The Marie Curie fellowships described in part I and part II of this short series offer opportunities for early career researchers who wish to undertake part of their research training in another country. The European Commission promotes this, as it sees that Europe's competitiveness and growth depend on its ability to make full use of all of Europe's bright minds. However, after a period of mobility in another country, life goes on and researchers need to continue their careers.

Researchers are often hesitant to spend part of their research career abroad because they fear that they will miss out on opportunities in their home country. They are also afraid that it will be difficult to find a research position in their home country having been away for a number of years. Furthermore, they are sometimes sceptical that the experience they have gained during their period abroad will be fully appreciated by potential employers in their home country.

A number of researchers toy for a while with the idea of going abroad for a number of years, only to drop it because of such concerns. The Marie Curie Reintegration Grants aim to make it easier for fellows to continue their scientific careers after working elsewhere, in part by making them more attractive to employers at home. The hope is that as it becomes easier to find employment after the period of mobility, going abroad in the first place will become more attractive as well.

European Reintegration

There are two types of Reintegration Grants, the first being the European Reintegration Grant. Researchers who are from EU Member States or Associated States and who have been Marie Curie fellows for at least 2 years can apply for this award.

This fellowship seeks to assist the fellow with professional reintegration after the initial Marie Curie fellowship, preferably (but not necessarily) in his or her country or region of origin. The idea is that the grant will therefore improve the career development of researchers by allowing them to capitalise on their transnational mobility period.

Researchers have to submit a project proposal to be carried out at a host institution in the country they wish to reintegrate in. The grant consists of a lump sum of ?40,000 that must be used within 1 year following the term of the Marie Curie fellowship. The grant may not be used for the remuneration of the fellow, but it can be used for all expenses necessary to the project (such as costs of other personnel, equipment, or travel).

If the proposal is funded, the European Commission signs a contract with the (re)integration host--which can be an academic institution or a research-active company. The researcher's salary is paid by the host, which has to prove that it will assure the researcher's "effective and lasting reintegration" for at least 2 years, for example by signing an employment contract with the researcher. In return, the host also has to secure the researcher's commitment to stay for at least 2 years. A longer-term employment offer improves the proposal's chance of being funded, since this is even more in line with the European Commission's objective of improving the fellow's career prospects.

Researchers have to apply for these grants in the final year of their fellowship, at least 6 months before it ends. There are four deadlines per year (see box). It really is worth writing a proposal for a Marie Curie European Reintegration Grant: So far, the success rate has been up to 90%.

Reintegration Grant Deadlines 2004

The remaining deadlines for applications for both European and International Reintegration Grants this year are:

  • 15 April

  • 15 July

  • 14 October.

International Reintegration

The second type is the International Reintegration Grant. European researchers who have carried out research outside Europe for at least 5 years (with or without a Marie Curie fellowship) who wish to return to Europe can apply.

The objective of this fellowship is to stimulate European researchers to come back to an EU Member State or Associated State. The idea is that they transfer the knowledge they have obtained abroad to European research. With this type of fellowship, the European Commission intends to halt brain drain to third countries.

Researchers have to apply for these fellowships in liaison with their (European) host organisation. The grant consists of a lump sum of ?80,000 that, as with the European Reintegration Grant funding, can be spent on all necessary project expenses except the researcher's salary. Similar conditions also apply regarding the host institution's relationship with the fellow, but in this case, "effective and lasting reintegration" must be assured for at least 3 years.

Time spent writing a proposal for an International Reintegration Grant is also time well spent: The success rate so far has been 80%.