SCOTLAND’S post-graduate and early-career researchers are to benefit from a pioneering programme of European placements and exchanges in an initiative also designed to build and consolidate European research partnerships.

As part of the scheme, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) is investing around £934,000 in a new Saltire Emerging Researcher Scheme. It is one part of a major £6.75 million Scottish Government initiative to support international and EU activity.

Research consortiums formed between university partners were asked to bid for up to £100,000 by putting forward projects designed to promote mobility between Scottish and European research activities.

Following an assessment of the bids by a panel of experts, a programme has been created which will support a total of around 70 exchanges.

Among the partnerships receiving funding are a number created through the Scottish research pooling initiative, as well as ones from the Scottish graduate schools of arts and humanities and social sciences. They cover a wide range of research fields including chemistry, marine science, the natural environment, digital infrastructure and languages.

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In addition to individual sets of exchanges, the funding also includes support for an umbrella programme of activities for all researchers involved in the scheme.

The “Team Saltire” events will provide networking opportunities, workshops and masterclasses as well as mentoring and public engagement activities. The project will conclude with a showcase conference and awards ceremony in August 2022.

Welcoming the announcement, Higher and Further Education Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “These awards provide excellent opportunities to develop the next generation of research talent in Scotland and I am pleased to see such strong proposals from our research pools and other consortia to support and grow EU connections.

“Maintaining connections with the EU is crucial and re-inforces Scotland’s leadership in working collaboratively with key partners to tackle global challenges including the pandemic, driving net zero transition and enhancing digital and other growth opportunities right across the economy of Scotland.”

Stuart Fancey, director of research and innovation at the Scottish Funding Council, said: “Scotland is a world-leader in many areas of academic research thanks to collaboration as well as to individual brilliance.

“In an ever more competitive environment we need to create even stronger links between our universities here in Scotland and internationally.

“So, today’s announcement of funding for the Saltire Emerging Researcher Scheme is an incredibly important one.

“There is a huge commitment from everyone to making this work really well for the post-graduate and early career researchers involved and I look forward to following progress over the coming months.”