The European Commission has announced today, 29 January 2018, the awarding of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships to 1 348 highly talented researchers to create a game-changing impact on our society and economy. The funding, part of the EU's Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation, is worth €248.7 million in total, an increase of €30 million as compared to the previous call, and will give the scientists' careers a real kick-start.
The Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said:
"We are today recognising the potential of 1 348 excellent, internationally mobile researchers who faced intense international competition to be awarded with a fellowship. The projects they will work on will help tackle some of the biggest challenges our societies face, helping to build a resilient, fair, competitive Europe. "
This is the second Individual Fellowships call for proposals with a specific Society and Enterprise panel, dedicating €10 million to fellowships in companies or other organisations outside of academia. As a result, 58 highly-skilled postdoctoral researchers will spend two years in public bodies, non-governmental organisations, or firms. The fellows will significantly increase both their own expertise and the innovation capacity of their employers.
In addition, 78 Individual Fellowships were awarded to researchers who are returning to work in Europe after a period spent elsewhere in the world and 46 after a career break. Another 137 are Global Fellowships for researchers based in Europe, who wish to gain new skills and experience elsewhere in the world. They will return to spend the final year of their Global Fellowship applying their knowledge back in Europe.
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie action (MSCA) on Individual Fellowships enables experienced researchers to undertake their own research project at an organisation of their choice in another country. They are open to anyone with either a doctoral degree or at least four years of full time research experience. Researchers of any field, nationality or age can apply for this opportunity to advance their career.
The new fellows will work on a wide range of topics, such as new approaches to anti-corruption policy, consequences of global warming on the future of marine phytoplankton, empowering marginalized convicted women through social enterprises, developing the next generation of supercomputers, elucidating the neural networks underlying emotion processing, novel methods for improved virus inactivation, and many more. The funded research covers all disciplines: Social Sciences, Humanities, Economic Sciences, Life Sciences (including Biomedical Sciences), Chemistry, Information Science, Engineering, Environment, Geosciences, Mathematics, and Physics.
Over 9 000 project proposals submitted
The 2017 call for proposals for Individual Fellowships sparked huge interest, receiving more applications than ever before. A total of 9 089 proposals were submitted in response to this call, the highest of any single call in Horizon 2020. The high scores awarded to several thousands of applications show that the scheme attracts the most brilliant researchers from Europe and other parts of the world.
The programme is very competitive, due to the large number of outstanding submissions. Even high scores do not guarantee MSCA funding. All Individual Fellowship proposals with a score of 85% or above but that cannot be funded will receive a Seal of Excellence. Applicants who have just missed out on an MSCA grant can use the Seal of Excellence to approach other funders at national or regional level. Introducing the Seal of Excellence further strengthens the MSCA as a benchmark for how nations and regions can keep, attract and develop the best research talent. The approach is based on other parts of Horizon 2020 that also award a Seal of Excellence.
Join the Individual Fellowships
MSCA Individual Fellowships aim at enhancing the creative and innovative potential of experienced researchers, wishing to diversify their individual competence in terms of skill acquisition through advanced training, international and intersectoral mobility. Individual Fellowships provide opportunities to researchers of any nationality to acquire and transfer new knowledge and to work on research and innovation in Europe and beyond. 95% of grantees have employment positions two years after the end of their fellowship.
The scheme particularly supports the return and (re)integration of European researchers from outside Europe and those who have previously worked here, as well as researchers displaced by conflict outside the EU and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries. It also promotes the career restart of individual researchers who show great potential. There are two main types of Individual Fellowship. European Fellowships last from one to two years and are held in EU Member States or Horizon 2020 Associated Countries. Global Fellowships enable researchers based in these countries to spend up to two years elsewhere in the world, followed by a mandatory year back in Europe. The budget earmarked for the 2018 MSCA Individual Fellowships call amounts to €273 million, and will further increase to €295 million in 2019 and €325 million in 2020.
For more information on projects to be funded as part of the 2017 call for Individual Fellowships, please see the project examples.