Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

© Alain Herzog – EPFL – 2017

GENERAL QUESTIONS

The programme will fund between 40 and 120 fellowships depending on the fellowship duration requested by the granted applicants. Fellowships will be granted for a duration of 12, 18, 24, or 36 months based on the field of research and on the level of development/maturity of the proposed innovation.

The EPFLeaders4impact fellowship consists of a monthly contribution of EUR 2’740 to the salary of the postdoctoral researcher at EPFL. The EPFL academic supervisor must complement this EU contribution to the salary of the EPFLeaders4impact fellow (co-funding cannot come from funding schemes requiring time-keeping such as H2020 / Horizon Europe or Innosuisse) and pay for the other associated costs (research costs, equipment, travel expenses, conferences, open access publications, etc.). Please contact the Human Resources in your prospective school if you wish to have detailed on your salary, including social security benefits such as AVS (pension scheme), AC (unemployment insurance), and child benefits.

EPFLeaders4impact fellowships are available in any discipline included in the research areas of EPFL. Applicants are free to choose their project topic, which must address at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and their intended host supervisor.

Research funded by the EPFLeaders4impact programme can only be conducted at the EPFL campuses in Lausanne, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Valais, or Fribourg, Switzerland. Visits, short stays, and/or a secondment at the non-academic partner are nonetheless strongly encouraged.

Applications must be completed entirely online via the EPFL Research Office application platform.  All details about the application process are specified in the “application guidelines.”


ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

The EPFLeaders4impact programme is open to citizens of any nationality. Applicants must, however, meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Applicants must be Experienced Researchers (ER); they must hold a PhD degree or have at least 4 years of full-time equivalent research experience by at the latest the date of recruitment.
  2. Applicants must meet the transnational mobility criteria of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. They must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Switzerland for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the call deadline. Exceptions – designed to ensure equal opportunities – include the time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status, compulsory national service, maternity leave, and/or short stays such as holidays.
  3. Applicants must be able to carry out full-time research during the fellowship period. Parental leave, sick leave, care leave, and military leave are nevertheless permitted.

You are not eligible to apply if you have studied/worked in Switzerland for more than 12 months (365 days) during the three years immediately before the call deadline.

Exceptions to the mobility rule related to Covid-19 may be considered on a case-by-case analysis. Please contact the Programme Management Office (PMO) ([email protected]) to discuss your particular situation.

Yes. Granted applicants, however, must obtain their PhD degree before signing their employment contract. The fellowships may start at the latest on 1 October 2022 for the first call and on 1 January 2023 for the second call. If not already holding a PhD degree, applicants must include in their application a formal statement from their university indicating their expected graduation date.

Researchers without a doctorate are eligible as long as they can demonstrate to have at least 4 years of full-time equivalent research experience. “Research experience” means any professional or academic research activity acquired in the public or private sector.

Full-time equivalent research experience is measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited), even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged. In most countries this is the Master degree, but depending on the country this may also be a Bachelor degree.

 To show that you have four years of full-time equivalent research experience, applicants must fill out this table and submit it as part of their application. They must be able to provide proofs of the claims made in this table.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact their intended academic supervisor before the submission of their application. In their application, applicants will have to indicate the name of their intended academic supervisor and to tick a box confirming that they have the written consent of all participants, including their intended academic supervisor, on their involvement and the content of the proposal, as well as of any researcher mentioned in the proposal on their participation in the project.

Upon submission, the intended academic supervisor will receive an automatic notification indicating that he/she was listed in an EPFLeaders4impact proposal.

The PMO, however, will only formally confirm the commitment of the intended academic supervisor at a later stage: after the evaluation of the proposals by external experts, the PMO will conduct a viability check by contacting the intended academic supervisors of all shortlisted applicants to confirm the availability of the required infrastructure, supervision, and resources to successfully complete the project. Please discuss these requirements with your intended academic supervisor before submission.

Applicant have the possibility to indicate the name of their intended non-academic partner in their application. If an applicant has not yet identified a non-academic partner at the application stage, he/she must specify a particular non-academic sector and provide examples of potential partner organisations. If the applicant is granted, he/she will have until month 3 of the fellowship to find a non-academic partner and inform the PMO thereof.

Please refer to the following website to have an overview of potential academic supervisors at EPFL: https://www.epfl.ch/labs/.


SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATION

Applications must be submitted via the EPFL Research Office online application platform.

The application deadlines for the EPFLeaders4impact programme are:

  • Call 1: 31 January 2022 (17:00 CEST)
  • Call 2: 2 May 2022 (17:00 CEST)

No. Any reference letters that will nonetheless be submitted will be deleted from the application files.

