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Junior Leader la Caixa Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme: Shaping the new generation of leaders in research

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - JUNIOR LEADER (Junior Leader la Caixa Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme: Shaping the new generation of leaders in research)

Reporting period: 2019-07-08 to 2021-07-07

Junior Leader is the fellowship programme of ”la Caixa” Foundation (LCF), addressed to excellent experienced researchers of all nationalities willing to join one of the outstanding research centres in Spain or Portugal in the STEM area (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). LCF aims at widening the Junior Leader programme for a total of 60 divided into two calls, and providing for new training and mobility experiences in case of obtaining COFUND support.

Junior Leader will enhance the career perspectives of fellows by means of a comprehensive training encompassing scientific, technical and complementary skills that will help them to tap into their potential as independent researchers and leaders of the new generation of researchers. The 3-year contract will provide fellows with enough time to carry out their research projects and to take advantage of the training, networking and secondment schemes of the programme. Junior Leader fellowships mainly follow the scheme of the MSCA Individual Fellowships (specifically, the Standard European Fellowships), both addressing experienced researchers. However, the longer duration of Junior Leader contracts stands out. LCF and Junior Leader host organisations believe that 3-year contract will provide stability and be beneficial for the goals of programme and fellows.
The project started on July 2019 and will end on July 2024.It is divided into 2 calls that FBLC launched respectively in July 2020 and July 2021. In each call 30 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 and tailored for different target groups. This plan envisaged a series of actions, including the creation of the programme website, logo, slogan, promotional videos and templates for official documents. Besides, the organisation of infodays and participation to specific events were other elements of the plan, together with targeted advertising on scientific journals, portals and social media, mailing to the scientific and academic community through different distribution lists, including the network of FBLC alumni, FBLC evaluators database and participating host organisations. Concretely, the host organisations were provided with the Junior Leader dissemination kit so that they acted themselves as multipliers of the information of the calls. In addition, each call were published on the Euraxess website, as requested in the GA.

An excellent and rigorous evaluation and selection process is the core of Junior Leader programme. The programme in its entirety is managed by observing the principles of Excellence, Openness, Transparency, Fairness, Efficiency and speed, Confidentiality, Ethics and security. FBLC managed both selection processes that aimed at selecting the best early-stage researchers in the STEM areas. Experts were chosen from a database that FBLC has built over the years, and that contains more than 2,000 profiles of external and independent experts of different disciplines, expertise, sectors and origin, many of them H2020 evaluators. This database is a dynamic instrument, key to guarantee the excellence of the selection process. The selected researchers established a personal development career plan including transnational, intersectoral and interdisciplinary mobility opportunities.
The Junior Leader programme aims at generating a broad impact at different levels:

• For Junior Leader 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 researchers willing to continue their research in Spain and Portugal;
> Expanding their international exposure;

• 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”.
Call 2021