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Periodic Report Summary 2 - SASPRO (Mobility Programme of Slovak Academy of Sciences: Supportive Fund for Excellent Scientists)

Publishable summary
Description of the project objectives
In the project SASPRO, Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS) intended to build up mobility programme for researchers from abroad allowing them to work at SAS scientific organisations. The main objectives were to increase quality of Slovak science and research by increasing excellence of SAS institutes as well as to create optimal conditions for fellows to perform their research and boost their career. The measurable objectives for the first four years of the project (from the five-year duration) were to create whole programme and ensure its administrative management, launch three calls for applications submission, organize the transparent and objective two-round selection of the best applicants based on the evaluation by at least three independent foreign evaluators per application and with the Evaluation Committees responsible for the final recommendation and provide successful fellows motivating work conditions. We planned to accept 57 fellows with projects of average duration of 24 months.
Description of the work performed
During the four years of the project the whole frame of the Programme SASPRO was set up. The public website and the Portal were created for swift publishing of current information and allowing the online applications preparation and submission by applicants from whole world. Bodies required for governing the Programme and for the assessment of the acquired applications (Board of the Programme SASPRO, Steering Committee, Evaluation Committees, Ethical Panel) were constituted. All documents needed for Programme administration were prepared, approved and published. During the first year of the project two calls for applications submission were launched, the third one was announced in the second year. All calls were appropriately advertised via SAS webpage, SASPRO Programme webpage, press releases and international job portals (Euraxess Jobs, Science Careers, Research Gate, and Nature Jobs). All applications were assessed within two-step evaluation process – in the first step the fulfilment of technical and formal requirements and compliance with eligibility criteria were assessed. Applications that successfully advanced to the second step were evaluated by at least three independent foreign evaluators and relevant Evaluation Committee. Personal interview with the presentation of the project was inherent part of this evaluation step. Evaluation Committees ranked applications into categories and prepared recommendation for the SAS Presidium. Applications recommended for funding and those on the reserve list were assessed by the Ethical Panel. Subsequently, during the negotiation phase, necessary agreements, contracts and annexes were prepared and signed, allowing us to transfer financial resources to the Host Organisations and enabling the start of individual fellowships. Fellows have been employed under the fix-term employment contracts with complete social security coverage and health insurance. During the fellowships, complex administrative, methodical and financial support is provided both to the fellows and the Host Organisations. Several networking events were organized; the biggest one was connected with transferable skills training at the Smolenice Castle. Achieved objectives of the SASPRO Programme as well as the results of the individual projects were properly disseminated by several means (press conferences and releases, television reports, seminars, etc.). Due to the early termination of some projects, part of the budget has been spared and used for the prolongation of the successful existing projects.
Description of the main results achieved
All objectives for these two reporting period were achieved:
- functional mobility programme according to the approved project was created;
- all necessary bodies of the Programme were created;
- all necessary documents were prepared and approved;
- Programme webpage and the online Portal were created;
- three calls for applications submission were launched and widely advertised;
- 138 applications were obtained within three calls;
- all obtained applications were assessed within the first step of the evaluation process; 28 applications were rejected in this phase, i. e. 110 applications were evaluated by at least three independent experts and by the relevant Evaluation Committee;
- 43 applications were approved for funding but 4 applicants withdrawn their applications during the negotiation phase, i. e. 39 fellowships were approved*;
- fellows are full-time employed by the Host Organisations according to the EU and Slovak legislation;
- support has been provided to the applicants during the preparation and submission of their applications, to the experts during the evaluation process, to the fellows and the Host Organisations during the implementation of the projects;
- transferable skills training and Slovak language course were provided;
- 4 projects were terminated early;
- options of fellowship prolongation was offered to the fellows;
- information has been regularly published and updated;
- information on the Programme, its funding, objectives and course has been appropriately disseminated.
*the difference between the planned and actual number of fellowships is caused by the different period of the projects the applicants have applied for. Our calculation was based on the average duration of the projects (24 months), however most applicants applied for the maximum duration of the projects (36 months).

The expected final results
We expect that by the end of the Programme SASPRO all fellowships will be successfully finished bringing new exciting scientific results. Realisation of these fellowships will help to improve international cooperation of the Host Organisations and to increase quality of research in the Slovak Republic as well as in the European Research Area. We expect that this Programme will provide new opportunities for the fellows and will help boost their career. At last but not least the wide network of contacts comprising the fellows, their previous affiliated organisations and their Host Organisations will be created which will facilitate international scientific collaboration.

General e-mail address:
Contact person for the SASPRO Programme: Ing. Zuzana Hrabovska-Palikova
Phone: +421 2 575 10 163

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