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HR Excellence in Research

On April, 2015, the Fundació Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron – Institut de Recerca (VHIR) was recognized with the accreditation 'HR Excellence in Research' of the European Commission (also known as “HRS4R”).

What is HRS4R ?

The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) supports research institutions and funding organisations in the implementation of the Charter for Researchers & The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers in their policies and practices. Its implementation will render institutions more attractive to researchers looking for a new destination.

HRS4R culminates in the recognition of human resources excellence in research “HR Excellence in Research Award” by the European Commission for institutions which make progress in aligning their human resources policies to the 40 principles of the Charter & Code, based on a customized action plan/HR strategy

HRS4R logo
Basic principles of the acceditation

This accreditation is based on the 'European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (Charter & Code)' and obtaining the seal of HR Excellence in Research ensures that VHIR integrates into its management 40 basic principles that relate to HR, applied to the research environment: Research freedom, gender equality or professional attitude.

To integrate these principles, VHIR has carried out an internal evaluation process and developed a specific Action Plan, which is regularly reviewed and updated.

Charter and Code endorsement letter

Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment Policy

The VHIR is committed to an Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment (OTM-R)  for researchers.

The VHIR Recruitment Policy aims to lay down all the procedures and criteria established in accordance to an Open, Transparent and Merit-based recruitment of the VHIR’s staff. This is not only a priority for the European Research Area (ERA), but also key to comply with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and in particular of the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. This policy also takes into account the current legislation in terms of employment, equality and diversity, and data protection. In order to achieve a good work-life balance, the research institute implements several policies towards this goal that also attempt to create a diverse, inclusive and equal-opportunity environment.


Check out the Recruitment Policy
HRS4R-action-plan 2021-2024
2021 - 2024: New Action Plan

At the end of 2020, VHIR submitted the request for the HRS4R seal renewal accompanied by an Internal Review report. Once validated by the European Commission (EC), VHIR started preparing for the site-visit evaluation, the last step of the Seal Renewal process. During the first semester of 2021, the final Action Plan for the next 3 years was completed. It has been created as part of the process of developing the new VHIR Strategic Plan 2021-2024.

This Action Plan aims to continue to include more actions that have a direct impact on our researchers and all VHIR’s personnel. For this reason, we collected feedback from research and administrative staff during 2 Focus Group sessions, gathered responses from 101 workers through a survey, and comments from the Workers’ Representative Committee.

HRS4R logo
Seal renewal

On October 7th, 2021 the site-visit evaluation took place. This evaluation was carried out virtually and was divided into a series of sessions, including conversations among VHIR’s Directorate, Administrative Structure, Research staff, and the 3 EC Evaluators. After the evaluation, we received confirmation that VHIR has renewed the HRS4R Seal for the next 3 years.

Furthermore, based on the feedback from the EC Evaluators, the Action Plan was reviewed again and updated.

comitè hrs4r
HRS4R Committee

The review and follow-up of the Action Plan are monitored by a Committee. This Committee consists of both research, administration and research support staff that meet periodically to monitor its implementation.

Meet the members of the committee

Previous years

2020 Action Plan and new actions

As in previous years, in 2020 the HR Directorate has revised the Action Plan to update its content.  The Action Plan, strengthens the aspects that have been worked on and that were agreed upon with the participants of the focus groups, and puts the focus on the development of an institutional communication campaign. Details of the content of the new actions can be found here.

2018 and 2019 - Midterm actions

After receiving the feedback from the European Commission on the self-assessment process carried out in 2017, during the years 2018-2019, several actions were carried out to integrate the recommendations received.


  • Designing a communication campaign.
  • Annual review of the Action Plan (the HR Department reviews its content annually to detect new improvement actions).
  • Develop an institutional strategy for RRI, in close relation with the principles of "HR Excellence in Research".

2017 - Self assesment - Improved Action Plan

In 2017, the process of self-assessment planned by the European Commission took place (according to which each organization carries out self-assessment within the 24 months following the obtention of the HR Excellence in Research Award to assess compliance with the Action Plan and draft an updated plan).

To carry out the self-assessment process, new focal, inclusive and peer groups (researchers and support staff) were organized. As a result of this self-assessment (interim analysis), a new Action Plan 2017-2020 was defined.

The main changes compared to the previous Action Plan are:

  • Extension of the implementation period until 2020.
  • Redefinition of some objectives (such as “Develop a VHIR Code for Best Practices in Research, promote dissemination and compliance”).
  • Provide an international “friendly” institutional environment: a new 100% English-language Welcome Process.
  • Definition of the communication campaign.
  • New mentoring system.

2016 - Strategic Plan

In 2016, through a participatory process, VHIR defined its new strategic plan 2016-2020. According to such plan, VHIR’s mission, vision and values are:

  • Mission: We are a public sector institution that promotes and develops the research, innovation and biosanitary teaching of the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital. Through the excellence of our research, we identify and apply new solutions to the health problems of society and we contribute to spread them around the world.
  • Vision. We want that VHIR, the Research Institute of Vall d’Hebron Hospital, will be recognised in 2020 as a leading, excellent and competitive European Institute linked to a university hospital in clinical and translational research.
  • Values.
    • Commitment and Ethics. VHIR is an institution that is committed to our patients and professionals with the goal of extrapolating local solutions globally. We do so with integrity, ethical and social responsibility, sustainability, equal opportunities and transparency.
    • Innovation and Creativity. We work at the vanguard of knowledge. Our research should be disruptive, based on curiosity and imagination, and it should emerge from health problems. We create, innovative and transfer knowledge from our research to society.
    • Strictness. We are strict with ourselves every day in order to achieve the highest quality levels possible through self-criticism, dedication and perseverance.
    • Efficiency. We rise to the challenges of our day-to-day jobs with rigor, flexibility and effectiveness.

The plan integrates the principles of HRS4R, promoting strategies for attracting and retaining talent and considering training as strategic for VHIR. A map of the strategic processes can be consulted at the following link.

2014-2015 First HRS4R Action Plan

In 2014, the internal gap analysis and action plan were developed in a transparent and open process involving focus groups with representatives from all research professional categories and staff. 

The work schedule that was followed was:

  • April - May 2014: Weekly meetings of the first working group: project set up, accreditation and gap analysis, information compilation.
  • 8th-10th July 2014: Administrative staff focus group.
  • August 2014: VHIR formally endorsed the Charter and Code principles.
  • 8th-10th September 2014: Technical, pre and post-staff focus group.
  • 15th-17th September 2014: Tenure track focus group.
  • 29th September 2014 and 1st October 2014: Senior researchers' focus group.
  • October 2014: Final working group with representatives.

Based on the work of the focus groups, a first Action Plan was defined, the strengths of which were:

  • Include the HRS4R vision within the new strategic plan and future VHIR regulations.
  • Definition and documentation of an improved Recruitment and selection procedure according to HRS4R.
  • Develop a comprehensive Staff Welcome package providing user-friendly information tailored for each professional category.

The Action Plan was approved by the VHIR Board of Trustees on December 4, 2014 and was subsequently submitted to the European Commission in February 2015, obtaining the logo in April 2015.