Germany encourages brain gain with 21.5 million euro prize fund

January 24, 2002

Brussels, 23 January 2002

Germany is attracting talented young foreign researchers to the country with a 21.5 million euro prize fund.

The Sofja Kovalevskaja awards will be presented for the first time on 31 January in the Berlin opera house by the Alexander von Humboldt foundation to 29 top young researchers from East, West and Central Europe, Asia and Australia, each of whom will receive up to 1.2 million euro aimed at supporting them during a three year period of research in Germany.

The scientists will work in research organisations of their choice and build new research groups which should continue after they leave.

The initiative is being funded by the German Federal Ministry for education and research, and is aimed at taking the internationalisation of research in Germany to a new level.

'Cooperation with these highly talented young researchers could have an effect similar to a vitalising vitamin injection in the German research landscape,' said Professor Wolfgang Frühwald, President of the Alexander von Humboldt foundation. 'Creating a cooperative link between the young research elite and German colleagues at the beginning of their promising careers means that we can be sure that our own scientific organisations will benefit.'

'It's the freedom to do research which is the great thing,' said Italian award winner Matilde Marcolli, who will be working at the Bonn-based Max Planck Institute for mathematics, after seven years researching in the USA. 'The award gives me the chance to try out new paths in research instead of just going round and round in technology, which I actually understand already.'

Artificial intelligence, European law, cancer vaccines, environmentally friendly solvents, nanocomputer circuits and the growth process of human fatty tissues are just some of the areas to be covered by the 29 research projects. Researchers come from a range of disciplines: ten from life sciences, six from physics, five from chemistry but also from materials science, philosophy, electronics, earth science, mathematics and law.

Eight of the award winners had been based in the USA, five of whom are originally from Germany, the other three coming from Belgium, Italy and Russia. From the other 21, another five come from Russia, and the rest from Australia, China, Italy, Korea, Austria, Poland, Sweden and Spain.

Some 109 researchers applied for the Sofja Kovalevskaja award with female applicants being more successful than their male colleagues. A third of women researchers were successful in their applications, whereas only a quarter of the men qualified.

For further information, please consult the following web address: ova.htm

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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