Zukunftskolleg Goes Europe: Six Successfull Years with Marie Curie

After six years, the Marie Curie COFUND Zukunftskolleg Incoming Fellowship Programme (henceforth ZIF-MC), funded by the EU with € 6.24 million, has ended. At the launch of the programme in 2012, the aim of the Zukunftskolleg and its ZIF-MC Programme was to be established as a permanently leading centre for the training and promotion of top-level early career researchers in Europe. As the various indicators show, the Zukunftskolleg succeeded in its ambitious goal.

During the funding period, the Zukunftskolleg published five calls for ZIF-MC 2 year Postdoctoral and 5-year Research Fellowships. It received more than 1,000 eligible applications from 78 countries. The ZIF-MC Programme1 attracted excellent and experienced researchers from inside and outside Germany and developed mutually beneficial long-term research partnerships. In total, 46 2-year Postdoctoral Fellows and seven 5-year Research Fellows were recruited. Of these 53 Fellowships, 42% were awarded to female researchers. Two-thirds of the ZIF-MC Fellows had a nationality other than German and almost half of the international fellows came from outside Europe (43% non-EU countries).

The achievements of the ZIF-MC Programme can best be seen in the impact the fellows have generated. Together, they presented their research work in 40 Jour Fixe sessions within the Zukunftskolleg; published 377 articles, chapters, books and other publications; participated in 552 external public lectures, conferences and workshops; contributed to and started 189 research partnerships; and successfully acquired 77 externally-funded research grants that amount to € 12.1 million. Overall, 87% of all former ZIF-MC Fellows still work in research, one third of them as (junior) professors, promoting an inter¬disciplinary and international research agenda and close relations between researchers within Europe and outside.

In the past six years, the ZIF-MC programme made a research career in Germany more attractive and enlarged the postdoctoral community at the University of Konstanz; strengthened the internationality in higher education; promoted geographical mobility of early career researchers; encouraged interdisciplinary exchange and pioneering research ideas; supported international and intergenerational collaboration and research interconnectedness; and gave more prominence to women in research. The Zukunftskolleg thus succeeded in creating an environment for innovative research as well as an alternative career path for early career researchers in Europe and around the world.

1The ZIF-MC Programme was funded by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) Marie Curie Actions – People (co-funding of regional, national and international programmes), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the University of Konstanz.