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Staff and recruitment

As mentioned, funding for CoEs allows for the short-term recruitment of researchers on the basis of contracts with a possibility of renewal for a second period. The FCT’s complementary initiatives to fund the recruitment of talent for a period of five years are targeted at early-stage researchers or at established scientists wishing to develop their careers in Portugal (in the most recent call). Together, these programmes have played an essential role in the recruitment of excellent early-stage researchers, independently of their nationality, as the programmes are open to all researchers.

While the CoEs have been able to attract the personnel they need, it has been difficult, mainly since the economic crisis, to keep them, given not only the temporary nature of the contracts and the associated longer-term uncertainty but also the difficulty of moving to permanent positions, as there are few job openings for permanent or medium-term positions in Portuguese universities [Concei^ao et. al., 2003, pp. 591-592). The poor career prospects of PhDs and post-doctoral researchers may lead the top talent to move to other countries. In addition, in areas closer to industry, there is the possibility of better and more competitive post-doctoral schemes (Box 9.3).

CoE co-ordinators generally express the desire to create a culture of independence and autonomy among early-stage researchers, while facilitating their co-operation and networking with senior members of staff through mixed research groups and leadership of research projects. There are also systems for evaluating the nature and quantity of publications of CoE members, which reward success and penalise a lack of scientific results. This environment is stimulating for early-stage researchers but also for the university staff that are part of the CoEs, as it improves their prospects of promotion, among other advantages.

Box 9.3. Institute of Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Management (INEGI) case study

INEGI is a non-profit organisation. It owns its facilities, including equipment and infrastructures, having taken advantage of the European structural funds. INEGI has developed, since its inception, very strong and successful links with industry (e.g. automobile, wind energy, aeronautics), which have produced important spillovers to Porto University, particularly through an AL in which INEGI participates. These links with industry have allowed INEGI to develop and implement, with Porto University, joint advanced training programmes and to achieve financial sustainability, with grants from the multi-year funding programme constituting only a small share of its resources. INEGI has a core group of human resources, mainly university staff and researchers contracted by INEGI. It also has a mobile group of early-stage researchers with temporary contracts associated with specific projects and those financed under the multi-year programme and the FCT’s 2007 and 2008 initiatives mentioned above. INEGI offers early-stage researchers excellent opportunities to develop research projects in industry, encouraging them to start up their own businesses (an average of two or three start-ups a year for the last ten years). The best researchers are also given the opportunity to move to the core group.

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