We met Estefanía Martínez Jover, the Project Manager of UNA4CAREER, to learn more about what the project has on offer. And, of course, we did not miss out on the opportunity to ask for her views on Una Europa…
Estefanía, please introduce yourself.
My name is Estefanía Martínez Jover, I was born in Madrid, Spain. I have a degree in Biological Sciences, complemented with an MBA in biotechnological companies management. I have solid experience in scientific project management, always in big consortia at regional, national, EU and international level. I also have professional and educational experience in pedagogy. Currently, I am the project manager of UNA4CAREER.
What is UNA4CAREER?
UNA4CAREER is the acronym of “UNA Europa, an alliance of universities for the emergence of talent and the development of research CAREERs”. It is a programme for hiring postdoctoral researchers led by Universidad Complutense de Madrid, UCM, and co-funded by the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND.
UNA4CAREER is a multi-annual fellowship programme – 60 months – that will attract 40 experienced researchers in two international calls – 20 researchers per call. The researchers will incorporate into one of the top ranked Universities in Spain, at one of the 94 UCM excellence groups on four knowledge areas: Humanities, Health, Social Sciences and Experimental Sciences.
UNA4CAREER leverages the Una Europa Alliance whose members will take part as Partner Organisations to offer a convenient framework for the implementation of the international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral principles of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.
How does it work?
UNA4CAREER is open to 40 researchers willing to move to Spain, from any nationality, in any discipline: the candidates will propose the research project that they will develop in one of the host excellence groups at UCM for three years. To complement their research experience, researchers are encouraged to do secondments in academic and non-academic institutions. International experts will evaluate and select the best proposals. Excellent research will be funded and attractive working conditions will be provided.
What are the benefits of getting involved?
UNA4CAREER helps spreading the best practices of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. It is an open network enabling researchers to combine their work in the Triple I:
International: hired fellows may be of any nationality and transnational cooperation in the development of the proposed projects by the eight UNA Europa countries is encouraged;
Intersectoral: the proposed projects are expected to interact with organizations in the non-academic sector, such as companies, administrations, museums, libraries, NGOs, …;
Interdisciplinary: collaboration between research groups from different complementary disciplines.
What are the opportunities for academics?
The UNA4CAREER programme is expected to generate numerous benefits for the university members of Una Europa such as the recruitment of dynamic, highly competent researchers, including conditions that are competitive internationally; boosting research and innovation capacity, enhanced cooperation and transfer of knowledge between sectors and disciplines; strengthening of international and intersectoral collaborative networks.
We must not forget that the community also benefits in parallel since, at European level, UNA4CAREER will advance the aligning of practices and policies in the context of the EU Human Resources Strategy for Researchers; increase the international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility of researchers in Europe; support the practice of Open Science; improve in the working and employment conditions, strengthening of Europe human capital base in R&I; and lead to better quality R&I, contributing to Europe competitiveness and growth.
And for postdocs?
In addition to the benefits explained earlier, UNA4CAREER postdoctoral researchers will benefit in several ways:
The Excellence of the research performed is guaranteed because researchers will join research groups at UCM that have been awarded the “Excellent” label according to the evaluation performed by the Spanish Research Agency in 2018.
Researchers are expected to enhance their creative and innovative potential to diversify their individual competence in terms of the acquisition of skills through advanced training and international and intersectoral mobility. In particular through:
Training activities. In order to help researchers to develop complementary training on research and transferable skills with a truly European dimension, UNA4CAREER offers access to the full variety of training courses available at the eight Una Europa partners.
Secondments. During the implementation of the projects, researchers may be seconded outside the UCM to an organisation from either the academic or the non-academic field.
Optionally, researchers can get some teaching experience, as they will have the possibility of collaborating as a teacher, in undergraduate and master’s degree subjects.
Finally, the UCM has been recognized with the ‘HR Excellence in Research Award’, granted to the institutions committed to improving its Human Resources policies in accordance with the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers.
What do you think of Una Europa in relation to the project?
Una Europa is an excellent initiative, where universities take a step forward and set themselves new challenges in higher education, by learning from the present and designing and implementing new innovative models of cooperation.
Students and researchers who benefit from these initiatives will be better prepared to face the challenges posed by the changing society in which we live.
This framework is a synergy in which all actors benefit, for example, universities hosting UNA4CAREER researchers doing secondments, receive numerous benefits, such as excellence of the researchers guaranteed by a highly competitive international selection procedure; possibility of expanding the network of research through international contacts and collaborations; new funding opportunities arising from an expanded network of contacts and possibility to access new consortia; opportunities for two-way knowledge transfer: new techniques, methodologies, approaches…; intersectoriality: given the nature of the projects financed through the programme, the possibility of establishing contacts with the productive sector is to be expected; and all this without forgetting that costs related to the research activity of the researcher at the hosting institution are covered by the programme.
Do you have a message for the Una Europa community & beyond?
UNA4CAREER is one of the first projects in which the benefits of being part of Una Europa are materialized. After this, many more projects will come; the door is open for more collaboration in the future.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people from Una Europa and the partners who help us managing communication, and also all the research groups and non-academic entities who have shown interest in collaborating with us.
Interview by Nacho Parra, Universidad Complutense de Madrid