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Brussels, 9 December 2010

EU's Marie Curie programme funds its 50000th researcher

The European Union's Marie Curie Actions programme, which provides funding for some of the world's best young researchers, celebrates a special milestone today with a conference in Brussels to mark its 50 000th beneficiary. The event was opened by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, together with European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek and Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, who has overall responsibility for the Marie Curie programme. Since its launch in 1996, the Marie Curie programme has supported training for researchers of 100 different nationalities working in 70 countries.

"The Marie Curie Actions programme produces brilliant researchers, who are at the heart of the knowledge-based economy Europe is aiming for. It enables our most promising researchers to gain experience abroad, in Europe and beyond, and it allows us to attract the best young researchers from outside the EU so that Europe can benefit from their talents," said Commissioner Vassiliou.

Of the 50,000 researchers to receive Marie Curie grants to date, 40% were women. Nearly 6 300 universities, research organisations and companies worldwide (including 5 140 in the EU) have participated in the programme since 2007. The budget for the Marie Curie scheme is € 4.7 billion for the period 2007-2013 and 80% of the funding is dedicated to training researchers who are under 35.

The countries hosting the highest number of Marie Curie researchers since the programme's launch are the United Kingdom, followed by Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy. However, interest in the programme is increasing all over Europe; the total number of grant applications has increased by 65% in the past three years and the number of Marie Curie researchers is expected to hit 90,000 by the end of 2013.

Several Nobel Prize winners are actively involved in training the EU-funded researchers. In the past five years, they have included Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine), Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg (Physics, 2007), and Jean Marie Lehn (Chemistry, 1987). Several researchers involved in current or recent Marie Curie projects have received recognition for their work.

Conference: 'Marie Curie Actions for an Innovative Europe'

25 researchers will represent the 50 000th Marie Curie research fellow at the Brussels conference, entitled 'Marie Curie Actions for an Innovative Europe' (9&10 Dec, venue: Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire). Together with 250 other participants, including MEPs, policymakers, representatives of universities, research institutions, major companies and SMEs, they will discuss some of the recent outstanding research carried out by Mare Curie fellows in the areas of cancer, cardiology, fertility, climate change, renewable energy, art conservation, safety of transport infrastructure and others.

As well as focusing on recent achievements, they will also reflect on how best to improve the programme in future, particularly in relation to mobility, training, skills and career development.

How beneficiaries are chosen

In order to achieve an innovative Union, Europe needs world-class researchers who can tackle current and future challenges. The European Union is committed to inspiring, motivating, training and retaining its highly-skilled researchers.

Applications for Marie Curie grants are evaluated by an independent panel of renowned European and international scientists. The evaluation is based on the scientific quality of the project and its likely impact on European competitiveness, as well as on the excellence of the training programme, host institute and the researcher. Only the best projects are funded.

Marie Curie fellows receive employment contracts for up to three years, as well as full social security cover and a pension.

7000 new jobs forecast

The Marie Curie Actions are part of the People programme within the EU's 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. In 2011, the Marie Curie Actions will have a budget of €772 million and are expected to create 7 000 new jobs.

In additional to individual fellowships, the Marie Curie Actions also support doctoral candidates, partnerships between academia and industry, short-term exchanges and the reintegration of researchers returning from abroad.

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