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Initiative for the MObility and deVElopment of researchers’careers

Final Report Summary - I-MOVE (Initiative for the MObility and deVElopment of researchers’careers)

I-MOVE, the Initiative for the MObility and deVElopment of researchers' careers, sponsored a fellowship scheme for experienced researchers with the objective to promote international mobility between European and Associated Countries on one hand and Italian research laboratories (including those with links to the region of Umbria) on the other in the fields of genomics, genetics, informatics and nanotechnologies applied to all aspects of life sciences. International mobility was achieved by the programme with the provision of two types of fellowships: Outgoing and Incoming and although a specific reintegration scheme was not foreseen, the incoming fellowships equally represented an opportunity for Italian researchers living abroad to return to Italy. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of the I-MOVE initiative, the funded fellows work necessarily together with colleagues with diverse skills and knowledge, thus contributing to build a community bursting with innovative knowledge and expertise. This overlaps nicely with the strategic vision of the co-financer of I-MOVE, Regione Umbria, to stimulate the acquisition of knowledge and technology in competitive and innovative fields, such as the 'omics' disciplines, which have been identified as the main driver for future research and product innovation and are expected to have a significant social and economic impact, both regionally and internationally.
I-MOVE published four Calls for Applicants over a period of 5 years (2 in 2012, 1 in 2013 and 1 in 2014) and awarded 34 fellowships from and to Italy (28 fully completed, 4 terminated early and 2 withdrawn before the start of the fellowship) for a total of 557.68 fellow/months actually implemented. Over 60% of the awards went to the outgoing mobility scheme. The 23 long-term (24 months) and 11 short-term (6 to 12 months) fellowships published attracted a total of 57 applications from European and non-European researchers seeking to work at internationally renowned institutions of their choice. Despite what may seem to be a moderate number of applications recorded per call, I-MOVE has proved to be very successful in terms of impact and results achieved by the individual funded projects, with fellows travelling to highly prestigious research locations worldwide, progressing to secure future high-profile employment, obtaining additional funding opportunities under other European and national schemes and establishing important long-lasting collaborations. Two thirds of the proposals submitted (42 out of 57) came from Italian researchers applying for outgoing fellowships at renowned foreign academic institutions and research centres, mainly in the US and in the UK, but also in France, the Netherlands, Spain and Australia. The incoming applications came from a wide range of countries, including Mexico, Russia and India. The programme was also very successful in promoting and maintaining a high gender balance. The majority of the awarded fellows (64%) were female with different levels of research experience; more specifically, 14 Italian female scientists were offered both I-MOVE fellowships, whereas 8 researchers coming from abroad moved to Italy (region of Umbria) for a 24 months stay. As for the research training fields covered by the initiative, I-MOVE implemented a bottom-up approach and welcomed applications in a wide range of topics, from molecular and cell biology (the most popular) to vaccine development and from genetics, genomics and bioinformatics to innovative research on topics related to the control of infectious diseases. The I-MOVE programme had a clear impact on the advancement of the European Research Area and its objectives as it contributed to making less know regions, such as Umbria more attractive for researchers. This was a long-term investment for scientific excellence in Europe in general, but mainly an investment at regional level in order to remain innovative, prosperous and competitive. Irrespective of the current economic scenario and lack of research funding in Italy, the outcome of the I-MOVE programme is very positive, and most importantly, it was very welcomed by the Hosts Institutions that made the necessary commitments to support the fellows and their research activities throughout the entire duration of the programme. The final follow-up questionnaires confirmed the initiative success rate and reported that the areas of the fellowship training and experience that had the most impact on the fellows’ career were the professional links (internal and external), the quality of the scientific environment and the opportunities for international collaborations.
The Programme used a variety of different platforms for dissemination purposes. The project web site was the main source of information, but other dissemination activities included EURAXESS, NatureJobs, the CORDIS pages, the Regione Umbria official bulletin, II Sole 24 Ore, the 2013 Researchers Night, the final I-Move i-share event, along with a large number of publications, posters and book chapters (over 30 publications) prepared by the fellows as part of their scientific training.