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Programme Description

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    The postdoctoral fellowships programme, Junior Leader “la Caixa” , is aimed at hiring excellent researchers—of any nationality—who wish to continue their research career in Spanish or Portuguese territory. . Sponsored by Obra Social ”la Caixa”, the objectives of this programme are to foster high-quality, innovative research in Spain and to support the best scientific talents by providing them with an attractive, competitive environment in which to conduct excellent research.

    The Junior Leader programme is divided into two different frames:

    • Postdoctorate Junior Leader – Incoming: 22 postdoctoral fellowships for researchers of all nationalities. They will be offered a three-year employment contract to conduct a research project at accredited centres with the Severo Ochoa or María de Maeztu distinction of excellence, Institutos de Investigación Sanitaria Carlos IIII and units evaluated as excellent and exceptional by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia of Portugal. For Spanish institutions, candidates must have resided in Spain less than 12 months in the last three years while for Portuguese institutions, candidates must have resided in Portugal less than 12 months in the last three years.

    • Postdoctorate Junior Leader – Retaining: 11 postdoctoral fellowships for researchers of all nationalities to carry out research at any university or research centre in Spain or Portugal. For Spanish institutions, candidates must have resided in Spain more than 12 months in the last three years while for Portuguese institutions, candidates must have resided in Portugal more than 12 months in the last three years.

    By means of a complementary training programme, these fellowships are intended to consolidate research skills and to foster an independent scientific career as an option for the future.

What we offer

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    Researchers in the Junior Leader “la Caixa” programme will have a three-year contract in accordance with employment legislation in force in Spain, pursuant to provisions regarding occupational health and safety and social security, with access to suitable resources, equipment and facilities.


    Research fellows will have a development plan for scientific careers in keeping with the project to be carried out and suited to their interests and perspectives.

    Researchers must draw up scientific/technical reports in which they should specify their main achievements and future goals, aside from ethical issues that may arise.


    In addition to the economical amount, the Junior Leader programme includes an interdisciplinary training programme that focuses on aspects such as innovation and leadership. This programme has been specially designed by leading international companies in the sector: Oxentia, the technology transfer consultant at Oxford University Innovation Ltd. and. Vitae, a leading British organization in harnessing the potential of researchers by transforming their professional development.

    Three classroom-based sessions will be held: at the start of the fellowship, during the second year, and during the third year. Each session will last between 2 and 5 days, and attendance is required for all research fellows from the same call, regardless of their discipline. ”la Caixa” Foundation will cover all costs for these sessions, as well as the research fellows’ accommodation costs.


    Both the research centres and ”la Caixa” Foundation will offer Junior Leader fellows research stays in academia and industry, in order to complement their research career with practical and intersectoral experience, which will enable them to increase their transversal skills. Fellows may choose among a selection of local and international collaborating institutions.


    Each fellow may choose to have a mentor from the "la Caixa” Fellows’ Association assigned to them, depending on their academic discipline or area of research interest.


    Junior Leader fellows will participate in some of the different initiatives launched by the "la Caixa” Fellow’s Association for the public dissemination of science throughout society. To get more information about these initiatives, please click on Science and Society.


    These are activities such as scientific conferences and events organised by research centres that will help researchers establish contacts, build new relationships and initiate cooperation with the sector and academic circles, as well as enhance their professional opportunities as independent researchers, aside from social activities sponsored by the "la Caixa” Fellows’ Association.

Develop your scientific career in Spain and Portugal

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    ”la Caixa” Foundation, which firmly believes that scientific progress, research, mobility and professional qualification are key to the development of people in society as a whole, supports researchers who wish to advance their careers towards scientific independence. The ”la Caixa” Fellowships Programme is the most important one among those sponsored by private entities working within the area of activity of “la Caixa” Banking Foundation, in terms of both the number of fellowships offered and the rigour in the management of the selection process, the variety of disciplines and the payment amount for each fellowship.

    Within this framework, the “la Caixa” Junior Leader Fellowship Programme will contribute towards internationalising the research system by attracting international talent through the Incoming subprogramme. Likewise, it will retain talent through the Retaining subprogramme.

    Furthermore, Spain and Portugal participate in the Euraxess initiative, which provides support for researchers and their families upon their arrival to our country. The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) is the national coordinator for this initiative and brings together approximately 100 local support services and centres for researchers coming from outside Spain.

    In addition, every two years, the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) publishes a comprehensive guide for foreign researchers with current information on the job market, everyday life and specific characteristics of Spain, as well as on the required procedures to settle in our country.


Ethical principles

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    Research conducted within the framework of the Junior Leader “la Caixa” programme must comply with the ethical principles of the EU and national and international legislation applicable in this field, as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Applications that may raise ethical issues will be sent to the Ethics Committee to check that the proposals do not go against fundamental ethical principles or relevant safety procedures.


    Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a principle promoted by the European Commission and integrated into the Horizon 2020 programme to reconsider the role of science and innovation in society. "la Caixa” Foundation promotes this concept through its participation in European projects aimed at disseminating RRI, such as the case of RRI Tools or to implement RRI in different contexts— HEIRRI for higher education institutions and COMPASS for the industry. The interdisciplinary training programme that “la Caixa” Foundation offers Junior Leader researchers will focus on, among other things, topics about how to align research with the values and needs of society, paying particular attention to integrity in research or the benefits of a professional commitment to the public and industry in the world of research.


    Open Science is a priority for Horizon 2020 to open up all stages of the research life cycle. It reflects the current evolution of the way of researching and organising science, wherein the use of new tools and workflows for transparency, reproducibility, dissemination and transfer of knowledge are promoted. It encompasses concepts such as open access to scientific publications and research data, use of new scientific systems and big data, promotion of citizen science and the new ethical aspects of research. These concepts are part of the training programme for Junior Leader fellows, which will enable them to gain knowledge and skills to implement the new way of researching and organising science, helping them position themselves at the forefront of a new generation of researchers.

    In line with European initiatives, "la Caixa” Foundation will ensure that the results of research (co-)funded by them are published as open access whenever possible and as soon as possible, whether in institutional repositories of the universities or research centres hosting Junior Leader fellows or in thematic repositories of the relevant disciplines.  Better dissemination of these results will make research accessible, readable and replicable, at the same time avoiding duplication of efforts and improving opportunities for multidisciplinary, inter-institutional and intersectoral research.