MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships 2022, the funding scheme for early-career researchers

MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships 2022, the funding scheme for early-career researchers

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Postdoctoral Fellowship programme supports postdoctoral researchers to develop their research careers with a total budget of €257 million. It provides fellowships to the most promising researchers, who wish to carry out their research activities abroad, by either coming to Europe from any country in the world, moving within Europe or even moving to Third Countries not associated to Horizon Europe.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) is the main European instrument supporting young women and men to make a career in research with the goal to retain excellent researchers within Europe and reintegrate those working elsewhere. Since their launch in 1996, they have become Europe’s reference programme for doctoral education and postdoctoral training. 

The MSCA PF programme that is part of the Excellent Science pillar of Horizon Europe aims to equip postdoctoral fellows with new transferable skills and international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral exposure via advanced training and mobility. The MSCA PF is based on the principle of physical mobility, meaning that researchers who receive funding have to move from one country to another. Researchers who wish to apply are also encouraged to move between sectors and disciplines.

The main objectives of a Postdoctoral fellowship are to:
• Enhance the research and transferable skills and competences of postdoctoral fellows, leading to their improved employability and career prospects
• Foster researchers’ international, inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary mobility
• Enhance networking and communication capacities with scientific peers, as well as with the general public to broaden the research and innovation impact
• Strengthen R&I capacity and output among participating organisations, by implementing original and innovative research projects
• Facilitate transfer of knowledge by building bridges between the academic and non-academic sector  

What’s new this year?
This year MSCA place a stronger emphasis on collaborations between academia and business. There’s also a renewed emphasis on effective supervision and career guidance to postdoctoral fellows according to the  MSCA Guidelines on Supervision. Applicants are also encouraged to address the principles of the MSCA Green Charter, in line with the European Green Deal, and implement measures to promote sustainable research activities and minimise the environmental footprint of such activities.
Another novelty in MSCA PF in Horizon Europe compared to Horizon 2020 is that areas of research covered by the Euratom Research and Training Programme, specifically nuclear research and innovation, are now included in the range of topics supported by the MSCA, including Chemistry, Social Sciences and Humanities, Economic Sciences, Information Science and Engineering, Environment and Geosciences, Life Sciences, Mathematics and Physics. 

When and how to apply?
The 2022 call is now open for submissions through the Funding and Tenders Portal, with a deadline on 14 September 2022. Although, the project proposal should be written jointly by the postdoctoral candidate and the host organisation, only the Host Supervisor is allowed to submit the proposal. The EU average success rate for the 2021 call was 13-14%. 

Host organisations are encouraged to read the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Guidelines for the Inclusion of Researchers at Risk comprising researchers experiencing threats to their life, liberty or research career, and those who are forced to flee or have been displaced. Following Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, the new MSCA4Ukraine scheme includes €25 million for actions supporting researchers previously active in Ukraine. 

Who can apply?
You can apply for an MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship if you:
• are interested in engaging in research and innovation projects at a host organisation abroad (otherwise known as Beneficiary) that can be a university, research institution, business, SME or other organisation based in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country.
• hold 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. 
• have a maximum of eight years of experience in research, from the date of the award of your PhD degree. Years of experience outside research and career breaks do not count towards this maximum, nor do 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.
• have not resided or carried out your 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.

There are two types of Postdoctoral Fellowships:
1. European Postdoctoral Fellowships (overall budget: €218.45) are open to researchers of any nationality moving to or between EU Member States or Horizon Europe Associated Countries. These fellowships can last between 1 and 2 years. 
2. Global Postdoctoral Fellowships (overall budget: €38.55) are open to researchers, who are national or long-term residents of EU Member States or Horizon Europe Associated Countries and wish to carry out their research activities outside Europe. These fellowships can last between 2 to 3 years, of which the first 1 to 2 years will be spent in a non-associated Third Country, followed by a mandatory return phase of 1 year to an organisation based in Europe. 

Both types of fellowships may also include short-term secondments anywhere in the world within the overall duration of the fellowship, as well as a placement of up to six months in a non-academic organisation based in Europe at the end of their research project for which researchers receive additional support. 

What does the postdoctoral fellowship cover?
• a living allowance
• a mobility allowance
• family, long-term leave and special needs allowances, if applicable
• research, training and networking activities
• management and indirect costs

Evaluation process
Submitted proposals will be evaluated between October and December 2022 against three evaluation criteria, including Excellence (50% of the evaluation score), Impact (30%) and Implementation (20%). Applications with a total score equal to or higher than 85% receive a Seal of Excellence, which adds weight to the researchers’ applications when they seek to apply to other EU Funding Calls. The evaluation results will be published by February/March 2023 and projects are expected to start around May-September 2023.

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Publication Date: 19/07/2022