Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


EI3POD Report Summary

Project ID: 664726
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.4.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EI3POD (EMBL Interdisciplinary, International and Intersectorial Postdocs)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2017-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is a center of excellence for basic research in the Life Sciences. The laboratory is funded by public research monies from its member states and operates across 6 sites in 5 countries in Europe (Heidelberg and Hamburg, Germany; Hinxton, UK; Grenoble, France; Rome, Italy; Barcelona, Spain). Its missions are to perform basic research in molecular biology, to provide training to scientists at all career levels, offer services to its member states, to develop new instruments and methods, to actively engage in technology transfer and to integrate European life science research. The laboratory provides a truly interdisciplinary research environment with scientists from many different backgrounds and nationalities collaborating in an endeavor to develop cutting-edge technologies and to answer important research questions. EMBL faculty also engage in a high number of external collaborations with laboratories from both academia and industry.

The EI3POD fellowship programme is embedded in the rich research environment of the EMBL. It builds on previously successful versions of the EIPOD programme offering supported researchers a broad choice of collaborative research opportunities in academia and industry. The programme is designed to nurture the careers of future research leaders via excellent scientific training, coupled to tailored training in transferrable skills as well as mentoring and career development support. The premise of all funded projects is that they are interdisciplinary and fellows must benefit from the acquisition of interdisciplinary research skills by carrying out their research projects. EI3POD fellows work with at least two EMBL group leaders to realize their ambitious interdisciplinary research projects. Additional external partners from academia or industry may also participate as partners on EI3POD projects as defined by the research interests and future career aspirations of supported fellows.

The outstanding scientific training EI3POD fellows receive is complemented by a mandatory training curriculum focused on non-scientific research skills designed to provide fellows with ethical, societal and entrepreneurial awareness. EI3POD fellows also have access to a wide range of vocational and personal skills training courses on offer at EMBL.

Mentoring and career development are important components of the programme that EI3POD fellows complete. The design of research projects with fellows working together with two or more group leaders provides them with individualized mentoring networks. They also have access to a dedicated career advisor who helps them to define their career goals early in their fellowship time and to prepare and execute an action plan to maximize their chances of realizing their goals.
The EI3POD programme will produce a cohort of well-trained, open-minded, industrially aware independent scientific thinkers and future leaders for the European Research Area and beyond. They will be well placed to identify and pursue a range of career opportunities available to scientists in both the academic and corporate setting.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

1) During the first 24 months of the project, the programme completed two of three planned for calls for application. Open calls were advertised to an international audience of experienced researchers interested in high quality postdoctoral programmes. Applications were evaluated via a transparent and defined procedure that included externals experts. Forty-one experience researchers from 26 different countries were welcomed into the EI3POD programme.

The EI3POD programme follows a bottom up approach with candidates putting forward the research projects they are interested in working on. Three different types of projects are possible. The most popular project type from recruited fellows were projects involving two or more EMBL faculty. In addition to EMBL faculty, xternal academic partners from another institutes may also participate on an EI3POD project. This was the second most popular type of project. Finally, fellows can work on industry-based projects involving two EMBL group leaders and an industry partner or on an applied project with EMBL’s technology Transfer arm (EMBLEM) This was the third most popular type of project chosen by the fellows who joined the EI3POD programme.

Fellows are supported by a dedicated team during all stages of their interaction with the EI3POD programme from application until completion of their fellowship contract. The EIPOD programme is under the direction of the Head of Internal Scientific Training and has a full-time senior programme administrator and career advisor. The office is also supported by a part-time (50%) IT specialist.

The reporting obligations associated with the first reporting period, as defined in Annex 1 of the grant were completed.

2) Mandatory training for all fellows
EI3POD fellows benefit from a dedicated training programme focused on non-scientific research skills designed to provide them with ethical, societal and entrepreneurial awareness. The 2015 cohort completed the full training curriculum in the first reporting period. The 2016 cohort completed the first of the three training blocks.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

EI3POD is an innovative research programme combining excellent scientific training with training in non-scientific research skills, tailored mentoring and career development support. The approximately 60-65 fellows expected to complete the programme will benefit from:

• excellent scientific training
• training in the commercial side of science
• individualized career development support and mentoring
• excellent working conditions (competitive salaries, unemployment, pension, health care etc.)

The EI3POD programme will massively enhance the career perspectives of EI3POD fellows. Fellows will develop skill sets to make them competitive on the job market. This includes excellent training and mentoring from the groups involved in their research projects. Furthermore, the career development service, including one-to-one access to a career advisor, provides a platform for fellows to explore career options and to take the steps needed to identify and realize future career goals.
EI3POD fellows make up a significant fraction of the total Postdoctoral community at EMBL (25% in 2018) and thus have a major impact on postdoctoral training in general at the laboratory. Historically, the EIPOD programme has served as a training ground to test innovative approaches to postdoctoral training. Successful formats have been subsequently made available to all Postdocs at EMBL. The institute is also recognized for developing and sharing successful training formats in postgraduate education with other institutes.

The EI3POD programme is committed to following the principals set out by the EU for human resources development as detailed in the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the recruitment of researchers. EI3POD fellows receive a competitive salary and excellent social security benefits. Flexible working times as well as part-time work options are also possible to foster a healthy work-life balance. EMBL has received the EU’s badge of excellence for the working conditions its fellows enjoy. Fellows will take with them the expectations of access to comparable conditions to their next place of employment after EMBL.
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