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The Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN) has launched the subprogramme called the Severo Ochoa Support for Excellence Centres and Units —Official Gazette (BOE) 15 April 2011— in order to promote research excellence that is conducted in Spain in university departments or institutes, foundations and centres, institutes and units of the public research organisation. The applications can be sent from 25 April to 16 May 2011.

The underlying purpose is to strengthen the development of the strategic research capacities of centres already existing that comply with the requisites for excellence by evaluating their results, having an effect not only on the execution and organisation capacity of the research, but also on the strategy of incorporation, recruitment and mobilisation of human resources, in international projection and collaboration and in the dissemination of the generated knowledge to the society.

Accreditation as a Severo Ochoa excellence centre or unit will be valid for four years. The selected centres can obtain an economic subsidy of a million Euros annually —a maximum of ten aids a year will be granted—, facility for access to other competitive convocations, preferential access to large research installations, flexibility in the contracting of personnel (scientists and technologists) and a scientific recognition that will give them preferential visibility in the obtaining of sponsorship aid.

At the end of the four years, having completed a maximum list of 40 centres, the beneficiaries that want to renew their accreditation will have to compete again with new candidates in order to enter the programme.

The requests are grouped around these major areas:

  • Life sciences
  • Mathematics, experimental sciences and engineering 
  • Human and social sciences

Requisites for the candidates

Accreditation can only be achieved surpassing very demanding quality standards of scientific production, training and international talent recruiting.

The centres or units must have a scientific director with a recognised international projection and experience in the leadership and management of research. In addition, they have to demonstrate consolidated leadership in the scientific areas to which the evaluated research activities pertain.

The candidates will have to present a list of ten researchers contractually related to the centre and demonstrate that in the last five years (2005-2009) they had quality scientific production, with an average impact over 50% of the world mean in their area. The impact factor is a criterion recognised internationally as an indicator of research excellence.

The first selection phase will evaluate the scientific record of the centre or unit in the last five years. Having passed this phase, the candidates must present a research programme that contributes to the development of strategic research capacities and to the improvement of its international ranking reflected in high-level scientific production.

The application will also include a human resource programme (training, mobility, recruitment and promotion) and an evaluation and monitoring plan in which the objectives to reach during the four years of accreditation are laid out.

Evaluation panel

The evaluation of the candidacies will be done by a scientific committee for each of the subject areas of access. Each committee will have a minimum of eight members, all of them scientists of recognised international prestige named by the Severo Ochoa Management Committee.

Call for applications (Starting: 25/4/2011 - Ending: 16/5/2011)

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