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The purpose of the MSCA IF

The purpose of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship (MSCA IF) scheme is to support researchers’ career path through mobility, while attracting talented researchers to the EU. The MSCA IF grant is aimed at enhancing the creative and innovative potential of experienced researchers (ERs) wishing to diversify their individual competence in terms of skill acquisition through advanced training, international and intersectoral mobility. Continue reading to learn more about the MSCA IF.

The basic facts of the MSCA IF

Let’s begin with a quick overview of the MSCA IF funding scheme: 

  • MSCA IF is an Individual post-doctoral fellowship.
  • The eligibility criteria are as follows:
    • PhD diploma or >4 years equivalence of research experience.
    • Mobility rule: Relocation to another country, as long as the ER did not reside there for more than a year in the 3 years prior to the call deadline.
  • The scheme supports bottom up research. This means all scientific disciplines and research topics are welcome.
  • 100% funding rate (based on fixed amounts).
  • The expected proposal length: is maximum 10 pages, plus CV and annexes.

The types of MSCA IF

There are two types of MSCA IF funding schemes available: 

  1. European Fellowship (EF): Mobility from any country to an EU MS (European Member State) /AC (European Associated Country), or within the EU, for a 12-24 months fellowship.
  2. Global Fellowship (GF): Mobility from an EU MS/AC to any country for a 12-24 months fellowship + a return phase of 12 months in the EU.

Evaluation panels and review process

The evaluation process of MSCA-IF applications begins with an eligibility check. The next step is forwarding the application to three individual experts for remote evaluation, followed by a joint discussion and ranking. When complete, the results and evaluation summary report (ESR) are sent to the applicants, generally about 5 months after the deadline.

The evaluation is based on the following criteria:

  • excellence 50%
  • impact 30%
  • implementation 20%

There are 8 dedicated evaluation panels based on scientific discipline. Additional dedicated evaluation panels exist for Career Restart (EF-CAR), Reintegration (EF-RI) and Society and Enterprise (EF-SE).

Achieving a highly competitive MSCA IF proposal

With the above information at hand, the next  important topic to discuss is how to achieve a competitive MSCA IF grant application that meets the requirements and expectations of the funding scheme. To do so, consider the following aspects:

  • Address all MSCA pillars of success:
    • Mobility: Essential for personal and career development
    • Refer to the multidisciplinary nature of the project (if applicable)
    • Integrate training through Research planned activities
    • Include an outlined career Development Plan
  • Pay special attention to the expected impact of the project, at an individual  and organisational level
  • Added value features:
    • If applicable – include a secondment/s, preferably in the non-academic sector, and especially in relevant SMEs (Small and Medium sized Companies), to gain practical & applied experience and tools from the industry.
    • If applicable – include public engagement and communication activities for stakeholders
  • General writing tips:
    • Understand the grant’s expectations and the reviewers’ point of view
    • Directly address MSCA aspects by using its terminology (‘training through research’, ‘knowledge transfer’, etc.).
    • Address potential weak points and how you plan to mitigate them
    • Add a broader dimension: contribution to EU scientific excellence and innovation competitiveness, long term societal impacts etc.
    • Mind the technical instructions.

Conclusion

The MSCA IF is a competitive grant. While this article is an introductory to the MSCA IF scheme, we recommend to deepen your familiarity and understanding on this grant requirements should you choose to submit a competitive proposal. If you have any questions, or would like us to assist you with your IF application, do not hesitate to contact us.