The annual funding of €250,000 over five years and the possibility of being taken on as a permanent member of staff represent a great boost to these talented young researchers as they embark on their scientific careers.
The Helmholtz Association’s attractive funding package motivated four Germans to return from abroad and persuaded one foreign researcher to relocate to Germany. The successful candidates come from renowned research institutes such as the California Institute of Technology, Yale University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.
“The very high standard of applications that we received from candidates based at renowned research institutes all over the world shows that the idea of leading a Young Investigators Group in Germany is very popular within the international scientific community,” said Prof. Jürgen Mlynek, President of the Helmholtz Association. “The reliable career opportunities that we offer young people allow us to attract the brightest minds. This successful recruitment drive is a major asset for the German research system.”
By giving younger researchers the opportunity to set up their own research groups, the Helmholtz Association is offering them excellent career prospects. “It is particularly important for scientists in their 30s to set the course for their future career,” Mlynek said. The leaders of Helmholtz Young Investigators Groups can conduct their own research, put their ideas into practice, and benefit from the excellent working conditions and equipment at the Helmholtz Centres.
The 14 researchers were selected after a multi-stage competition that included holding presentations before an interdisciplinary jury and evaluation by external experts. The Helmholtz Association will conduct an interim assessment of all of the groups after three to four years. If the assessment is positive, the position will be made permanent and the researcher will join the tenure track system. The programme also strengthens links between Helmholtz Centres and partner universities. The young researchers conduct research at a Helmholtz Centre and give lectures or seminars at the partner university, thus acquiring qualifications for an academic career. To this end, the Helmholtz Association also jointly offers appointments for junior professors.
A total of 244 researchers from Germany and abroad applied to the Helmholtz Centres. Around a third of the applicants were women. In the final round of the tough competition, seven women and seven men were able to convince the international, interdisciplinary jury of the merits of their research projects and their own ability to lead a Young Investigators Group. Women have accounted for around 34 percent of the total number of group leaders since the programme started in 2003.
Including this year’s winners, the Helmholtz Association has supported a total of 164 Young Investigators Groups in ten competition rounds to date. Half of the costs are covered by the Initiative and Networking Fund, which the Helmholtz Association set up to allow strategic plans to be initiated rapidly and flexibly. These plans include addressing new topics, expanding networks in the research system, and developing measures for promoting young researchers. The Helmholtz Centres provide the other half of the funding. With the money they receive, the leaders of the Young Investigators Groups are able to pay their own salaries and are usually able to hire an additional three or four people and equip a laboratory.Further information:
Janine Tychsen | Helmholtz Association
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