MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Met


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Horizon 2020: It’s official – first two projects cross the finish (or should that be starting?) line!

congratulationsAll at the Blog would like to congratulate Prof Bruce Edmonds , Director of the Centre for Policy Modelling (CPM), in the Faculty of Business and Law. He and his team will start work on two Horizon 2020 projects in the New Year. The projects will involve Bruce collaborating with a range of partners across Europe and are MMU’s first official successes of the Horizon 2020 Programme (Ed – we are in discussions on a number of other projects, but we can’t speak about these just yet!).

The first project, DiDIY, will explore the new socio-technological phenomenon of digital do it yourself (DiDIY). It will look at how access to affordable digital creation (e.g. 3D printing of unique-by-design objects or networked smart objects) and open innovation are changing the way in which society operates and the impact that this will have on work, education and research and beyond. The CPM has a key role in integrating the various ideas and evidence that comes out of this project, partly using illustrative social simulations. The project will be led by Universita Carlo Cattaneo Liuc in Italy and will involve partners in Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and UK.

The second project, SAF21, is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network, which will help to embed social scientists of the future into EU fisheries management systems. It will train experts in analysis of human social behaviour within a variety of PhD project, looking to better understand the inter-locking complexity of self-organisation, ecology and legal structures in fisheries. It has the ultimate aim of ‘injecting’ those with social science understanding into the fisheries sector and hence to facilitate a more effective and sensitive management of them. The CPM will host two project looking at (a) the role of social norms and inter-organizational trust between fishers and regulators and (b) how visualisation techniques might be used to present the results from complex models in a public context (such as a museum). The project will be led by the Arctic University of Norway and brings together universities, museums, companies and representative organisations from the fishing sector.

Once again, many congratulations to Bruce, and fingers crossed for those of you involved in discussions with the Commission or waiting to hear the outcome of your applications!


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Focus on Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (Part 3) – Innovative Training Networks

MSCA_SuitcaseThe third part of our series looking at the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCAs) focuses on Innovative Training Networks (ITNs).

ITNs provide support for  joint training or doctoral programmes for Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) – individuals without a PhD and less than four years of full-time research experience. There are three main strands: European Training Networks (ETN), European Industrial Doctorates (EID) and European Joint Doctorates (EJD).

Who is eligible to apply?

Eligibility varies between the different strands, but all have a focus on making sure that ESRs have a meaningful experience of the non-academic sector. This means that you will typically be looking at partnerships of academic and non-academic organisations. In the case of ETNs and EJDs, the partnership needs to involve organisations in a minimum of three Member States (MS) or Associated Countries (AC). In the case of EIDs this is reduced to organisations in a minimum of two different MSs or ACs. 

ESRs are selected through an open recruitment process once the proposal has been awarded funding. As described in the start of the post there are restrictions about who qualifies as an ESR in terms of experience. There are also requirements relating to mobility. There is an expectation that the ESR won’t have spent more than 12 out of the previous 36 months working or studying in the country where they will be based.

How does the application process work?

The application for all the strands is made by the core partnership.

They propose an outline of the training programme including the number of ESRs they are requesting, the individual projects that will be undertaken by ESRs, details of any secondments, the support that ESRs will receive and also any joint networking or research activities. Where there is joint recruitment and selection (EID and EJD), the process for this is also described.

Applications are reviewed by subject specific panels, with the partnership choosing which panel should review their proposal. 

What will the funding pay for?

The money pays for a (generous) personal package for the Early Stage Researchers along with a budget for research, training and networking activities. There is also a contribution to management and indirect costs. 

How long do projects last?

A typical project lasts for 48 months, although it is possible to apply for a shorter duration. 

When is the next deadline?

We expect the next deadline to be  15 January 2015, with details of the call becoming available online from 2 September 2014.

How can I use Innovative Training Networks?

Innovative Training Networks are a good way to boost your research group through the addition of one or more PhD students, giving you extra research capacity. They are valuable in moving your research area forward, providing you with the scope to research from multiple angles, bringing a multi-disciplinary and European perspective and generating research outputs such as publications.

Where can I find more information? 

In addition to the call for proposals available on the European Commission’s Participants Portal, it’s worth keeping an eye on information coming through from UK Research Office who are the UK’s National Contact Point for this area of Horizon 2020. In particular look out for information sessions later in the year.  

We are also planning an autumn visit from our European Adviser at UKRO (Ian Devine) who will lead sessions here at MMU looking at the MSCAs and will talk specifically about Innovative Training Networks.

Coming soon – in Part 4 of the series we focus on Research and Innovation Staff Exchange


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Focus on Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (Part 1) – MSCAs in brief

MSCA_SuitcaseAfter a bit of an absence from Europe, the Blog is launching a series of articles over the coming weeks focusing on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCAs).

Some of you may have heard of the MSCAs, but for those of you who haven’t heard or need a reminder, here’s a quick overview to ease you into things.

What are they all about?

 The Actions are funded as part of Horizon 2020. They focus on career development for researchers and exchange of people and ideas between sectors and countries. You can think about them as providing an opportunity to learn through mobility. All Actions are open to any discipline and there are no pre-defined research priorities or questions.

What activities do they support?

 The MSCAs support a range of activities for individuals and partnerships including three Actions, which might be of particular interest:

Individual Fellowships (IF)support mobility (travel) of researchers with a doctorate or equivalent experience. Individuals can apply to undertake a programme of research within Europe or the wider world, but must travel from their current location to take advantage.

Innovative Training Networks (ITN)support joint training or doctoral schemes focusing on Early Stage Researchers (Ed. – these are researchers without a PhD and limited research experience). Networks typically involve partnership across different countries and sectors.

Research and Innovation Staff Exchanges (RISE)support staff exchanges and sharing of knowledge and best practice through collaborative programmes of research. Exchanges can take place between different sectors or between organisations based in Europe and outside Europe.  

The Actions provide funding for salaries, costs of relocation and costs of research activities (ITN and IF), the cost of exchange between different organisations (all) and contributions towards joint research activities and management (all). 

Where can I find out more?

The Work Programme provides an overview of what’s planned for the next two years – current version is available here – and new information on deadlines and opportunities for 2016 will be available later in the year.

It’s also worth taking a look at the overview on the RKE intranet here (you’ll need to sign in to view), and  keeping an eye on information coming through from UK Research Office who are the UK’s National Contact Point for this area of Horizon 2020.  

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at some of the Actions in more detail, so keep an eye on the Blog. We are also planning an autumn visit from our European Adviser at UKRO (Ian Devine) who will lead sessions here at MMU looking at the MSCAs.

Coming soon – Part 2 of our series will feature a closer look at Individual Fellowships.