Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Postdoctoral Fellowships


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Organization:
European Commission
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Description:

Horizon Europe is the ninth European Research and Innovation Framework programme (2021-2027). In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is one of the key instruments of the European Union's efforts to steer and accelerate Europe's recovery, preparedness and resilience. In the context of a new European Research Area for research and innovation, it aims to strengthen Europe's knowledge base through frontier research, spur breakthrough innovation and support the development and demonstration of innovative solutions, and help restore industrial leadership and open strategic autonomy.

The first Horizon Europe Strategic Plan (2021-2024) which sets out key strategic orientations for the support of research and innovation, was adopted on 15 March 2021.

Activity under Horizon Europe is primarily organised under three 'pillars':

  • Pillar I - Excellent Science
  • Pillar II - Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness
  • Pillar III - Innovative Europe

Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) are part of Pillar I - Excellent Science, which is designed to reinforce and extend the European Union's excellent science base. The MSCA is the EU's flagship programme to support scientific excellence and cooperation across countries, sectors and research fields. It aims to encourage more young people to pursue a career in research, promote Europe's attractiveness for leading global talent, retain its own researchers, and reintegrate those working elsewhere.

MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships will be provided to excellent researchers undertaking international mobility either to or between EU Member States or Horizon Europe Associated Countries, as well as to non-associated Third Countries. Applications will be made jointly by the researcher and a beneficiary in the academic or non-academic sector.

Postdoctoral Fellowships can either take place in Europe (ie in an EU Member State or a Horizon Europe Associated Country) or in a Third Country not associated to Horizon Europe:

  • European Postdoctoral Fellowships are open to researchers of any nationality who wish to engage in R&I projects by either coming to Europe from any country in the world or moving within Europe. The standard duration of these fellowships must be between 12 and 24 months.
  • Global Postdoctoral Fellowships are open to either nationals or long-term residents of EU Member States or Associated Countries who wish to engage in R&I projects with organisations outside EU Member States and Associated Countries. These fellowships require an outgoing phase of minimum 12 and maximum 24 months in a non-associated Third Country, and a mandatory 12-month return phase to a host organisation based in an EU Member State or a Horizon Europe Associated Country.

Both types of fellowships may also include short-term secondments anywhere in the world during the fellowship (except during the return phase of a Global Fellowship). In an effort to build bridges between the academic and non-academic sector, researchers can receive additional support to carry out a placement of up to six months in a non-academic organisation based in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country. This placement needs to take place at the end of their fellowship.

All disciplines are eligible for Postdoctoral Fellowships. Specific eligibility conditions apply to MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships in the research areas covered by the Euratom Research and Training Programme 2021-2025.

The following additional criteria apply:

Secondments

Researchers receiving a Postdoctoral Fellowship may opt to include a secondment phase, within the overall duration of their fellowship in any country worldwide. The secondment phase can be a single period or be divided into shorter mobility periods.

For European Postdoctoral Fellowships, secondments cannot exceed one third of the standard fellowship duration and should be in line with the project objectives, adding significant value and impact to the fellowship.

For Global Postdoctoral Fellowships, optional secondments are permitted for up to one third of the outgoing phase. A maximum of three months can be spent at the start of the project at the beneficiary (or any other organisation mentioned in the description of the action), allowing the researcher to spend time there before going to the associated partner in the Third Country. Secondments cannot take place during the mandatory twelve-month return period to the host organisation in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country.

Placements in the non-academic sector

Postdoctoral Fellowships can provide an additional period of up to six months to support researchers seeking a placement at the end of the project to work on R&I projects in an organisation from the non-academic sector established in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country. While this possibility is also available to fellows recruited in the non-academic sector, such a placement must be implemented at a different non-academic host organisation established in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country. The request for such a placement must be an integral part of the proposal, explaining the added-value for the project and for the career development of the researcher, and will be subject to evaluation. It must be substantiated by a letter of commitment from the European non-academic organisation where the placement takes place. This incentive aims at promoting career moves between sectors and organisations and thereby stimulate innovation and knowledge transfer while expanding career opportunities for researchers.

Training activities

The training activities implemented under the Postdoctoral Fellowships should include training for key transferable skills, foster innovation and entrepreneurship, (eg commercialisation of results, Intellectual Property Rights, communication, public engagement and citizen science) and promote Open Science practices (open access to publications and to research data, FAIR data management, etc).

Career Development Plan

In order to equip MSCA postdoctoral fellows with skills that enhance and expand their career opportunities inside and outside academia, a Career Development Plan should be established jointly by the supervisor(s) and the researcher. In addition to research objectives, this plan should comprise the researcher's training and career needs, including training on transferable skills, teaching, planning for publications and participation in conferences and events aiming at opening science and research to citizens. The Plan will have to be submitted as a project deliverable at the beginning of the action and can be updated when needed.

Euratom

Aiming to enhance nuclear expertise and excellence as well as synergies between Programmes, organisations active in nuclear research established in one of EU Member States or countries associated to the Euratom Research and Training programme 2021-2025 , are eligible to participate. MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships in this area of research will be supported by the Euratom Research and Training Programme 2021-2025 through an indicative annual financial contribution of €1 million to the MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships call.

ERA Fellowships

The ERA Fellowships implemented through Work Programme Annex 11, Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area, provide specific support to researchers to undertake their fellowship in a widening country. This will help spread excellence and contribute to fostering balanced brain circulation in widening countries.

Requirements

MSCA are open to all domains of research and innovation. Any type of organisation can apply for Horizon Europe funding as long as they have the operational and financial capacity to carry out the tasks they propose.

The following participants are eligible for funding:

  • Any legal entity established in a Member State or associated country, or created under Union law.
  • Any international European interest organisation.
  • Any legal entity established in a third country identified in the work programme.

Interested researchers submit an application together with a host organisation, which can be a university, research institution, business, SME or other organisation based in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country. The beneficiary receiving EU funding needs to recruit the researcher for the total period of the fellowship.

Researchers interested in PFs:

  • Should have a PhD degree at the time of the deadline for applications. Applicants who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis but who have not yet formally been awarded the doctoral degree will also be considered eligible to apply.
  • Must have a maximum of eight years experience in research, from the date of the award of their PhD degree, years of experience outside research and career breaks will not count towards the above maximum, nor will years of experience in research in third countries, for nationals or long-term residents of EU Member States or Horizon Europe Associated Countries who wish to reintegrate to Europe.
  • Should comply with mobility rules: they must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc) in the country of the beneficiary (for European Postdoctoral Fellowships), or the host organisation for the outgoing phase (for Global Postdoctoral Fellowships) for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before the call deadline.

The scheme is also open to researchers wishing to reintegrate in Europe, those who are displaced by conflict, as well as researchers with high potential who are seeking to restart their careers in research.

For Postdoctoral Fellowships in research areas covered by the Euratom Research and Training Programme, researchers need to be nationals or long-term residents of an EU Member State or a Euratom Associated Country. The beneficiary organisation recruiting the researcher also needs to be established in an EU Member State or Euratom Associated Country.

Association to Horizon Europe is the closest form of cooperation with non-EU countries, which allows entities of associated countries to participate in programme actions on equal terms with entities of EU countries. It is offered not only to EU neighbouring countries, but also to any country in the world with a strong research and innovation capacity that share common values.

There are four categories of countries eligible for association with the programme:

  • Members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA).
  • Acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates.
  • European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries.
  • Other third countries and territories that fulfil a set of criteria related to their economic, political and research and innovation systems.

For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

A full list of countries associated to Horizon Europe is available at the European Commission website.

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