Tagged / Marie Curie

New Belgian Marie Curie Fellowships available

The Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) has launched the first call for its new funding programme for postdoctoral researchers: PEGASUS Marie Curie Fellowships. These fellowships are co-funded by the FP7 Marie Curie Programme. The goals of PEGASUS are:

  • to attract excellent postdoctoral researchers to Flanders in order to contribute to the advancement of Flemish science
  • to provide the selected fellows with optimal conditions to further develop their research career in Flanders or abroad

PEGASUS aims at incoming mobility and/or reintegration of researchers working abroad. Candidates have to hold a PhD and should not have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Belgium for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the start of the fellowship.

Within PEGASUS two options are possible:

  • Pegasus-long: Postdoctoral fellowships of 3 years at a Flemish university. The fellowship is renewable once in open competition with the regular FWO postdoctoral fellows. 30 Pegasus-long fellowships are available, to be granted in a single call.
  • Pegasus-short: Postdoctoral fellowships of 1 year at a Flemish university. The fellowship is not renewable, but candidates can apply afterwards in the open competition for a regular postdoctoral fellowship. This short fellowship is available under the form of an employment contract (standard option) or a stipend (exceptional cases).
  • More information on this programme and on the submission of proposals are available from the FWO Pegasus Programme Website

Phew – Marie Curie here to stay til 2020!

I am delighted to announce that Marie Curie Actions (which normally sit in the People Programme of FP7) looks like it is here to stay!

The goal of Marie Curie in Horizon 2020 is to ensure optimum development and dynamic use of Europe’s  intellectual capital in order to generate new skills and innovation and, thus, to realise its  full potential across all sectors and regions. The EC sees well-trained, dynamic and creative researchers as the vital raw material for the best science and the most productive research-based innovation.

THE EC feels that Europe hosts a large and diversified pool of skilled academics and l this needs to be constantly replenished, improved and adapted to the rapidly evolving needs of the labour market; particularly as a disproportionate number of researchers will hit retirement over the next few years and the research intensity of the EU economy is increasing.  

The goal is, by leveraging additional funds, to increase the numerical and structural impact of this scheme and to foster excellence at national level in researchers training, mobility and career development. Additional goals are to monitor progress, identify gaps and to increase their impact. Indicators shall be developed and data related to researchers‘ mobility, skills and careers analysed, seeking synergies and close coordination with the policy support actions on researchers, their employers and funders carried out under the ” Inclusive, innovative and secure societies” challenge.

The EC will target early career researchers – either doctoral or postdoc – and call for EU to develop state-of-the-art, innovative training schemes, consistent with the highly competitive and increasingly inter-disciplinary requirements of research and innovation. Strong involvement of businesses, including SMEs and other socio-economic actors, will be needed to equip researchers with the innovation skills demanded by the jobs of tomorrow. It will also be important to enhance the mobility of these researchers, as it currently remains at too modest a level: in 2008, only 7 % of European doctoral candidates were trained in another Member State, whereas the target is 20 % by 2030. Mid-career mobility will also be targeted not only between countries, but also between the public and private sectors as this creates a strong stimulus for learning and developing new skills and is a key factor in cooperation between academics, research centres and industry across countries.

Former Marie Curie schemes have fostered some excellent results and this will continue with future Marie Curie Actions which will encourage new, creative and innovative types of training such as industrial doctorates, involving education, research and innovation players who will have to compete globally for a reputation of excellence. By providing Union funding for the best research and training programmes following the Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training in Europe, they will also promote wider dissemination and take-up, moving towards more structured doctoral training. Marie Curie grants will also be extended to the temporary mobility of experienced researchers and engineers from public institutions to the private sector or vice versa, thereby encouraging and supporting universities, research centres and businesses to cooperate with one another on a European and international scale.

Funding will most likely be around the following 4 areas:

  1. Fostering new skills by means of excellent initial training of researchers: The goal is to train a new generation of creative and innovative researchers, able to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit in the Union. Key activities shall be to provide excellent and innovative training to early-stage researchers at post-graduate level via interdisciplinary projects or doctoral programmes involving universities, research institutions, businesses, SMEs and other socio-economic groups from different countries. This will improve career prospects for young post-graduate researchers in both the public and private sectors.
  2. Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility: The goal is to enhance the creative and innovative potential of experienced researchers at all career levels by creating opportunities for cross-border and cross-sector mobility. Key activities shall be to encourage experienced researchers to broaden or deepen their skills by means of mobility by opening attractive career opportunities in universities, research institutions, businesses, SMEs and other socio-economic groups all over Europe and beyond. Opportunities to restart a research career after a break shall also be supported.
  3. Stimulating innovation by means of cross-fertilisation of knowledge:  Key activities shall be to support short-term exchanges of research and innovation staff among a partnership of universities, research institutions, businesses, SMEs and other socio-economic groups, both within Europe and worldwide. This will include fostering cooperation with third countries.
  4. Increasing the structural impact by co-funding the activities:  Key activities shall be, with the aid of a co-funding mechanism, to encourage regional, national and international organisations to create new programmes and to open existing ones to international and intersectoral training, mobility and career development. This will increase the quality of research training in Europe at all career stages, including at doctoral level, will foster free circulation of researchers and scientific knowledge in Europe, will promote attractive research careers by offering open recruitment and attractive working conditions and will support research and innovation cooperation between universities, research institutions and enterprises and cooperation with third countries and international organisations.

Brand Spanking New Marie Curie Alumni Portal

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.


FP7 Marie Curie submissions on the up – but so is the budget!

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.

Marie Curie Actions: Report from Horizon 2020 Stakeholder Workshop

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.

Another Marie Curie success story

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.



Want to gain a Marie Curie Fellowship? Our 4-times winner shares his experience

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.

book your place on the BU GrantCraft Research Workshop Day!

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.