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A Re-energized IFS Is Ready for the New Year

Published: 2019-12-20

As we come to the end of 2019, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for everything you have done to make this year successful. In a few words, 2019 can be summarized as “in the face of significant challenges, we made significant progress”. I thank you for your continued commitment and for all that you do to deliver on our purpose – to support early career researchers to enhance their scientific capacity.

Nighisty Ghezae, DirectorNighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

While there is much work to do and there may be further challenges ahead, we end 2019 stronger and better able to perform our usual activities, along with the year-plus development of a new strategy for 2021-2030.  Some highlights of the year include:

  • 130 new grants were awarded, more than we planned.
  • 12 IFS grantees were awarded travel grants, an essential component in professional development through the knowledge and networking experiences that career-related travel offer.
  • 50 grantees were supported with their equipment purchases, with a total of 84 orders processed.
  • 27 supplementary grants were awarded to grantees to enable them to finish their work.
  • We coached, supported and followed up the 153 grantees of 2015 who were finishing their research.
  • In 2019, IFS increased its strategic efforts to collaborate with like-minded institutions, to be visible in different fora by co-organising and/or conducting scientific and training events and working closely with its alumni associations.

We continued throughout the year to review our current situation, looked at each area of our activities and determined what worked well, what could have been done better and what opportunities lie ahead. We looked internally at our strengths and weaknesses and examined the external factors to identify organisational opportunities and threats. We have tried to capture the essence of the many contributions made over the past year in a cohesive vision for the strategic direction of the organization through 2030. We implemented part of our new strategy while still working within the ongoing one; a two-month open call in October and November saw record high applications (2057) received by the deadline. While this demonstrates that there is demand for our new strategy, it also presents the challenge of securing enough funding to give as many grants as we would like.

Today, IFS is more equipped than ever to respond to the requirements of early career researchers. Our focus and strategy are clear: the 2021-2030 strategy sets out the case for better focusing of our resources on supporting promising early career scientists, who are fundamental to building science capacity in LLMICs, and essential to addressing both national and global challenges. Obviously, we are facing challenges that hinder us from fully supporting early career researchers; there are many issues weighing not only on us, but on many science capacity building organizations.

The New Year will bring its own mix of successes and challenges, but we know what we must do. Our job is to continue to focus on what we can control, mainly generating and disseminating scientific knowledge by early career LLMIC scientists, and enhancing their capacity to influence, lead, network, fundraise and put research into use. We need to manage our costs, re-build our brand, and do our part to keep IFS moving forward.

Thank you to our Board of Trustees, the members of the Scientific Advisory Committees and our funding and organizational partners. We take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your contributions and efforts throughout the year. We had our share of challenges and yet together we managed to achieve many milestones because of the commitment, loyalty and passionate dedication that you have for our work.

We also thank all the Secretariat staff for their effort in making the organization a successful one and bringing it to this position. We are really grateful for their painstaking effort.

We also welcome the 130 new IFS grantees to our family. We wish them great success in their work. Thanks are also due to IFS alumni, many of whom continue to support the mission of IFS.

I appreciate all of your great work this year; it is because of you, and because we know we can do so much more for our early career researchers than anyone else, that I have such great confidence in our future. Please enjoy some well deserved rest with family and friends during this holiday season, and let’s get right back to it in 2020.

With thanks 

Nighisty Ghezae



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