More researchers than ever before are applying for EU funding to start their career in Europe. Those who today, 27 January, have successfully obtained grants from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) are researchers with the highest potential to make a game-changing impact on our society and economy. The high scores awarded to thousands of applications show that the scheme attracts the most brilliant researchers from Europe and other parts of the world.

2016 call for post-doctoral researcher funding

The European Commission has announced today the results of the 2016 bid for post-doctoral researchers' funding from the MSCA, part of the EU Horizon 2020 programme. There will be nearly 1,200 grants for Individual Fellowships amounting to € 218.71 million in total. The 2016 call for proposals for Individual Fellowships sparked huge interest, receiving more applications than ever before. The figure of 8 946 proposals is the highest of any single call in Horizon 2020.

This is the first Individual Fellowships call for proposals with a specific Society and Enterprise panel, dedicating over € 8 million to fellowships in companies or other organisations outside of academia. As a result, almost 50 highly-skilled postdoctoral researchers will spend several 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, around 100 Individual Fellowships were awarded to researchers who are returning to work in Europe after a period spent elsewhere in the world, or after a career break. Another 115 or so 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.

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said:

"I am delighted that today we are recognising the potential of hundreds of excellent, internationally mobile researchers. The projects they will work on will help tackle the biggest challenges facing our societies. And the new Seal of Excellence further strengthens the most popular EU programme supporting researchers."

In November 2016, the MSCA celebrated 20 years of strengthening the human resources that drive research and innovation. Highly-trained researchers are necessary to advance science and business competitiveness, which are important for attracting and sustaining investment in Europe.

MSCA Individual Fellowships enable 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. 95% of grantees have employment positions two years after the end of their fellowship.


Individual fellowships

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.

With an overall budget of almost € 249 million, the 2017 call for proposals for Individual Fellowships should be published on 11 April 2017, with a deadline of 14 September 2017 (17:00 Brussels time). The submission forms and documentation will be published on the Horizon 2020 Participants' Portal.

For the first time, all Individual Fellowship proposals with a score of 85% or above but that cannot be funded will receive a Seal of Excellence. Even high scores do not guarantee MSCA funding. The programme is very competitive, due to the large number of outstanding submissions. 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..

Project examples

For more information on projects to be funded as part of the 2016 call for Individual Fellowships, consult this selection of project examples.