the First Call and 10 from the Second Call) to researchers with 0-6 years of research experience to implement their research projects in one of the 27 departments of the UC3M in areas outlined in the Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) Strategy of the Madrid Autonomous Region for 3 years. Fellows were selected following the principles of Excellence, Transparency, Fairness and Impartiality in the selection procedure, based on international peer review and interviews.


CONEX-PLUS Main Achievements:

-The website for 1st Call was operational by April 10, 2019 and the one for 2nd Call by mid-November, 2019 showing its visual identity, video, promotional flyer and document templates. Conex-Plus website, digital screens, social media, Linkedin) were used in order to disseminate CONEX-Plus Programme. As a direct result of the media campaign (both internal and external), 70 proposals (29 different countries) were submitted to the CONEX-Plus First Call for Applicants and 62 proposals (23 different countries) to the Second Call for Applicants (24 different countries), i.e. a total of 132 applicants from 34 countries.

In September 2020 the programme started recruiting fellows from the Fisrt Call following the principles of "The European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers"(In May 2021 recruitment of fellows from Second Call will be starting). Awardees of 1st Call came from a total of 10 different countries (awardees of 2nd Call will come from a total of 6 different countries). The percentage of female researchers is 30% (both calls).
These positions were offered in two independent calls published in July and December through an innovative international dissemination campaign in order to attract researchers of excellence from all over the world.

-The website for CONEX-Plus (www.uc3m.es/research/conex) was designed to provide not only data of the programme and its calls but information of fellows and their projects on research outcomes and events. Researchers' profile are being prepared to be included in the site. In addition, researchers are preparing their own sites. being some of them launched by researchers and given visibility through UC3M Linkedin.
Supporting this website, an onboarding site (www.uc3m.es/hr/onboarding) was also designed in order to keep-up-to-date researchers in sections such as Training Blocks (to help them among other issues, with the dissemination and exploitation of results).

-Researchers started to be provided with outstanding scientific, transferable skills to communicate across different sectors and their Career Development Plans (CDPs) began to be developed with the support of their supervisors in order to strengthen their career opportunities in academia and/or outside academia. A core element of CONEX-Plus is a compulsory secondment to a non-academic organisation which started to be organised to be developed after this First Reporting Period in order to foster researchers' mobility and their internationalisation.

The CONEX-Plus Programme is supporting the Strategic Plan 2016-2022 from UC3M and contributing to the Spanish research and innovation landscape. The strategic Plan prioritises international and interdisciplinary research of excellence, covering the three strategic axes of research, education and relationship with society, underpinned by responsible governance which has a positive effect on UC3M.

Further information is available on the following emails:
CONEX-Plus Helpdesk contact: conex@uc3m.es
Onboarding contact: welcomeoffice4faculty@uc3m.es
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