SPARKLE – Training Europe’s future photonics research leaders – is an innovative intersectoral training, career development and mobility training programme. It is co-funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme (EU) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).
- Open Call
- Current Fellows
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Sparkle will train 27 fellows with combined skills in scientific excellence, product develop and manufacturing, in order to equip them to compete at the highest international levels and will ensure that Ireland and Europe remains of the forefront in photonics technology development and exploitation. This includes rapidly emerging disruptive technologies and market opportunities, for example AR/VR that needs higher resolution and energy efficient displays, autonomous vehicles that require photonics sensors to ‘see’, guided surgical instruments that utilise light to identify cancerous versus non-cancerous tissue, all part of an industry that is growing twice as fast as the global GDP and expected to reach $780.4 billion by 2023.
Each fellow will have a comprehensive training plan, tailored to the career path they wish to pursue. For individuals interested in an academic career, their training will include the identification and submission to funding opportunities to enable them initiate their own research programme upon completion of the fellowship. For fellows focussed on a career in industry, their training will focus on translational skills, such as fabrication and commercialisation, and they will be introduced to IPIC’s wide network of industry partners to explore those that best match their ambitions.
Sparkle aims to:
• Strengthen and raise the excellence and impact of Europe’s photonics research and manufacturing activities.
• Address the expanding skills shortage in the field of photonics across Europe, specifically at experienced researcher level.
• Drive the advancement of the Athena Swan Charter, good practice in recruitment, promote equality, diversity and inclusion in STEM, and increase female participation levels.
• Provide an opportunity for industry to shape the training programme and support Ireland and Europe’s growing photonics SMEs by providing them with highly skilled trainees.
Sparkle is hosted by the Irish Photonics Integration Centre (IPIC), and is open to experienced researchers of any nationality, resident anywhere in the world, seeking a prestigious career development path in the field of photonics research and innovation. Fellows will be based at one of IPIC’s academic partners and will be aligned to one of the IPIC Research Areas.
Sparkle will provide fellows with:
• An advanced training programme in a cutting-edge research environment.
• An expanded set of translational skills, including prototype development and fabrication, commercialisation, communication and dissemination, leadership, grantsmanship, project and time management.
• Enhanced innovative and entrepreneurial awareness skills through training on subjects such as market awareness, technology transfer, entrepreneurship and industry engagement.
• A career-oriented 6 month industry placement with either a global technology leader or rapidly growing SME.
• Participation in IPIC’s comprehensive and diverse Education and Public Engagement (EPE) programme, to develop and apply dissemination skills with different audiences from students to the general public.
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) is a core principle for IPIC and Sparkle and is integrated into all elements of the programme, including a transparent, fair, objective and gender-balanced evaluation and selection process.
The Sparkle Project Coordinator is Dr Patrick Morrissey and the Programme Manager will be announced shortly. There are 17 academic supervisors who are the IPIC Principal Investigators, listed here along with their research profiles.
The team is supported by IPIC’s host academic institutions where Fellows will be located, namely Tyndall National Institute, Cork Institute of Technology, Dublin City University, National University of Ireland Galway and University College Cork.
In addition Sparkle has a comprehensive management structure that includes a Supervisory Board responsible for monitoring of the progress of the research and training programmes and the fellows, and a Steering Committee that oversees the execution of the programme, its progress against the objectives and KPIs.
In addition to the development of research skills, Sparkle has a structured training programme that is open to all Fellows to participate in, and each will have their own Personalised Career Development Plan tailored to their career ambitions. This will be prepared in partnership with the Programme Manager and Academic supervisor before Fellows start.
The key elements of the training programme include:
- An advanced training course – Fellows to complete one of the following courses, Compound Semiconductor Device Fabrication, Photonics Packaging, Biophotonics Summer School or the IPIC BootCamp (a commercialisation training programme).
- SPARKLE Autumn School – A 3 day event focused on preparing Fellows for their future career in either industry or academia and on the development of their communications and public engagement skills.
- IPIC Industry Workshop – An annual event that brings together 150 IPIC researchers (Principal Investigators, Postdoc and PhDs) and industry partner representatives to learn about recent developments and to network with the community (including the opportunity to explore future employment opportunities with the industry partners). Fellows will be invited to present their work in poster format.
- IPIC Seminar Series – Eminent academic and industry scientists are invited from across the world to present their work.
- Education & Public Engagement Training – Fellows will be invited to participate in IPIC’s comprehensive EPE training programmes, from public speaking to materials development.
Fellows also have the opportunity to participant in the associated sports and social club activities.
There is an Open Call that runs continuously from Dec 2019 to the end of Feb 2022. In this period there are five regular cut-off dates, April 2020, Oct 2020, April 2021, Oct 2021 and Feb 2022. At these cut-off dates, received applications will be reviewed. Those wishing to apply should do so at any time during the Open Call through the Sparkle online application system.
An Information Pack is available for download below. This includes all the details of the programme such as the conditions of the fellowship, eligibility criteria, overview of the evaluation procedures, the recruitment process, the number of available positions in each round and the career development prospects that the programme will provide. Other documents can also be found below, including the Register Interest Form, Application Form and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Potential candidates are recommended to download and read all material before completing the first step, the submission of Register Interest Form and subsequently an Application Form which will be assessed through the process detailed in the Figure here. The Programme Manager is available to address any questions and is contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Application Cut-Off Date is 30 April 2020.
Details of current fellows will be provided once the first awards are made.
If you require further details or points of clarification please contact the Sparkle Programme Manager, who is running a support helpdesk for all applicants and fellows throughout the programme, via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. The helpdesk will support information such as:
• The application
• Eligibility criteria
• Submission procedure
• Suitability of a proposed Research Project
• Programme terms and conditions