Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.
Scientific Exchange Programme (Sciex) Bulgaria
The Scientific Exchange Programme between the New Member States and Switzerland, Sciex-NMS.ch for short, has given over 500 young researchers from new EU member states the opportunity to complete a short-term residency in Switzerland to further their research.
Promoting economic growth and improving working conditions
Research and Development
- 22 scholarships for research in Switzerland supported and closed under this initiative.
- Sciex Fellowship boosted the scientific career of promising young researchers. All Sciex fellows highly appreciated the opportunity of carrying out part of their research with a Swiss institution.
- From the perspective of the scientific networks, both Bulgarian and Swiss research community had through the Sciex Programme the opportunity to experience cooperation and to establish sustainable collaborations.
- Other Swiss academic and research institutions
On 7 December 2009, the Swiss Parliament voted on a bill concerning the Swiss Enlargement Contribution in support of the new European Union Member States, aimed at increasing the pertinent framework credit by CHF 257 million so as to extend the Contribution to the benefit of Bulgaria and Romania (CHF 76 million for Bulgaria and CHF 181 million for Romania). Within this context, the framework agreement foresees the establishment of a fund in the amount of CHF 2 million to finance scholarships for young Bulgarian research scientists who have been admitted to Swiss research institutes
To contribute to the reduction of the economic and social disparities in the enlarged European Union by supporting the professional and scientific competencies of the young researchers from the beneficiary countries and to foster sustainable cooperation between Switzerland and the beneficiary countries.
(i): to develop the individual capacities of the young researchers (human capital); (ii): to encourage scientific progress and innovation (forward-looking scientific prospects); (iii): to establish and strengthen the networks between Swiss and Bulgarian researchers
|Directorate/federal office responsible||
Swiss Contribution to the enlarged EU
Swiss Academic and Research Institution
|Budget||Current phase Swiss budget CHF 2'000'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 1'878'597|
Phase 1 01.06.2011 - 31.12.2017 (Completed)
Research funds and scholarship programme in Bulgaria and Romania
With the aim of strengthening research in Bulgaria and Romania, Switzerland funds a research and scholarship programme in the two countries. Currently 39 research projects are under way. The programme of scholarships enables over 100 graduates from Bulgaria and Romania to complete a fixed-term research residency in Switzerland.
Bulgaria and Romania are undertaking major efforts to strengthen their potential in the area of research and development. They are encountering, however, a number of obstacles on the way to a knowledge based economy. Often infrastructure and equipment are lacking. Institutional structures and international networks show room for improvement. The latter have had negative consequences for young academics in particular: many academics in Bulgaria and Romania are unable to undertake or complete research abroad because the costs are prohibitively high. The Sciex scholarship programme enables young Bulgarian and Romanian graduates to undertake research at a Swiss research institution for a limited period.
Switzerland also promotes Bulgaria and Romania as research locations through funding 39 research projects as part of its EU enlargement contribution. In these projects, Swiss research institutes work together with Bulgarian and Romanian partners. The results from these research projects strengthen the position of the research centres concerned and boost cooperation with Switzerland.
Scholarship programme: transfer of knowledge rather than brain drain
Camelia Stefanache is one of over 80 Romanian graduates who were able to work with a research team in Switzerland thanks to a Sciex scholarship. From 2012 to 2013 she carried out research on cell cultures at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) in Wädenswil (ZH). Something she particularly appreciated with the Sciex programme was the central focus placed on knowledge transfer between the home and host universities, and that the programme does not lead to the brain drain phenomenon, whereby scientists abandon their home countries.
Thanks to the scholarship programme, long-term partnerships have developed between the universities and research institutes involved, institutionalisingthe exchange of knowledge and cooperation in research. So for example there now exists a close partnership between the ZHAW and Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Romania, thanks to the research posting undertaken by Camelia Stefanache. The professor who supervised Camelia’s research at the ZHAW is regularly invited by the university to come to Romania to give lectures to doctoral students there.
Joint research projects in Bulgaria and Romania
The project themes are divided into different, predefined areas which were agreed with each country based on criteria for the best possible way of promoting the research centre. In Bulgaria a total of 13 research projects are being implemented in the three areas of ecological forestry, farming and waste management; social inequalities and regional differences; and development of new medicines. The 26 projects in Romania concern diseases of modern society, the effects of waste and pollutants on the environment and the climate, sustainable energy, economic growth and social inequalities. The SDC has entrusted the implementation of the joint research projects to the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Most of the projects have a duration of three years.
- gave over 500 academics from the new EU member states the opportunity to do a research residency in Switzerland;
- promoted and enhanced relations between Swiss universities and universities in the new EU member states;
- helped develop the research skills of young academics from the new EU member states and strengthen the research environment in the countries themselves;
Research Fellowships for Foreign Students in Switzerland
Gathering experience at several research institutes, including abroad, is often a necessary step for people who want to complete a post-doctoral qualification and pursue an academic career. However, many academics from the new EU member states are unable to undertake or complete research abroad because the cost of living is too high. The Sciex-NMS.ch fellowship programme has made it possible for young researchers to complete a period of study at a Swiss university.
International research cooperation – a win-win situation
The research residencies in Switzerland have allowed researchers to develop their individual skills and have promoted academic exchange, allowing the joint development of pioneering new approaches in research. Switzerland has brought its strengths in education and research to the table and at the same time cemented contacts with academic networks in the new EU member states. A prerequisite for applying for a fellowship is a partnership between the home and host universities.
From solar cells to invasive plant species: applied research thanks to Sciex-NMS .ch
The selection of fellowships was based exclusively on qualitative criteria, which meant a very broad range of projects received funding. Edvinas Orentas (30) from Lithuania spent one and a half years researching solar energy at the University of Geneva, investigating how efficient solar cells can be manufactured quickly and cheaply in a consumer-friendly form. Petr Dostal (37) from the Czech Republic also spent a post-doctoral year in Switzerland at the Institute for Biology in Bern. His research involved creating a combined Swiss and Czech database of invasive plant species, and this now serves as a basic research resource in both countries.
Human capital as a factor of production: cooperation between Swiss and foreign universities
The partner countries also benefit from the fellowship programme as it boosts an important factor of production: their human capital. In addition, networks in a large number of research disciplines are established, expanded and strengthened over the long term – which is also advantageous for Switzerland as a research location. The institutional partnerships often continue well beyond the research residency itself, including in new joint research projects.
The maximum length of stay at a Swiss university was set at two years. An upper limit was deliberately set to ensure that researchers did not lose the link to their home university. This fellowship programme aimed to encourage knowledge transfer between the partner countries, not to contribute to a 'brain drain'.
The fellowship programme:
The Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (swissuniversities) was responsible for coordinating the programme. It was implemented by means of collaboration between foreign and Swiss universities and their respective mentors (professors).