The European Commission has put out a call for proposals under the Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES), introduced earlier this year to consolidate research partnerships through staff exchanges and networking activities among research organisations within and outside Europe.

The call is one of many issued by the Commission for proposals in 32 research areas, all vying for total funds of around 1.75 billion euros to be allocated in 2008 under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7). There is a strong emphasis on international scientific collaboration in these initiatives, with all fields of research open to partnerships that include countries outside the European Research Area.

The IRSES scheme, one of the Marie Curie Actions taken under the FP7’s 4.75 billion euros ‘People’ programme and aimed at boosting researchers’ transnational and intersectoral mobility, training and career development, has a budget of 25 million euros for 2008 and will support staff exchanges of up to 12 months per staff member. It is open to all fields of research and to staff from research organisations in all of the 29 countries that are either part of the European Neighbourhood Policy or have a Science and Technology Agreement with the EU.

The hope is that exchanges of this kind will help to expand international participation in the Seventh Framework Programme. “At the end of the day, science is all about the people who carry it out on a daily basis, and devote their lives to its advancement,” said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Poto_nik. “As we are seeking to enhance the international dimension of our Framework Programme, creating links between research organisations around the world is a very good starting point.”

Further details about the call for IRSES proposals may be found on the Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) website at http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/dc/index.cfm.