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The European Union is celebrating 20 years of its Research Fellowship Programme. Since 1996, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) have provided grants to train excellent researchers at all stages of their careers – be they doctoral candidates or highly experienced researchers – while encouraging transnational, inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary mobility. The programme is named after the double Nobel Prize winner Marie Skłodowska-Curie to honour and spread the values she stood for. To date, 98 000 researchers have benefited from the programme – among them five Nobel laureates and an Oscar winner.
One of the MSCA flag schemes are European Training Networks which provide high quality doctoral-level training in and outside academia. These networks bring together universities, research centres and companies from different countries worldwide to train a new generation of researchers. The funding boosts scientific excellence and business innovation, and enhances researchers’ career prospects through developing their skills in entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.
The Quasar Group based at the Cockcroft Institute has been very successful in gaining funding from the competitive scheme of MSCA European Training Networks. Since 2009 Prof Welsch with support from his EU TEAM has been coordinating four training networks in the field of particle accelerators, with a fifth one starting next year ( www.ava-project.eu ). DITANET, LA3NET, oPAC and OMA has trained almost 80 young scientists, and another 15 are now being recruited within AVA. Each network provides an interdisciplinary and intersectoral environment for a series of fellows who are hosted at several institutions across Europe, experience different sectors and develop their skills by working on joint research projects. A novel ‘complementary skills training’ concept was developed within our networks and selected as best practice for postgraduate researcher training by the University of Liverpool. The scheme was implemented through a series of schools and workshops and an active programme of outreach and dissemination. As a result, a steady supply of highly qualified personnel has been provided to the international community of particle accelerators and we have raised the public awareness of the impact of science in society.
The Cockcroft Institute has also hosted Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellows. The individual fellowships are awarded to experienced researchers who are looking to enhance their career development and prospects by working abroad. The Quasar Group has hosted Dr. Ralph Fiorito, Dr. Javier Resta López and Dr. Sergey L. Vinogradov who have significantly contributed to research in the field of particle accelerators.
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions have set the benchmark for attracting and retaining the most talented researchers. By making researchers mobile and encouraging cooperation, the programme boosts knowledge transfer and contributes to strengthening Europe’s research and innovation capacity.