With the Strategy on the European Research Area the German Federal Government seeks, inter alia, to strengthen the effectiveness of the European Research Area as a whole, with particular focus on the EU13 countries1. To this end, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research first launched the "ERA Fellowships" funding measure in November 2015 with the aim to increase research management capacities in the EU13 countries with regard to their ERA competencies and to promote the internationalisation of German facilities as well as the professionalisation of knowledge transfer and the expansion of networks.
The funding measure addressed science managers at middle administrative management level from research institutes, research funding organisations or higher education institutions in the EU13 countries. Non-university research institutes, research funding organisations or higher education institutions in Germany interested in knowledge transfer and in building or strengthening networks acted as host organisations.
The first ERA Fellowships started in autumn 2016 with a total of 30 guest stays at German institutions of between 6 and 12 weeks' duration. The programme was made up of two parts: The theoretical part consisted of two weeks on campus which took place at the start and in the middle (or the end, respectively) of the guest stays, which formed the practical part.
To start off their guest stay, the ERA Fellows met their partners from the German host organisations at the first week on campus in Bonn. Lectures and workshops focused on Horizon 2020 proposal submission, internationalisation strategies of science institutions, international research infrastructures as well as the identification of further funding opportunities and programmes. Throughout the event, emphasis was put on an interactive exchange among the participants.
The second week on campus took place in the frame of the national BMBF conference on the European Research Area in October 2016 in Berlin. The agenda comprised lectures and interactive exercises on Open Science and technology transfer as well as a meeting with members of the German parliament in which research policy topics were discussed.
Since the first round of the ERA Fellowships was considered a success by all involved, a second round was launched in spring 2019.
1 Comprising Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.