EU-FORA - The EUropean FOod Risk Assessment Fellowship Programme

EFSA’s EU-FORA fellowship programme offers a unique opportunity to motivated early to mid-career scientists from EU national risk assessment authorities and any other Article 36 organisation to increase their knowledge and experience in food safety risk assessment. 

The programme’s principal focus lies on chemical and microbiological risk assessment. It is aimed at professionals with a background in fields such as molecular biology, biology, microbiology, veterinary/human medicine, agronomy/agricultural science, biochemistry, chemistry, environmental science, food technology or toxicology.

How does it work?  For a period of 12 months of ‘learning-by-doing’, fellows will be placed at another European organisation involved in food safety risk assessment outside their home country. They will be fully integrated in the hosting organisations, participate in their work, gain first-hand experience and increase their knowledge of many scientific aspects relevant to food safety risk assessment.

EFSA’s fellowship initiative contributes to building the EU’s scientific assessment capacity and knowledge community. It will enhance the cooperation between Europe’s food safety agencies and with EFSA and contributes to the harmonisation of food risk assessment practices across Europe.

Are you interested? Is your organisation keen to host a fellow? 

The next calls for expression of interest for the second 12 month fellowship cycle starting in September 2018 are expected to be launched in October 2017. 

Information for fellows and their home organisations

Are you an early to mid-career scientist in the field of food safety and are looking for an exciting opportunity for your professional development? Read on and find out about benefits and requirements of this new opportunity.

What is in it for you?

You will gain extensive and hands-on knowledge of many scientific aspects related to food safety risk assessment. You will discover how to select and apply risk assessment methodologies, how to collect and analyse relevant data, how to use computer models in risk assessment and how to provide effective risk communication.

The ‘learning-by-doing’ approach at the hosting sites will give you the opportunity to gain valuable practical experience in many risk assessment areas. In addition, you will participate in an induction training at EFSA together with the other fellows and attend three additional common training modules spread throughout the 12 months of the fellowship.

Get inspired by the many interesting, innovative and enthusiastic people of the food safety risk assessment knowledge community you will meet during these 12 months. Stay in touch with these colleagues by actively shaping and participating in the fellowship alumni network.

We will award you a certificate of participation and we will publish the scientific report of your work as a fellow in a special issue of the EFSA Journal.

What does it take to become a fellow in EFSA’s new programme?

  • You are currently employed in a competent organisation listed under Article 36 of EFSA’s founding regulations and have been working there for at least a year at the closing time for application.
  • You have a university level degree in a field relevant to food safety such as molecular biology, biology, microbiology, veterinary/human medicine, agronomy/agricultural science, biochemistry, chemistry, environmental science, food technology or toxicology.
  • You have no more than 15 years of total work experience in the area of food safety.
  • You are a national of an EU or EFTA Member State.
  • Good command of English is a must! (minimum level: B2 according to CEFR).
  • See here the full eligibility and selection criteria.

How does your home organisation benefit?

You will return to your institute of origin with new skills and expertise as well as hands-on experiences in the area of food safety risk assessment. You will be a member of a strong EU-wide network of scientists in the area of food safety. Your network connections will enhance the cooperation activities of your home organisation in the EU environment of food risk assessment. 

Information for fellow hosting organisations

Are you a risk assessment authority of an EU Member State, Iceland or Norway? Is your organisation one of the other 300 EFSA Article 36 organisations? EFSA offers you the opportunity to host one or more motivated early to mid-career scientist(s) as part of an initiative to strengthen Europe’s food risk assessment capacity.

Your benefits

You will be able to enjoy the support of a motivated scientist with a food safety related background who will become an integral part of your workforce for one year, contributing to your organisation’s activities. You will have the opportunity to exchange views and knowledge with the fellow. Having a fellow in your team will enable you to get a perspective on food safety issues in other European countries. You will build a common forum with other hosting site organisations to exchange experience and best practice. You will cooperate with other hosting site organisations to build the new generation of risk assessors. Your organisation will benefit from the participation of the fellow’s supervisors in the fellowship alumni network.

Your organisation will also benefit from the final scientific report of the fellow at the end of the fellowship placement which will be published in a dedicated scientific issue of the EFSA Journal.  

Requirements for hosting sites

  • Your organisation has a strong capacity and extensive track record in one or more areas related to food safety risk assessment.
  • Your organisation will propose a range of relevant activities and one or more scientific area(s) for fellows to get involved in during their placements.

Your organisation needs to appoint an experienced supervisor for each fellow who will dedicate about eight hours per week to the mentoring of the fellow.

Fellow candidates:

Does the hosting site arrange and pay for the fellows’ accommodation?

No, the fellow arranges and pays for his/her accommodation. The monthly subsistence allowance the fellow receives from the hosting site is meant to be used for that. The hosting site may support the fellow with finding an accommodation.

Who arranges and pays for accommodation during the training modules in Parma, Vienna, Berlin and Athens?

