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GeoPolicy: How can geoscientists make the most of the Horizon 2020 programme?

GeoPolicy: How can geoscientists make the most of the Horizon 2020 programme?

As a geoscientist, I’m sure that you have heard of Horizon 2020, an EU programme that is allocating almost €80 billion to research and innovation over 7 years (from 2014 to 2020). This money is distributed throughout various scientific divisions and provides a plethora of opportunities for scientists, not only within the EU but also throughout the world.

Unfortunately, the magnitude of the Horizon 2020 programme has resulted in all the potential opportunities and openings offered to scientists, research institutes and innovators being difficult to navigate.

Luckily for you, this blog will outline some of the most relevant Horizon 2020 geoscience opportunities so that you don’t have to spend hours trying to map out the many existing options!

Horizon 2020: a summary

The Horizon 2020 programme follows the seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), which ran from 2007 until 2013 with a budget of just over €50 billion. Research framework programmes were initially established by the EU to coordinate national research, pool research funding, increase knowledge sharing and reduce duplication.

Horizon 2020 aims to generate world-class science and technology to drive economic growth within the EU and be bigger, simpler and smarter than previous programmes. It consists of three primary research and innovation pillars:

In addition to these three pillars, there are two horizontal and three smaller programmes. These pillars and programmes are depicted in the figure below.

 

Horizon 2020 Structure. Credit: http://cerneu.web.cern.ch/horizon2020/structure

 

Each pillar and programme offers funding and opportunities that you may be able to access depending on the focus of your research. This blog will focus on Excellent Science as this is believed to be the most relevant pillar to the geoscience community.

Excellent Science

As you can see in the figure above, the Excellent Science Pillar has four primary components, all of which offer opportunities to researchers.

  1. European Research Council’s frontier research encourages high-risk, high-reward proposals in an attempt to generate revolutionary science and innovation by providing a number of different grants, including:

 

    • ERC Starting Grants: support talented early-career scientists (with 2 – 7 years of experience) who have already shown potential as a research leader
    • ERC Consolidator grants: fund researchers with 7 – 12 years of experience who would like to consolidate their independence or who would like to strengthen a recently established, independent research team
    • ERC Advanced Grants: empower individual researchers who have already established themselves as independent research leaders
    • Proof of Concept Grants: are secondary sources of funding for researchers who have already received an ERC grant for the frontier research project and now want to explore the commercial or societal potential of their work

2. Future and emerging technologies supports the following collaborative research initiatives that aim to extend Europe’s capacity for advanced innovation:

    • FET Open: funds projects that focus on new technologies and that are in the early stages of development
    • FET Proactive: seeks to establish a critical mass of European researchers on emerging, exploratory themes and ultimately build-up a new interdisciplinary research community
    • FET Flagships: fund 10-year initiatives that involve hundreds of European researchers who focus on solving an ambitious scientific and technological challenge e.g. developing uses for new materials such as Graphene

3. Marie-Sklodowska-Curie individual fellowships provide innovative research training, attractive career options and knowledge-exchange opportunities to scientists across all disciplines. Key opportunities within this fellowship that may appeal to geoscientists include:

    • Innovative Training Networks (ITN): provide up to four years of funding for a joint doctoral-level research training programme that is implemented by at least three partners from in and outside academia
    • European Researchers’ Night (NIGHT): is a Europe-wide public event dedicated to the sharing of science and engaging the public. The next NIGHT will take place on the 29thof December 2017 in over 300 EU cities. Find a NIGHT near you!

For information about science-policy fellowships and training opportunities you can also visit last month’s GeoPolicy blog on science-policy placements.

4. Research infrastructure (including e-infrastructures) aims to further European research infrastructure for 2020 and beyond. The primary geoscience related outcome of this Excellent Science component is:

As well as the opportunities within the Excellent Science pillar of the Horizon 2020 programme, there are numerous overarching initiatives, tenders and training courses which may be of interest to some geoscientists

  • Researchers are able to join the Horizon 2020 Database by creating a profile outlining their relevant fields and experience. Once registered, researchers may be called upon to provide expert advice and contribute to various projects, evaluations and policy designs
  • Scientists can also play a more active role by submitting a proposal through the Horizon 2020’s Call for Proposals. These calls are continually updated and require a collaborative approach with at least 3 organisations from different EU Member States or associated countries. Various EU partner search services are available for researchers who want to contribute to a project but who are lacking collaborators
  • The Horizon 2020 programme runs innovation competitions. These competitions revolve around prominent societal problems and offer cash prizes to whoever can find the most effective solution or best meet the defined challenge
  • Research institutes within widening countries may find the Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation scheme particularly beneficial. Primarily focused on Eastern Europe, it has several initiates that aim to ensure the equal division of innovation and subsequent social and economic benefits across the EU

Despite offering so many opportunities to researchers, the Horizon 2020 programme is not without criticism. Like almost all funding programmes, it is highly competitive.

The proposals submitted during the first 100 Calls for Proposals within the Horizon 2020 programme only had a 14% success rate. While not a surprising percentage, it is approximately 6% lower than the overall proposal submission rate success for the previous research Framework Programme (FP7). The grant and proposal style of funding has also been said to fuel the propagation of casual academic contracts. These casual contracts often result in high competition for positions and increased pressure on researchers due to the continuous tendering and application process.

The Horizon 2020 programme has released an Interim Evaluation Report which despite not mentioning the proliferation of casual contracts, did acknowledge the need for additional funding, intensified international cooperation and greater data accessibility. The Interim Report also highlighted the Horizon 2020’s successes including increased efficiency compared with its FP7 predecessor, scientific breakthroughs, the generation of economic growth within the EU and the strengthening of research infrastructure.

