University aims to attract experts with a unique grant

Opening up to the world and aiming to bring some of the top scientists to Masaryk University are not just empty words. The Grant Agency of Masaryk University now offers a grant called the Muni Award in Science and Humanities.

This new call for applications makes it possible to obtain five million crowns (200 thousand euros) a year for up to five years and is aimed at established scientists, especially ERC or similarly prestigious grant winners, which is why the university has chosen to advertise the offer in the Science magazine.

“The idea of the Muni Award stems from the recommendation of the International Scientific Advisory Board to reduce the financing of smaller projects and instead invest a larger amount of money into a top project and a scientist,” says Petr Dvořák, the vice-rector for research, about the reasons for introducing this grant model, which is unique among Czech universities. Applications must be submitted by 3 November.

The call is open to winners of the Starting and Consolidator ERC grants as well as applicants whose projects were evaluated as A, but who received no funds due to financial constraints. Scientists with individual transferable grants at a similar level and prestige as ERC and those whose career and publications correspond to this level are also welcome to apply.

“To be eligible for the Muni Award, the scientist must become a full-time employee of the university and actually work at our premises. It is our goal not only to attract top-quality scientists but also to provide them with conditions that will entice them to stay,” adds Dvořák, who stresses that attracting such people often depends on personal contacts and recommendations.

The university found its inspiration for its new grant abroad, where they are more common. The grant is designed to attract both international applicants and those Czech scientists working abroad who are considering returning home. Compared to other grants, the Muni Award gives the receiving scientist complete freedom and flexibility in his or her research with minimum bureaucracy. The offer also includes the option to further develop their academic career.

The Grant Agency of Masaryk University (GAMU) currently only has funds available for one applicant per year. “If the first year is successful and we find a suitable candidate, we will seek out further resources to expand this support for exceptional scientists,” says Dvořák.

The Science Advisory Board and individual faculties will all have a say in choosing the successful applicant and the final decision will be approved by the International Scientific Advisory Board. “The university’s ability to meet the demands of the applicants and the alignment of their research with our own research activities and available equipment will, of course, play a role,” says Jana Hájková, the grant manager for the Research & Development Office in charge of the grant, when discussing the role of the faculties in the tender.

Another offer from GAMU

Jana Hájková also adds that the Muni Award will not reduce the funds available for research support through the MU Grant Agency. The agency aims to support scientists and research teams, increase the prestige of their work, and improve the university’s success rate in winning important international grants.

As an example, the agency issues calls for tenders in frontier research and international grant projects while funding is also available to students for scientific projects and conferences. Currently, there are two open tenders: one in specific research aimed at students and another in multidisciplinary projects designed to support inter-faculty research.

Masaryk university