TUM Brussels: European Talent Academy piloted – being even stronger together

The TUM branch in Brussels launched a new format that offers insights into the European research landscape and connects the TUM academic family even better with its strategic partners. The European Talent Academy offers young researchers from TUM and Imperial College London a platform to network in the best possible way. A virtual workshop series provided information on EU policies and presented relevant funding opportunities.

Collage of illustrations and a photo of the Brussels Liaison Officer Maria-Valerie Schegk

'Being even stronger together' is the underlying philosophy of the European Talent Academy. Collage: TUM Global

The underlying philosophy of the European Talent academy is to support early career researchers in their individual career path and connect them with strategic European partners. Organized by TUM Brussels for the first time in 2020/2021, the Academy provides a platform where like-minded people can exchange ideas. A brand new, young network between TUM and Imperial College London (ICL) is launched. Moreover, the program wants to raise awareness for the EU policy background in specific research fields and to prepare the complexity of European instruments for participants hands-on.

Supporting European talent

The theme of this year's edition of the European Talent Academy is: Climate change and energy research post Covid-19 – can the European Commission's Green Deal deliver the right support to the research community? A total of 18 researchers from TUM and ICL are following the pilot program. Coming from different disciplines, the researchers complemented each other very well and identified themselves with the overall challenge. The TUM participants are Tenure Track Professors as well as experienced Postdocs with an excellent profile. They are TUM Junior Fellows or Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellows.

The program was launched in November 2020 with a kick-off meeting, followed by a second kick-off in February this year. During these two initial sessions, the participants had the opportunity to present themselves and their research in short pitches and get to know each other. The core of the program – originally planned as a two-day workshop in Brussels – was presented in three virtual thematic sessions:

  • Nurturing individual talent: From ERC to EIC
  • Collaborative research: getting connected to Europe
  • Pitching your research workshop

The goal: to inspire and to inform

TUM Vice President Prof. Juliane Winkelmann, who was extremely appreciative of the initiative, welcomed the group to the first session, followed by some introductory words by Anna Korre, Co-Director of ICL’s Energy Futures Lab. Two ERC grantees provided insights into their individual journey to successfully applying for an ERC grant.

Professor Matteo Maestri from Politecnico di Milano and Anja Boisen from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) inspired the group with their successes and gave valuable tips on how to pursue personal goals in science. During the second session, Bernd Biervert, Head of Unit for Ecological and Social Transitions at the European Commission, and Milan Elkerbout, Research Fellow at the EU think tank CEPS, informed about the concept of the European Green Deal and what consequences the global health pandemic will have on the green transition in Europe.

Next to the insights from the external speakers, the group was presented with various EU funding opportunities for individual (ERC, EIC) and collaborative funding (Pillar 2 of Horizon Europe) were presented to the group. The program of this year’s European Talent Academy will close in early May, with a final workshop focusing on research pitches. This session will provide skills on improved oral and visual communication and will perfectly round out the program. Post-Corona, there will be an additional physical meeting with all participants on site in Brussels. Despite all the virtual possibilities, community building can best be advanced in face-to-face meetings.

About the flagship partnership with Imperial College London

In late 2018, ICL and TUM entered into a sustainable strategic partnership based on their longstanding collaboration. ICL is considered one of the best technical universities in Europe and is engaged in manifold research collaborations with TUM. With the flagship partnership, both institutions reconfirm their commitment to international collaboration across borders. To find out more, please visit the dedicated partnership page.

With the TUM Global Incentive Fund, TUM offers seed funding for projects between TUM and ICL. To support the further developing of these collaborative projects, current grantees are invited to a virtual networking event for Imperial-TUM seed fund recipients on May 17. With this session the grant holder will be informed about further funding opportunities (national or international) and will be given the opportunity to network with their colleagues. The aim of this networking event, like the European Talent Academy, is to support scientists in expanding their international networks and to introduce them to further funding opportunities for their projects.