Almost six million Euros for a new generation of scientists

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The Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences – as the only research institution in the Czech Republic – has been awarded the European Union’s prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND grant. Almost six million Euros, i.e. more than 146 million Czech Korunas, will be used to fund 60 two-years’ postdoctoral fellowships.

In the international competition of 116 applicants in the category of postdoctoral programmes only 13 European institutions were successful, including two Czech ones. Both these projects involve the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

The project that the biggest institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences succeed with is titled Physics for Future Fellowship Programme (P4F), and it creates a unique educational platform of 71 collaborating entities including international academic and non-academic institutions, such as the University of Oxford, the University of Oslo, CERN or DE.TEC.TOR, a spin-off of the University of Turin. In this five-year project, together with the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences also 15 partners from the private sector take part, including Springer (publisher), Nature (journal), and Zentiva (company).

“Winning the grant will enable us to engage excellent young scientists from the whole world in our research groups as well as in collaboration with industry. The project aims to prepare a versatilely educated generation of physicists that will be capable of responding well to the rapidly changing needs of the society,” says Michael Prouza, the Director of the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences (FZU). Industry based on physics employs more than 12 per cent of all European employees.

From astrophysics to spintronics

The postdoctoral program will allow candidates to design their own interdisciplinary research project and apply for its implementation at the FZU. The selection of fellowship recipients will be carried out in an open international selection procedure, where the quality of the submitted projects will be evaluated by an international panel. Thanks to a wide spectrum of scientific fields, from astrophysics to spintronics, the Institute of Physics can provide excellent applicants with top-class supervisors at an international level.

"The evaluation by the European Commission highlighted not only the quality of the prepared program, but also the innovative way in which the FZU wants to prepare fellowship holders for the development of their future careers," adds Ilona Skordis Gottwaldová, Head of the Grant Office of the FZU.

As a part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions call, the European Commission will support 13 study programmes for Ph.D. students and 13 programmes for postdoctoral researchers. In the competition for postdoctoral programmes, along with the FZU also the Central Bohemian Innovation Center (Středočeské inovační centrum) succeeded with a MERIT project, in which the FZU also participates.