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Published

28 October 2015

Three new researchers networking as Mistra Fellows

People working in Mistra programmes can now apply for funding to spend a year working at an international organisation. Currently, three Swedish researchers are on their way out into the world. This is enabling them to build global networks, while also giving Mistra’s programmes international visibility.

The Mistra Fellows Programme is a new initiative aimed at establishing collaboration and enhancing knowledge exchange between Mistra’s various research groups on the one hand and international research organisations on the other.

The first successful applicant was Susanna Roth, an employee at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute working in the Mistra Indigo programme. For a year she worked at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), an independent Brussels think tank in the field of climate and energy. Her year there was something of a trial run, but proved so successful that Mistra’s Board did not hesitate to extend the initiative.

The plan is now for up to four researchers a year to get the chance of working for some international organisation with a focus on policy issues.

‘Our criteria for awarding funds is that the researchers should be engaged in a high-priority area and have a connection with one of our programmes. There must also be a need for information exchange between Mistra’s activities and the host body, which is often some form of think tank,’ says Christopher Folkeson Welch, Programmes Director at Mistra.

As long as these criteria are fulfilled, Mistra’s internal process is both simple and swift. What it requires is an application from a Mistra programme naming the planned researcher and the institution outside Sweden where (s)he is to stay, and specifying what the programme and the researcher are expected to achieve with the research stay. This is documented in an agreement between the organisation sending and the one receiving the researcher.

Exchange of experience

‘We think this initiative will benefit all parties. It will disseminate knowledge of Mistra’s work around the world and give the researchers who get the chance to go experience and qualifications, while the host organisations will get an insight into how Sweden sees the issues they are working on,’ says Johan Edman, Programmes Director at Mistra.

At present, there are three researchers who have had or will very soon receive the go-ahead to travel abroad. One of them is Dennis Eriksson of Mistra Biotech. In September he moved to Brussels to start working at the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO), an independent body that collaborates with research institutes and universities in more than 30 countries in such matters as plant improvement.

‘EPSO is a highly influential organisation when it comes to policy issues related to plant breeding and biotechnology. My hope is that, during my year with them, I’ll also be able to make the Swedish research community more visible,’ Eriksson explains.

Eriksson will be working primarily on an opinion-forming campaign started by Marit Paulsen, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) last year.

‘I hope the year will give me a range of rewarding experiences while also improving my career prospects.’

According to Christopher Folkeson Welch, exchanging knowledge and experience is particularly interesting in controversial subjects like plant breeding and genetic modification.

‘We’ll learn about the European view of this research and, at the same time, Dennis Eriksson can tell others about Mistra’s results and explain our view of this research area.’

Another recipient of funding within the Mistra Fellows framework is Svenne Junker of the Mistra Centre for Sustainable Markets (MISUM) and will be working at the OECD in Paris.

There are also plans for an exchange between Mistra Arctic Sustainable Development and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Text: Per Westergård, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

Facts about the Mistra Fellows Programme

This programme enables mainly younger researchers in existing Mistra programmes to stay at foreign think tanks or international
organisations, preferably in Europe or North America, for up to a year. The idea is that they should acquire an international view and a more profound understanding of European and international policymaking.

The stays are also intended to help the Fellows to establish contacts and, by extension, potentially intensify collaboration between the programme and the recipient organisation. During the stay, the researcher works on projects of relevance both to the programme and to the host organisation.