Croatia's Brightest Minds to Receive €4 Million in Funding from Switzerland

Four selected projects developed by young Croatian scientists will receive funding of 1 million euro each

Switzerland and Croatia teamed up to reduce emigration of talented scientists from EU's youngest member country, SWI reports on May 15, 2018.

A project worth €3.9 million (CHF4.7 million) was devised to encourage innovation in Croatia by providing young scientists with funds required to launch notable research programmes in their home country. Four selected Croatian scientists will receive close to 1 million euro each to set up a laboratory and employ a skilled team. The pilot programme is supposed to last four years, and if it sees results, the researchers will be given tenure. The selection process was set in motion in March.

The project was devised by the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education, the Croatian Science Foundation, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Head of International Affairs at EPFL Olivier Küttel remarked that Switzerland wants to encourage Croatian scientists who are working abroad to return to their home country. "We also want to give young researchers a real chance, responsibilities and future prospects in their own country so they will no longer need to go abroad in order to have a successful career", he added.

The initiative was first thought up some four years ago, shortly after Croatia became a member of the European Union. The original proposal, considerably broader in scope, had been submitted to the European Commission for funding, but ended up having to be scaled back. The final version of the project will be jointly funded by the two parties; Switzerland will cover a major part of the cost through the €900 million financial package contributed to the EU to help fight youth unemployment in Eastern European countries. Croatia will provide 15 percent of required funds and arrange research facilities.

According to Küttel, the measure is both meant to plug Croatia's brain drain and decrease immigration rates in Switzerland. If the project turns out to be a success, it might very well become a model for other European countries.