EU-FORA - The EUropean FOod Risk Assessment Fellowship Programme

Second round of applications is now open, don’t miss this unique opportunity!

Following the successful launch and kick-off of EFSA’s first EU-FORA fellowship programme cycle last September, EFSA has already opened the second 12-month round, by publishing two calls for applications as fellow or as hosting site.

EU-FORA is a unique opportunity for early to mid-career scientists from EU national risk assessment authorities or any other Article 36 organisation. The programme offers motivated candidates to increase their knowledge and hands-on experience in food safety risk assessment.

The programme’s principal focus is on chemical and microbiological risk assessment. It is aimed at professionals from the following fields: molecular biology, biology, microbiology, veterinary/human medicine, agronomy/agricultural science, biochemistry, chemistry, environmental science, food technology or toxicology.

How does it work?

For a 12-month period of ‘learning-by-doing’ fellows will be placed in another European food safety risk assessment organisation outside their home country. At the hosting sites, they will be fully integrated, participate in the organisation’s 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 cooperation among Europe’s food safety agencies and between them and EFSA, thus contributing to the harmonisation of food risk assessment practices across Europe.

Are you interested in becoming a fellow? Apply here (deadline: 15 January 2018)

Is your organisation keen on hosting a fellow? Apply here (Extended deadline: 31 January 2018)

Have a look and listen to the motivations expressed by a number of ‘pioneer’ fellows taking part in the current programme cycle.

Find out more in the information below, and check out the Q&A providing answers to frequently asked questions. 

Information for fellows and their home organisations

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

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, together with the other fellows, will benefit from induction training at EFSA and attend three further training modules spread over the 12 months of the fellowship and hosted by the national food safety authorities in Vienna, Berlin and Athens.

Become a part of the food safety risk assessment knowledge community! Get inspired by the many interesting, innovative and enthusiastic people you will meet during the 12 months of your fellowship, and stay in touch with your 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?

  • You are currently employed in a competent organisation listed under Article 36 of EFSA’s founding regulation and have been working there for at least six months at the closing time for applications.
  • 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)
  • Consult the full eligibility and selection criteria
  • Apply here, deadline for applications 15 January 2018

How does your home organisation benefit?

You will return to your organisation with new skills, more expertise and hands-on experience in food safety risk assessment. You will become a member of a strong EU-wide network of scientists in the area of food safety. Your network connections will enhance your home organisation’s cooperation activities in the EU food risk assessment environment. 

Information for fellow hosting organisations

Are you a food risk assessment authority in an EU Member State, Iceland or Norway? Or is your organisation one of the other 300+ Article 36 organisations supporting EFSA in its work? 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. For each new 12-month fellowship cycle, EFSA will rank the work programmes received based on their quality and relevance; therefore, the hosting sites participating may differ from year to year.

What’s new?

To further strengthen scientific cooperation across Europe, it is possible for a candidate hosting site this year to partner with another Art. 36 organisation (either within the same Member State or from another) and propose a joint work programme for hosting one or more fellows. The fellow should be placed at one hosting site for the whole 12-months, however, and no additional travel expenses will be financed by EFSA.

Another innovation is that the selected hosting sites will benefit from a coordination allowance, which will serve to contribute to the administrative efforts associated with welcoming a fellow.

Your benefits

You will be able to enjoy the support of a motivated scientist with a food safety related background from a different Member State. He or she will become an integral part of your workforce for one year and contribute 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 insights on food safety issues in other European countries.

You will create a common forum with other hosting site organisations to exchange experience and best practice, and you will cooperate with other hosting site organisations across Europe to build the new generation of risk assessors. Your organisation will also benefit from the participation of the fellow’s supervisors in the fellowship alumni network.

At the end of the fellowship placement, your organisation will benefit from the final scientific report on the fellow’s work, which will be published in a special 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 will need to appoint an experienced supervisor for each fellow to dedicate time to mentoring.

 

Fellow candidates:

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 in food safety risk assessment related areas be?

You should have a solid understanding of the basic aspects of food safety, but not necessarily of food safety risk assessment. The three-week induction training will provide you with the necessary basis for the subsequent placement at the hosting site.

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

No. Based on the information received via the fellow’s application (scientific background, motivation, area of interest, etc.), an EFSA evaluation committee will proceed to find the best match with one of the work programmes proposed by the fellow hosting sites. Once confirmed, the fellow will be involved in finalising the concrete workplan, including learning objectives, with the supervisor before the hosting period begins.

How about the eligibility of candidates from organisations being in the process of becoming Article 36 organisations?

Candidates from organisations which have Article 36 status by December 2017 can apply for a fellowship starting in 2018.

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 language course to facilitate their integration.

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 this purpose. The hosting site may support the fellow in 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 organisation of origin to the hosting site will be paid for. Also, all travel to and from the four training sites will be arranged under the programme. At the start of the placement, fellows and hosting sites may agree on coverage by the hosting site for additional travel costs.

What are the arrangements for social insurance contributions?

The fellow is responsible to arrange for any social insurance contributions, where necessary. 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 Member States and EFTA countries can apply.

What is the allowance fellows will receive?

Fellows will receive a monthly net subsistence allowance of 2 200 EUR (multiplied by the yearly revised correction factor reflecting the cost of living in the country of the hosting site) for the 12-month duration of the fellowship. To help them settle in, fellows will also receive an additional one-month allowance at the start of the programme in September 2018. The fellow is responsible for coverage of all other costs, including social insurance.

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 contributions?

Contract status, continuation of salary payment, national insurance and/or social security contributions, and any other 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 is the number of minimum/maximum years of experience for applying?

Fellows should have been employed by an Article 36 organisation for at least six months at the closing date for applications and have no more than 15 years of work experience in the area of food safety.

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

Not necessarily. The one-year placement will be at an Article 36 organisation within the EU, which has been selected as hosting site by EFSA. Depending on the selection outcome, this may include organisations located in the above mentioned cities. However, the references to Parma, Vienna, Athens and Berlin in the call refer exclusively 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 are fellows expected to prepare for publication in the EFSA Journal at the end of the fellowship?

Fellows are expected to produce a technical and/or scientific report explaining the activities he/she was engaged in during the fellowship and outlining findings and results.

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

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

Fellows hosting sites:

Can a hosting site select a fellow by preference?

Yes, at the last step of the selection process. For each available post at the hosting sites, the EFSA evaluation committee will propose two candidates whose profiles are best matching the proposed work plan. The hosting sites will then select the preferred candidate of the two.

Can a hosting site propose more than one work programme and propose to welcome more than one fellow?

Yes. However, each work programme will be evaluated separately by EFSA’s evaluation committee, so it may happen that not all proposed work programmes will be among the 15 highest-ranked proposals.

Is the number of applications from potential fellows employed by one single article 36 organisation limited?

No, the number of applications is not limited, but there is a limit to the number of final selected fellows, which is three selected fellows per organisation and a total of five selected fellows per Member State.

As it is possible to apply as a consortium this year, can my organisation also create a consortium with a university not listed as Art. 36 organisation?

No, all partners of the consortium, whether they are located in the same or different Member States, need to be on the Art. 36 list approved by EFSA’s Management Board.

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 mentor more than one fellow?

This is up to the hosting site to decide, but the following conditions need to be respected: 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 organise mentoring and supervision of eight hours per week for each fellow, of which at least two hours by the supervisor him/herself.

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 could suggest such 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 during the 12-month placement, and you will also need to plan the return and re-integration of your staff members upon termination of the fellowship programme.