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German and Spanish researchers opt for Poland

More than 600 foreign scientists have come to work in Poland over the last decade – mostly from Ukraine, Germany, and India. Thirty-four of them found their way to the M. Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The researchers, including chemists, biologists, linguists, and psychologists, relocated as part of the EU programme Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).

Among the 668 scientists who moved to Poland is Rohan Soman from India. He now works at the Gdansk Institute of Fluid-Flow Machines of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

“I must admit I did not know much about Poland when this opportunity first arose”, says the doctoral student. “However, I quickly noticed that the classes here are at a good level, and the Institute is recognised as both prestigious and well-funded. I specialise in mechanics, studying the impact of wind turbines on human health. After finishing my scholarship, I was offered to stay here and continue working at the Institute of Fluid-Flow Machines, so my Polish adventure is not over.”

Rohan is one of 27 Indian researchers who decided to move to Poland over the last 10 years. There are as many Spaniards, the largest group are Ukrainians – 34, followed by Germans – 32, and Italians – 24.

The scholarships are granted for anywhere from one to three years. “They are given to scientists who already have a doctoral degree, or at least 4 years of research experience”, explains Anna Wiśniewska from the National Contact Point for Research Programmes of the European Union, which helps scientists to obtain EU grants, including those for projects abroad. “The programme covers the cost of living, travel expenses, provides a family allowance, and finances research. The grant money goes to the university or company that accepts a scientist from abroad”, Wiśniewska explains.

Thanks to MSCA, some foreign scientists were employed by companies such as Top Gan – a manufacturer of semiconductor laser diodes, or CTA – specialising in medical imaging and virtual reality. The programme is also appreciated by scientific institutions, including the Polish Academy of Sciences: The M. Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, and The Institute of Physical Chemistry.

“Mobility is intrinsic to the scientific profession. International conferences or research projects, grants obtained abroad are now an indispensable part of high level scientific research”, says Prof. Adam Szewczyk, Director of The M. Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology. “We offer such conditions to our employees and scientists from abroad alike”.

Prof. Marcin Opałło from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw points out that the several hundred foreign scientists working for Polish scientific centres are a valuable boost of energy, “Thanks to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, 27 foreigners were admitted to our Institute. They are Ukrainians, Belarusians, but also Germans, and Indians. What they brought in was their expertise, but also a slightly different perspective on things, resulting from the experience they gained in their countries. This is a most precious addition to our efforts,” says the Director of the Institute.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions was established in 1997. Since then, it has assisted 135,000 scientists from all over the world in their pursuit of a career. Among them were 8 Nobel Prize winners, and an Oscar winner (award for software engineers in the special effects category). MSCA is about career development, but also about the mobility of experts: scholarships are awarded to the best and most promising scientists from all over the globe who either come to Europe or move between EU countries. The grants may also be awarded for use outside the Old Continent, but then the recipient is obliged to return to Europe for one year after the period of secondment.

This remarkable grant programme, commemorating the Polish chemist and two-time Nobel Laureate Maria Skłodowska-Curie, is funded from EU’s Horizon 2020.