An insider look at the MIT European Career Fair

16th edition of the European Career Fair (ECF): what about the attractiveness of Europe for Scientists ?

Your favorite team of the Office of Science & Technology was at the MIT European Career Fair day on Saturday, January 21st, at the French Embassy booth. The MIT ECF is the biggest event of its kind, gathering more than 100 companies, research organisations and universities from all over Europe, and attracting 4 000+ job seekers. This forum is usually a good indicator to evaluate how attractive is Europe for scientists and students working in the United States. It’s also a perfect moment for some European countries to showcase their strengths and try to attract bright new foreign minds !

This year, the Fair was preceded by a day-wide conference called “Destination Europe : Your Research and Innovation Opportunities“, that was held in Cambridge. This colloquium was organized by the European Commission and the European Research Council, in collaboration with several EU states and the Strategic Forum for International Cooperation. Yes, Europe didn’t came unarmed !

The European Commissioner for Innovation & Research, at the French Embassy booth

The objective of this conference was to increase awareness of these opportunities and to promote Europe as a powerfull destination for scientists and science-related professionals. More than 250 researchers, opinion leaders and representative from leading US universities and from the scientific diplomacy community, as well as media reporters attended the event. To highlight Europe’s strengths, prominent scientists shared their extensive experience. Tim Hunt was one of them. This British Biochemist has received  nothing less than a Nobel Prize of Medicine / Physiology, rewarding his discovery of Cyclins ? Two other stories caught our attention. They tell the experience of 2 scholarship winners* of a grant provided by the ERC, who belong to third counties, got trained in Europe as part of a PhD and then moved to the US, before returning to France, to receive a very prestigious grant. They are the perfect example of how strong collaborations between Europe and the U.S can help the advancement of Science.

The highlight of the meeting was the intervention of Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research and Innovation who came to speak about the ambitions of “Horizon 2020” (the European program for research and innovation) and foster cross-pond collaborations between the U.S. and Europe.

Let’s talk a little about the ECF day. Walk-ins plummeted in comparison to the 2010 edition, as about 2 000 people flocked around the 118 companies and institutions waiting to inform them. WIth 12 booths, France was the third largest exhibitor (tied with Switzerland), Germany leading the pack with an impressive delegation, followed by the Netherlands, which is a surprise. On the French side, the CNRS, INRIA, INSERM, the Curie Institute and 7 firms were present (Constellation, Orange, Saint-Gobain, Sanofi, Thales, Total and Areva)

115 people came to the French Embassy booth, mostly inquiring about opportunities for French scientists to go back to France. Foreign people were more interested by internship opportunities and immigration laws.

The German delegation was very impressive, gathering nothing less than 54 institutions and companies, gaining the highest visibility without a doubt. German institutions rely on the ECF to hire young and bright teachers and researchers, and they certainly did that well this year, with powerful representatives. Let’s hope that next year, France may bring a greater task force, to gain more visibility and compete with our German neighbors.

*Dr. Aziz Moqrich (CNRS, Institute of Developmental Biology in Marseille) and Dr. J. Aksam Merched (Research Director of the Health and Biosciences Department, University of Bordeaux 2).

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