MSCA - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Last changed: 29 May 2020
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Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions (MSCA) is a funding instrument within the EU framework programme dedicated to support mobility, training, career development and knowledge-exchange for researchers and research staff. Within the MSCA program, there are funding opportunities for innovative networks of PhD students, individual fellowships for researchers with a PhD, short-term exchange schemes for research and innovation staff, as well as funds for spreading knowledge and engaging the public in the Europe-wide public event “European Researcher’s Night”.

MSCA is open to all research fields and welcomes applicants to freely propose actions in a bottom-up manner. A common theme, however, is that MSCA Actions relies on the principle of mobility, granting funding on the condition that researchers move from one country to another for acquiring new knowledge and develop their research career. Most MSCA calls are highly competitive and require high standards, both regarding the excellence of the research, as well as the quality and impact of the proposed training or knowledge-sharing activities.

The European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (Charter and Code) is a cornerstone of all MSCA actions, promoting open recruitment and attractive working and employment conditions. In addition, MSCA pay particular attention to equal opportunities, which includes gender balance and the inclusion of researchers with disabilities.

TYPES OF FUNDING

MSCA funding is open to researchers and research staff at all career stages and welcomes applications from organisations in both the academic and the non-academic sectors, including universities, research institutions, research infrastructures, businesses, civil society organisations and other socio-economic actors from all countries.

MSCA funds research and training through the following funding types;

i) Innovative Training Networks (MSCA-ITN)
Joint research training doctoral programmes that focus on a common scientific question/challenge and simultaneously work towards educating a new generation of creative and innovative young researchers. ITN:s can be applied for by networks with complementary skills, preferably including partners from several different sectors, both to pave the way for excellent research, as well as to maximise knowledge exchange and networking. MSCA-ITN is open to all research areas and can include partners from universities, research institutes, research infrastructures, companies, SMEs and other stakeholders from different countries across Europe and beyond. Normally, an ITN grant includes salaries and training costs for up to 15 doctoral students (so-called “Early-stage researchers, ESRs) for three years, as well as funds covering some of the associated research and management costs. Within H2020, there are three types of ITN;

  • European Training Networks (ETN) – for networks with partners in at least three EU or associated countries.
  • European Industrial Doctorates (EID) – for networks involving at least one academic partner and one partner from the business-sector, in at least two different EU or associated countries.
  • European Joint Doctorates (EJD) – for networks with a minimum of three academic partners, in three different EU or associated countries.

ii) MSCA Individual Fellowships (MSCA-IF)
Individual fellowships supporting the mobility of researchers within and beyond Europe, as well as helping to attract the best foreign researchers to work in the EU. MSCA-IF is open to experienced researchers (ERs) from across the world, working in any field of research, who wish to acquire new knowledge and training in a foreign country. Besides providing an allowance covering living, travel and family costs for the ER, an IF contributes funding to the training, networking and research costs of the fellow, as well as to the management and indirect costs associated with the project. MSCA-IF:s are awarded in two main categories;

  • European Fellowships – One to two years funding for researchers of any nationality, who wishes to conduct their postdoctoral training in Europe. In this category, there are also special opportunities for researchers to return to Europe after a spending a longer period in another continent, as well as researchers who wish to return to research after a longer break.
  • Global Fellowships – One to two years funding for researchers based in EU or an associated country, for conducting research outside Europe, with the condition that the researcher has to come back to an organisation based in the EU or an associated country for one year.

iii) Research and Innovative Staff Exchange (MSCA-RISE)
RISE supports short-term mobility of research and innovation staff working in academic, industrial and commercial organisations across the world. The programme is open to staff at all career stages, also including administrative and technical staff. The aim of RISE is to support people in developing their knowledge, skills and career, while simultaneously building links between organisations, sectors and countries. RISE actions are open to networks of at least three partners from three different countries (of which at least two must be an EU or associated country) and can be used to fund secondments lasting between 1-12 months for participating research and innovation staff of any nationality and career level.

iv) Co-funding of Regional, National and International programmes (MSCA-COFUND)
MSCA-COFUND provides co-funding to already existing or new research mobility and career development programmes that focus on training researchers abroad and across different sectors. MSCA-COFUND is open to regional, national, and international programmes and can be used for funding of doctoral programmes as well as fellowship programmes for experienced researchers. Co-funding via MSCA is available for single applicants, who may receive up to €10 million during five years.

v) European Researcher’s Night (MSCA-NIGHT)
NIGHT provides funding for the organization of events that promote research and channel its impact to improve citizens’ daily lives, ultimately aiming to also to motivate young people to embark on research careers. NIGHT is open to any legal entity established in an EU or associated country and may be used to cover any expenses linked to the organization of a research outreach event, such as an awareness campaign, pre-events, the event itself, and the assessment of its impact.

CO-FUNDING

MSCA actions are always associated with some level of co-funding, primarily because funding is in the form of unit costs. Unit costs are fixed amounts and apply to all categories of eligible costs. They are measured by the number of months, which are implemented by the eligible researchers in the action. The unit costs are determined ex-ante in the MSCA Work Programme and cannot be modified and for Sweden the level of the costs is too low to allow a full cost coverage. In addition, in ITN-projects co-funding is associated with the costs of covering the fourth year for PhD students and the overshooting indirect costs for MSCA-IF fellows.

HOW TO APPLY

All calls for MSCA Actions are announced on the European Commission’s Funding and Tenders portal, at least four months before the deadline. You can find detailed information about for the scope of each funding type in the biannual MSCA Work programme. Via the funding portal you can also download a comprehensive “Guide for applicants” and templates for the application, which in detail outline how you should structure your application.

All MSCA proposals are evaluated based on three criteria, which are given different weights in the final scoring of the application (in brackets);

  1. Excellence (50%)
  2. Impact (30%)
  3. Quality of implementation (20%)

It is important to consider that each of these criteria will take both the quality of the research and the training into account.

SUPPORT WITH YOUR APPLICATION

If you are curious about MSCA or plan to write an application, you are welcome to contact Grants Office for advice. Depending on our workload, you may also be able to get hands-on support in the application process. Contact any of us directly, or send an e-mail to grantsoffice@slu.se.

Page editor: lars-erik.lindell@slu.se