New Edition of Polish Returns in Response to COVID-19 - NAWA

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The Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) encourages scientists who could support the fight against the coronavirus to return to Poland. They can expect attractive remuneration funded by NAWA as well as a starting grant from the National Science Centre (NCN) in Poland.

The efforts of numerous research teams around the world focus on developing a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 or inventing successful ways of treating the infected. In addition, researchers specialising in various scientific domains try to find solutions which will lessen the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. In response to the challenges related to COVID-19, the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) is announcing a dedicated call for applications under the programme Polish Returns 2020 – COVID-19 edition.

‘The entire world today is looking to scientists with hope that they will stop the COVID-19 pandemic,’ says Prof. Wojciech Maksymowicz, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education. ‘The health crisis we are currently witnessing affects almost all areas of social and economic life. We must concentrate all our efforts to combat it. For that purpose, we need doctors, outstanding scientists. In the past years, medical doctors chiefly left Poland. We are taking another measure to reverse this process. We should remedy the shortages in health care by looking to our own people who had left. This programme is the first step in the right direction. I can say that we are working on the next ones,’ the deputy minister adds.

The call for applications in the special edition of the Polish Returns programme is directed at scientists of Polish origin who work abroad and whose research can help broaden our knowledge of and find a solution to the vital problems caused by the COVID-19 epidemic and its consequences.

‘The aim of this action is primarily to bring back scientists in the areas of medicine, pharmaceutics, broadly defined biomedical sciences and health sciences. This human capital is extremely valuable at the moment and we must take action to bring these people back,’ says Dr. Grażyna Żebrowska, Director General of NAWA.

The programme offers funds for: remuneration for the returning scientist, remuneration for the members of the project group, and resettlement costs. Also the costs of adaptation and organisation of the workplace and preparation of research facilities are eligible for funding.

In addition, the National Science Centre (NCN) in Poland covers the costs of fundamental research in the form of the so called research component. This funding takes the form of a starting grant, which enables the scientist to launch their research right after their arrival.

‘I am happy about the developing cooperation between NAWA and the NCN. This is yet another programme in which the two agencies have joined forces. Thanks to the Polish Returns, experienced researchers will come back from abroad. Their return can not only help expand our knowledge of COVID-19 and help fight the coronavirus, but also strengthen Polish science in the areas in which it is most needed. It will boost the diversity, the degree of internationalisation and the mobility of research teams at Polish universities and research institutes,’ says NCN Director Prof. Zbigniew Błocki.

Under the Polish Returns 2020 – COVID-19 edition, NAWA finances projects that will last between 3 and 4 years with a maximum amount of PLN 2,270,000 per project if the project does not involve the so called research component. Otherwise, i.e. if the project does include the so called research component, the maximum amount of the grant is PLN 2,220,000 from NAWA’s resources and PLN 200,000 from NCN’s resources.

The objective of the Polish Returns programme is to enable Polish scientists to return to their home country and take up employment at Polish higher education institutions, scientific units or research institutes. The programme offers the returning scientists optimal conditions to carry out world-class research or developmental work in Poland. The funds obtained under the Polish Returns programme cover the salary of the returning scientist and the costs of establishing a project group (research team). Thanks to the programme, Polish universities and scientific institutions gain experts with international experience and expertise in the area of the newest research trends.

So far, NAWA has launched three editions of the Polish Returns programme (the evaluation of the applications in the third edition is currently in progress). 40 scientists have launched or will launch their research projects at Polish universities and institutes in the years 2018–2020 under the Polish Returns programme. These researchers have returned from among others American, British, French, Danish, Spanish, German, Austrian, Swiss, Japanese, Singaporean and South Korean academic and research institutions. They do research among others in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Kraków, Poznań, Wrocław and Szczecin.

Applications under the Polish Returns 2020 – COVID-19 edition may be submitted by universities and other scientific institutions that are planning to employ a returning scientist.

Applications under the programme can be submitted from 15 July 2020 until 31 August 2020. They may be submitted solely through NAWA’s electronic application submission system.

Projects under the Polish Returns 2020 – COVID-19 edition have to begin: no earlier than on 1 January 2021 and no later than on 30 September 2021.

Please kindly note that we are closely monitoring the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and limitations it poses on international travel. If the implementation of projects is not possible within the planned deadlines, we will adjust the schedule to the existing situation, taking into account the safety of NAWA beneficiaries and citizens of our country.


The announcement of the call for applications as well as other documents can be found HERE (Polish language)


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A press conference at the NAWA on the occasion of the announcement of the "Polish Returns 2020. Edition COVID-19" programme. In the photo from left: Dr. Grażyna Żebrowska, Director General of NAWA; Prof. Wojciech Maksymowicz, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education; Artur Drobniak, Deputy Secretary of the Supreme Medical Council.

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