The project INSPIRE (IRCSET international mobility fellowships in science engineering and technology: Co-funded by Marie Curie Actions) offered ERs the benefit of a period of research mobility. ERs of any nationality and/or residency were eligible to apply, provided they had received most of their research training in Ireland and had been ERs for five years or less. They could select any host organisation for both phases, and choice of research topic was free within the broad area of science, engineering and technology. Two funding calls for INSPIRE fellowships were opened in autumn 2008 and 2009. From these, 138 applications were received from eligible ERs, and 50 individual fellowships were awarded. Fellows selected some of the world's most prestigious research institutions, with 45 international organisations hosting at least 1 award each (outgoing) and 12 Irish organisations hosting a total of 50 awards (return). Annual symposia were held for INSPIRE fellows, providing valuable opportunities for networking and career advice. A fellows' alumni network was created via online social networking communities that enabled fellows to widely disseminate their research. Fellows took part in various promotional activities to raise awareness of research. These included launching websites – for example, the online social network for researchers Paperfocus and GP Benchmarks.org a website showcasing a community-led effort aimed at improving experimentation in genetic programming. A survey and other information provided in progress and final reports revealed that fellows strongly benefited from the programme's mobility and career development experience. A few terminated their fellowships early due to beneficial employment opportunities, but all remaining fellows have completed their research fellowships and been employed. Many now hold permanent, tenure-track and other senior academic positions, demonstrating the programme's positive career development benefits. Fellows are using the experience they gained to help secure additional research funding or taking up a career in industry. The programme's mobility period added an international dimension to research careers and the opportunity to gain additional skills and expertise. Overall, the fellowship helped to broaden and deepen researchers' scientific and complementary skills, further contributing to their career development.
Experienced researchers, international mobility, fellowship, science, engineering, technology