Czexpats in Science project supporting incoming Ukrainian scientists in Czechia

For the past two and a half years, we have supported Ukrainian scientists seeking safety in Czechia through the Czexpats for Ukraine project. As the project concludes, we are pleased to present a comprehensive final report of our efforts. This report also introduces the newly established Czech-Ukrainian Scientific Society.

Over the past two and half years, we have provided support to Ukrainian scientists who sought safety in Czechia. The Czexpats for Ukraine project originated from the immediate activity of our volunteer team following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Over time, the project has evolved from addressing individual needs such as job placement and basic necessities to establishing systematic support for Ukrainian scientists in Czechia. This project was possible thanks to the financial support of the Bakala Foundation. Throughout the project’s duration, we have leveraged our network of contacts and the expertise of the Czexpats in Science team to foster community building initiatives.

During the project, we were in contact with 166 Ukrainian scientists, assisting 45 of them successfully to secure employment. The majority of these placements were in the field of “Life Sciences”. As our efforts progressed, we established regular UA-CZ Science Meetups, hosted at the Bakala Foundation Student Hub. Additionally, we launched a Ukrainian Newsletter, providing updates on job openings, grants, language courses, psychological support, and other relevant news. Initially, there was also great interest in the Buddy Program, which allowed Ukrainian scientists to connect with a Czech colleague in a similar field. 

One of our project’s most significant achievements is the development of the Map of Scholars, a platform which aims to connect Ukrainian scientists abroad. This initiative was inspired by our Map of Scientists and came out of our consultations with the global network of Ukrainian scientists, Ukrainian Scientific Diaspora. Additionally, in collaboration with CZARMA (Czech Association for Research Managers and Administrators), we actively promoted the MSCA4Ukraine grant scheme for scientists displaced from Ukraine. Our efforts targeted both scientists seeking opportunities and host institutions in Czechia able to offer them. As a result of these endeavours, Czechia ranked second in terms of both the number of grant applications submitted and grants awarded, closely following Germany. In our Final Report, you can find interviews with some of the 18 successful MSCA4Ukraine fellows in Czechia, providing further insight into their experiences and achievements.

We are delighted that our regular UA-CZ Science Meetups have successfully brought together a dedicated group of Ukrainian scientists who have taken the initiative to further connect and support the Ukrainian scientific community in Czechia. Recently, they have established their own non-profit organisation, the Czech-Ukrainian Scientific Society (CZUSS). With CZUSS now at the helm, the project that we successfully started can continue in their capable hands. They have assumed responsibility for organising regular meetings, providing information about available positions and grants on their website, and facilitating discussions to address scientific and everyday concerns of Ukrainian scientists in Czechia. Furthermore, CZUSS collaborates closely with the well-established German-Ukrainian Academic Society, seeking guidance and inspiration to expand their activities. They aim to gradually initiate more Czech-Ukrainian projects, fostering collaboration between Ukrainian scientists in both Czechia and Ukraine. We are excited about this development and look forward to the continued success and growth of CZUSS under their dedicated leadership.

In our and others’ experience, we have seen that  providing immediate, acute support can often seem easier than sustaining long-term assistance. Therefore, we invite all of you to collaborate with members of the newly formed Czech-Ukrainian Scientific Society and to continue exploring ways to support Ukrainian scientists in their work within Czechia. For instance, Ukrainian scientists can facilitate connections with laboratories in Ukraine or brainstorm alternative forms of aid. Additional suggestions can be found in our Final Report. We believe that ongoing support of displaced Ukrainian researchers  may be even more important now than it was at the outset of conflict. It’s crucial to maintain momentum so that Ukrainian scientists and scholars have opportunities to rebuild science in Ukraine following the conflict’s conclusion. Therefore, please continue to inquire about the needs of Ukrainian scientists and scholars.

All our efforts, alongside those of the largest Czech universities and of the Czech Academy of Sciences, to support Ukrainian scientists in Czechia are detailed in the Final Report titled: Support of displaced scientists: Lessons learned from the Russian aggression in Ukraine, Project of Czexpats in Science and Bakala Foundation supporting incoming Ukrainian scientists to Czechia from April 2022 to June 2024. Additionally, the report includes an interview with the newly established Czech-Ukrainian Scientific Society and outlines potential future initiatives.