Accommodation of fellows in hotels will be arranged under the programme.

Who pays for traveling expenses?

One return flight from the institution of origin to the hosting site will be paid for. All travel to and from the four training sites will be arranged under the programme. Fellows and hosting sites may agree on the coverage by the hosting site of additional travel costs at the start of the placement.

What are the arrangements for social insurance contributions?

The fellow is responsible to arrange for any possible social insurance contributions. It is important to note that the fellow is not an “employee” of the hosting site and the monthly subsistence allowance paid to the fellow is not a “salary”.

Applicants from which countries can apply?

Applicants from EU countries and EFTA can apply.

What is the allowance fellows will receive?

Fellows will receive a monthly net subsistence allowance of 2.200 € multiplied by the correction factor (revised on a yearly basis) of national cost of living for the 12 months of the fellowship. They will also receive one additional monthly allowance as installation support at the start of the programme in September 2017. The fellow is responsible to cover all other possible costs such as social insurance, etc.

Will fellows have to take unpaid leave for the duration of the placement or will the organisation of origin continue the payment of salaries, national insurance and pension contribution?

Contract status, continuation of payment of salaries, national insurance and/or social security contributions, and any other possible allowances are at the discretion of the organisation of origin. Fellows are advised to clarify the conditions of their release with their organisations of origin.

What are the minimum and maximum years of experience required for applying?

Fellows should be employed by an Article 36 organisation for at least one year at the closing date for application and have no more than 15 years of work experience in the area of food safety.

Are only employees from Article 36 organisations eligible to apply?

Yes.

Can employees of an organisation apply that has submitted its application to become an Article 36 organisation?

An organisation must be included in EFSA’s list of Article 36 organisations at the closing date of the call for its employees to be eligible.

Will fellows be placed in Parma, Vienna, Berlin and Athens during the year?

No. The one year placement will be at an Article 36 organisation within the EU, which has been selected as hosting site by EFSA. The reference to Parma, Vienna, Athens and Berlin refers to the “training modules” that will take place in each of those cities at some point during the 12 month placement.

What type of scientific report is the fellow expected to prepare at the end of the fellowship for publication in the EFSA Journal?

The fellow is expected to produce a technical and/or scientific report explaining the activities he/she was engaged in during the fellowship and outline findings and results.

Can a fellow participate in the programme for less than 12 months?

Answer: No. The programme has been designed for a 12 month period to meet its specific objectives.

What is an early to mid-career professional?

A scientist with a maximum of 15 years of professional experience in food safety related jobs (including risk assessment, risk communication and risk management) at the closing date of the call for expression of interest.

How extensive should my knowledge be in food safety risk assessment related areas?

You should have a solid understanding of the basic aspects of food safety, but not necessarily of food safety risk assessment. The three weeks induction training will provide you with the necessary foundation to prepare you for the placement at the hosting site after.

Can a fellow choose the fellow hosting site he/she will be placed at?

No. Based on the information received via the application from the fellow (scientific background, motivation, area of interest, etc.), the evaluation committee will proceed to find the best match with one of the work programmes proposed by the fellow hosting sites. The fellow will be involved in finalising the precise work plan, including the learning objectives, with his/her supervisor before the beginning of the hosting period.

What is the eligibility of a candidate from an organisation that is in the process of becoming an article 36 organisation?

Candidates from organisations which receive Article 36 status by December 2016 can apply for a fellowship starting in 2017.

Can individuals working at non-Article 36 organisations apply as fellows?

No.

Do fellows need to speak the language of the hosting country?

No. The hosting site may offer fellows to attend a respective language course to facilitate their integration.

Fellows hosting sites:

Can a hosting site select the fellows by preference?

For each available post at the hosting sites, the EFSA evaluation committee will propose two candidates whose profile is best matching the proposed work plan. The hosting sites then will select the successful candidate of the two.

Is there a limitation of the number of applications of potential fellows from a single article 36 organisation?

There is a limit of five fellows per Member State. There is no limit at the level of organisations.

Will there be a separate call to select fellow supervisors?

No. It is the responsibility of the fellow hosting site to nominate a staff member as supervisor for each fellow. This requirement is part of the grant agreement signed between EFSA and the confirmed fellow hosting site.

Can one fellow hosting site supervisor take more than one fellow?

Each fellow must have an individual fellow hosting supervisor knowledgeable in the area(s) of activities the fellow will be involved in during the 12 month placement. This supervisor is expected to spend eight hours per week for each fellow. There are no limitations as long as the above conditions are met.

Organisation of origin who releases the fellow

What is our involvement in the programme?

Staff members in your organisation may be interested in participating in the fellowship programme. Or you may suggest participation to staff members. In both cases participation of your staff members in this programme requires your agreement and support. You need to consider and prepare in advance for the absence of the respective staff member for the 12 month duration of the programme. You will also need to plan the return and re-integration of your staff members upon termination of the fellowship programme.