Application forms cannot be modified after they have been submitted.

Each applicant may only submit one application per call.

Applicants who are not selected during the first call can either resubmit a revised proposal in the second call or apply with a new project idea.


EVALUATION OF YOUR APPLICATION

The selection process includes the following steps:

  1. Eligibility check – The PMO conducts an eligibility check of all applications.
  2. Evaluation of proposals – Each eligible application is assigned to three external reviewers and assessed based on the EPFLeaders4impact evaluation criteria described below. A fourth external reviewer is appointed as key evaluator in charge of reviewing the three evaluations and of forging a consensus among the three experts on a final score for each criterion and on an overall final score.
  3. Ranking of applications – The PMO establishes an initial ranking based on the overall final score received by each applicant.
  4. Viability check – The PMO performs a viability check of the applications by contacting the intended academic supervisors of all applicants above the threshold (3.5 out of 5.0) to confirm the availability of the required infrastructure, supervision, and resources to successfully complete the project. The intended academic supervisor is also asked to indicate whether he or she has a conflict of interest with the intended non-academic partner. Based on this viability check, the PMO establishes the final ranking.
  5. Final funding decision – An Intersectoral Excellence Committee (IEC) makes the final decision on the granting of the fellowships. During the decision meeting, the IEC members discuss the ranking and formally approve the granting of the EPFLeaders4impact fellowships to the top-ranked applicants while also approving a reserve list.
  6. Notification to applicants – The PMO notifies the applicants of the outcome of the evaluation process within two weeks of the IEC decision meeting. The applicants who are put on a reserve list are informed of their position on this list and contacted in case some of the initially granted fellows withdraw. Granted applicants are expected to start their fellowship at their earliest convenience, but ideally within four months of the notice of the fellowship.

Applications are assessed based on the following criteria:

Each criterion is scored from 0 to 5.0. To ensure grade coherence and hence a fair treatment of all applications, all experts are requested to interpret the following scale rigorously:


ROLE OF THE ACADEMIC SUPERVISOR

The academic supervisor must be an EPFL professor or senior scientist (“Maître d’enseignement et de recherche”). There is no restriction on the number of EPFLeaders4impact fellows that an EPFL professor/MER can host.

The academic supervisor must ensure that the fellow meets the EPFLeaders4impact programme requirements, notably the EPFLeaders4impact training programme, the mandatory collaboration with the non-academic sector, as well as the time-keeping and reporting duties.

The EPFLeaders4impact fellows will benefit from intersectoral exposure through a mandatory collaboration with a partner from the non-academic sector, which can be a company, an NGO, an international organisation, or a public institution.

EPFLeaders4impact fellows may collaborate with their partner remotely, but visits, short stays, and/or a secondment of minimum 3 months are strongly encouraged.

The practical arrangements for the collaboration with the non-academic partner must be clearly outlined in the project proposal, including the expected outcome in terms of knowledge transfer, new product/service development, and career prospects.


AFTER THE DECISION

Results will be communicated in early June 2022 for the first call and in early September 2022 for the second call.

You may begin your fellowship once you have signed your employment contract, namely:

  • First call: at the earliest on 1 July 2022 and at the latest on 1 October 2022;
  • Second call: at the earliest on 1 September 2022 and at the latest on 1 January 2023.

EPFLeaders4impact fellows must fulfil the following reporting duties:

  1. An annual progress report.
  2. A Professional Career Development Plan (PCDP), to be updated on a yearly basis.
  3. A Dissemination, Exploitation, and Outreach Plan, to be updated on a yearly basis.
  4. A Data Management Plan, to be submitted at the beginning of the fellowship and updated at the end.

More details on the reporting duties are available in the Rules and Regulations of the EPFLeaders4impact programme.

No.

Please consult the information available on the following websites: “Working at EPFL” and the EPFL Postdoc Association.

EPFL is located in the French‐speaking part of Switzerland, and most undergraduate teaching takes place in French. EPFL is also a renowned international institution: research is primarily conducted in English, and a large number of Master and PhD courses are also taught in English. Although knowledge of French is not a prerequisite, EPFLeaders4mpact fellows are strongly encouraged to learn this language as it will make their life easier and richer. The Language centre enables new students and employees to learn French quickly and free of charge. Fellows may also attend courses to bring their level of English up to that required in international research. Courses in German and Italian, Switzerland’s two other official languages, are also available.


Funded by

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101034260.