The Marie Curie Alumni Portal is offering free membership services to anyone who has won Marie Curie funding; and with over 50, 000 researchers who have been funded through this scheme, it is bound to be a hive of activity! The portal currently offers a number of membership services such as:
- an automated alert about new Marie Curie calls for proposals or meeting;
- a discussion board to promote the exchange of knowledge between alumni on areas of expertise, career opportunities or events and conferences;
- an events calendar with important meetings and events of interest to alumni; and
- personalised alerts to news and content from the portal.
Following on from the launch of the Alumni portal, in 2012 a Marie Curie Alumni Association will be created which will merge with the existing Marie Curie Fellows Association.
If you have won Marie Curie funding, then please do register on this prital . And if you are thinking of applying in the future for a grant, then this shows what a great support network exists for Marie Curie Fellows, leading to future collaborations.
The Marie Curie scheme has had a significant increase in submissions over the last year. The Intra-Europe and International Outgoing Fellowship submissions were up 17% on last year and the International Incoming Fellowships had an 11% increase in submissions.
Don’t be put off applying next year however as the increase in application numbers may be offset by the higher budgets in forthcoming calls. The IEF budget is €15m higher than in 2010 and the IOF and IIF budgets €12m higher.
Evaluation summary reports for the 2011 proposals are expected at the end of November 2011, with final results due in December; I will post these on the blog when they are released.
Horizon 2020 will replace FP7 in 2014. Stakeholder workshops on the proposed ‘societal challenges’ of Horizon 2020 have been held, including one on Marie Curie Actions. The new structure will comprise of four strands:
- Initial Training of Researchers
- Career Development of Experienced Researchers
- Research and Innovation Staff Exchanges
- Co-funding of Regional, National and International Programmes.
The majority of participants welcomed the streamlining of the programme down to four actions, and supported the proposed extension of co-funding across the three other programmes. They also emphasised the importance of simplification and consistency of rules.
Three Marie Curie calls are currently open, and following our blogpost by Rudy Gozlan on how to successfully win a Marie Curie grant, we also wanted to highlight Prof Bogdan Gabrys (DEC) success through this scheme.
Bogdan is coordinating the INFER project involving 25 academics from organisations in three different countries. INFER stands for Computational Intelligence Platform for Evolving and Robust Predictive Systems and is a project funded by the European Commission within the Marie Curie Industry and Academia Partnerships & Pathways (IAPP) programme, with a runtime from July 2010 until June 2014.
Three EC Marie Curie calls are currently open and having successful won a whopping fourMarie Curie fellowship awards, BU’s Professor Rudy Gozlan (ApSci) shares the secret to success:
I secured my first Marie Curie fellow in 2003 and since have repeated it four times with the latest fellow programmed to join Bournemouth University in September 2011 (Polish researcher). What I have noticed in the last few years is a sharp increase in the number of applicants as a result of the level of competition. It is not good enough to have a very good candidate and a very good proposal, you will need to reach excellence in both the candidate and the proposal as only scores above 91% have a real chance of being funded. Having said that, if you secure a fellowship you are guaranteed success during the two years of the fellowship as these candidates need little supervision (they are the elite of Europe after all) and they provide an extremely effective vector for mentoring among your PhD student community. In addition, once they return home they often secure top positions which will help you building an effective network of collaborators for further EU research proposals. So, if you are planning to secure a MCF where do you start?
First, you need to find a successful candidate. They are many ways you could do this, through international conferences when you spot a good talk from a junior researcher, you can approach them and discuss whether they have considered doing a post-doc. Also, you can contact your colleagues in other EU institutions and ask whether they have a good PhD student near completion and offer to develop a collaborative Marie Curie Fellowship (MCF) application, including your colleague in the steering group. Colleagues always like the opportunity to be involved in research excellence and know they would then have a good case for recruiting their student after a two year MCF. However, recruiting the student is only the first step of the process; you now need to develop an excellent proposal. An excellent proposal is not only an excellent scientific case; all categories such as “Impact”, “Training” etc are extremely important. Over the years we have established a template which we improve from year to year (I can provide some of the successful applications if needed). You cannot afford to rushed a single criteria of the application as this will make the difference between being funded (>91%) and failing.
Finally, these proposals are extremely time consuming so it is not something you decide at the last minute. I generally approach my potential students in December (although I generally have a pretty good idea of who I want) and start drafting the proposal in March. I personally never let the candidates develop their own proposal as I often have a better understanding of what could be funded and what could not. It has, for example, to be within your expertise but it also needs to complement the candidates own expertise while still not being too far away from his/her existing area of research. The proposal needs to appear to provide the candidate with a new set of skills that will become relevant when (s)he returns home and help him/her secure a position. As such the proposal needs to clearly demonstrate how this MCF will bridge this skill gap. It is also important to secure a good supervisory team which will provide a guarantee of research quality and give confidence to the reviewers that the student will be in a leading research environment.
Finally, even if you were unsuccessful you shouldn’t ditch your proposal but rather resubmit it the following year with either a new candidate if the candidate received a poor mark (you need to be ruthless) or keep the candidate and carefully address the reviewers’ comments.
Finally, I will bid for another MCF this year with a Portuguese student so if you would like further tips get in touch, otherwise I wish you good luck.
There are currently three MCF calls open – read about them here. If you would like to discuss a possible submission to any of these calls, please contact Corrina Dickson in the Research Development Unit.
Thinking of applying for a Marie Curie grant? Then book a place from our GrantCraft Research Workshop Day Event Page to receive expert advice, tips and help from GrantCraft’s Dr Martin Pickard. The session forms part of a series of workshops that day (you can book on as many or as few as you like) and will be held on May 11th.
We are delighted to offer a bespoke GrantCraft Research Workshop Day on May 11th 2011, facilitated by Dr Martin Pickard, a specialist in writing and supporting research proposals (particularly EU). Sessions will be held on grant writing skills, impact and benefit, how to write a Marie Curie proposal and the management of EU projects. You can attend as many sessions as you like throughout the day. To read more on each session and to make a booking see our GrantCraft Research Workshop Day Event Page.