Research and innovation funding post 2020 is yet to be secured but potential for continued growth within the sector was discussed during the Research & Innovation – Shaping our Future conference and in the Investing in the European Future We Want publication.

For further information regarding the Horizon 2020 programme and other EU funding instruments, you can email the Research Enquiry Service or Horizon 2020 National Contact Points.

References 

Academia is now incompatible with family life, thanks to casual contracts: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2016/dec/02/short-term-contracts-university-academia-family

European research funding: it’s like Robin Hood in reversehttps://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2014/nov/07/european-research-funding-horizon-2020

Horizon 2020 statistics: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/horizon-2020-statistics

Science and Innovation Strategic Policy Plans for the 2020s (EU, AU, UK): Will They Prepare Us for the World in 2050?: http://redfame.com/journal/index.php/aef/article/viewFile/909/851

GeoPolicy: Have your say on Horizon 2020

GeoPolicy: Have your say on Horizon 2020

The European Union provides almost 75 billion euros of funding through the Horizon 2020 scheme. This money can fund research projects, studentships, post-doctorates and scientific outreach (to name but a few!). The EU is now calling for feedback and comments about the scheme. This month’s GeoPolicy explains how you can have your say.

 

Are you a PhD student funded by European Research Council (ERC) or have you received grants from the ERC? If so, this money will have come from the Horizon 2020 (H2020) scheme, funded by the European Union (EU).

Essentially, H2020 provides financial support to scientists and businesses wishing to establish projects that overlap with the EU’s policy objectives (promoting excellent science that benefits society). H2020 was introduced in more detail in a previous GeoPolicy post entitled ‘An overview of EU funding for the Earth, atmosphere, and space sciences’. The scheme runs from 2014 to 2020. Now, at this halfway stage, the EU requesting feedback through an online survey.

The objective of the consultation is to collect information from a wide audience on different aspects of the implementation of the Joint Undertakings operating under Horizon 2020.

The survey is open to all and feedback will be used to improve the second half of H2020 and to support discussions currently being conducted on the next EU funding project: FP9 (Framing Programme 9, 2021-2030).

Contributions are particularly sought from researchers, industry, entrepreneurs, innovators and all types of organisations that have participated in Horizon 2020 and in calls for proposals published by the Joint Undertakings in particular.

So, if you have been part of the H2020 process then consider completing the survey. Deadline for complete is the 10th March 2017.

LINK TO SURVEY

 

NB: Applying for ERC research grants is done through the EU Participant Portal. More details about the process can be found here.

GeoPolicy: An overview of EU funding for the Earth, atmosphere, and space sciences

GeoPolicy: An overview of EU funding for the Earth, atmosphere, and space sciences

Are you thinking of applying for funding? Or are you considering a career in academia and want to know where your research funding could come from? The European Union (EU) has large financial resources available for academic scientific research and innovation (R&I). This is in addition to national government funding bodies. This blog post, the 5th in the EGU’s GeoPolicy series, introduces R&I funding policies in the EU, and lists the major funds available for EGU scientists.

The EU aims to ensure EU scientific research is at the forefront of knowledge discovery. EU member states are encouraged to invest 3% of their GDP by 2020 to provide funding for R&I. Its goals are to tackle the ‘challenges of our time’ (food security, energy demand, climate change, an aging population etc.) and to boost European economy through a single European Research Area [1].

The EU has a variety of interlinked programmes which offer funding for R&I. These are available to public and private sector organisations and total a staggering 130 billion euros. Funding for academics is primarily available through the Horizon 2020 (H2020) programme, although some other initiatives, which are sector focused, are also open to researchers. The figure below shows all EU R&I funding opportunities, and the amount each programme has to spend (in million euros).

 

 

H2020 is by far the largest available funding resource for EGU academics. Some specific areas of EGU science have additional funding sources available. These include:

  • Space: There are two programmes which offer funding for space related activities (in addition to H2020). The Galileo initiative aims to improve global satellite navigation, with the intention of launching over 300 satellites around Earth by 2020. Funding is available for R&I into the development of ‘fundamental elements of the satellite system’ i.e. electrical components. The Copernicus programme provides ‘accurate and reliable information and data in the field of environment and security’ using both satellites and in-situ equipment. Funding is available for the development of Earth observation techniques.
  • Agriculture & forestry: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development provides grants for those performing research and innovation activities in the fields of agriculture, food production, and forestry.
  • Research networks: The European Social Fund can be used for ‘the training of researchers and to support networking between research institutions’.

As a side note the EU also indirectly provides funding for students through the Erasmus+ scheme to relocate ‘in the pursuit of education and training opportunities’. [2]

H2020

H2020 offers funding for successful applications that meet some of their policy objectives. There is little under 75 billion euros available for R&I. The H2020 subsections which are relevant to EGU scientists are listed below:

How to apply

The video below gives a basic introduction to applying for H2020 funding. [3]

Funding for research grants (i.e. from the ERC or a Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant) is done through the Participant Portal. This is where scientists can submit a research proposal of their own design. Alternatively, funding for specific projects, proposed by the EU, can be applied for through the Calls for Proposals webpages. Calls are uploaded to this website throughout the running of H2020 (2014-2020) so it is worth regularly checking for recently postings. [4]

The application process involves submitted proposals to be evaluated by academic and industrial experts, rather than European Commission employees. More information about the application process can be found here. Academics who wish to apply as a registered expert to review research proposals can find more information here.

Edit: The Marie Curie Alumni Association website lists 10 direct links where european research funding can be found.

Sources used for this blog post

[1] – http://europa.eu/pol/rd/

[2] – http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2015/568327/EPRS_BRI(2015)568327_EN.pdf

[3] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmN0NccQCD0

[4] – http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/home.html

 

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