The future needs the best researchers

Programme Description

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    The Postdoctoral Junior Leader fellowships programme is aimed at hiring excellent researchers, of any nationality, who wish to continue their research career in Spain or Portugal in the STEM area (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The objectives of this programme are to foster high-quality, innovative research in Spain and Portugal and to support the best scientific talent by providing them with an attractive, competitive environment in which to conduct excellent research.

    The Postdoctoral Junior Leader fellowships programme is divided into two different frames:

    • Postdoctorate Junior Leader – Incoming: 25 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 excellence award, Institutos de Investigación Sanitaria Carlos IIII and units evaluated as excellent 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: 15 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.

    As part of this complementary training, Junior Leader fellows have to pursue a mandatory secondment in a different institution to increase their transversal skills. These secondments, with a duration between 3 to 6 months, must be performed in an international or intersectorial institution.

What we offer

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    Researchers of the Postdoctoral Junior Leader fellowships programme will have a labor contract in accordance with employment legislation in force in Spain or Portugal, pursuant to provisions regarding occupational health and safety and social security, with access to suitable resources, equipment and facilities. Additionally, the fellowship includes mobility and family allowances.


    Research fellows will have to prepare 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 annual 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 postdoctoral Junior Leader fellowships 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.


    In order to complement their research career with practical and intersectoral experience, the fellows must pursue an international or intersectorial secondment with a duration between 3 and 6 months, in an institution freely proposed by the fellows themselves, which will enable them to increase their transversal skills.


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


    Junior Leader fellows will have the opportunity to participate in 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 visit the webpage of Culture and science.


    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” Foundation 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” Foundation Fellowships Programme is the most important one among those sponsored by private entities working within the area of activity of ”la Caixa” 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 Postdoctoral Junior Leader Fellowships 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.

    In addition, every two years, the 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.

    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.

    In Portugal, the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) coordinates at national level the Euraxess initiative, providing to the foreign researchers all the necessary info to settle in Portugal.


Ethical principles

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    Research conducted within the framework of the Postdoctoal the Junior Leader  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.


    ”la Caixa” Foundation works to promote excellence in research and innovation with a high transformative impact. The Foundation strives to disseminate the results of projects it funds and make them available as soon as possible to other researchers and the wider society. To this end it has adopted an open science policy towards the publications and data produced by the research.

    Open science is a movement which aims to make scientific research, results and data accessible to everyone. In terms of scientific publications, it means seeking to open access as soon as possible; for other results, such as data, it means they must be preserved in a way that makes them findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR Guiding Principles).

    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.

    There are many reasons for sharing research publications and results: efficiency, the reuse of data for new purposes, reproducibility, the verification of results, economic efficiency, avoiding the duplication of work and data, and increased impact, visibility and transparency.

    With this aim in mind, all beneficiaries of grants and ”la Caixa” Foundation fellowships are urged to share the results they obtain in the most open way and as quickly as possible, while preserving beneficiaries’ interest under the principle of “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”.

    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.

    In the event that human genotype/phenotype data are generated within the framework of the grant/scholarship, these must be deposited with priority in the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA) or in a similar archive.

    ”la Caixa” Foundation Research Results Management and Open Access policy is accesible to be checked at

  • This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 847648.