26 May 2020   |   News

With Europe under lockdown, EU announces €530M study abroad funding for 2,000 PhDs under Marie Skłodowska-Curie

Overseas training for early career researchers may have to move online if COVID-19 restrictions remain in place in the autumn


The European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellowship programme has announced the names of 147 Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) which have been awarded a total of 530 million to train early career researchers.

The initiative, involving 1,373 universities and industry partners, will fund research and training opportunities abroad for 2,000 PhD candidates.

With travel prospects in Europe dim for the rest of year, some of the projects may be forced to move online if movement restrictions and lockdowns carry on into autumn 2020, when the projects are expected to start. However, the commission will be flexible when it comes to timing, a spokeswoman said.

Researchers' Night, a Europe-wide public event for research funded by the MSCA, has been postponed from 25 September and will now take place on 27 November 2020. This year, 51 European Researchers' Night projects will be funded in 30 European countries.

The 530 million fund was announced back in September 2019, with the call for proposals closing in January 2020, before travel restrictions and lockdown measures were taken across Europe in March due to the spread of COVID-19.

Over 80 of the 147 ITNs will be coordinated by organisations from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. Central and eastern Europe remains underrepresented, with only 2 projects coordinated by Poland and the Czech Republic.

Universities from the UK will lead six ITNs with total funding of almost 20 million, training early career researchers in engineering, social and environmental sciences.

Of the selected projects, 31 per cent will train researchers in the field of engineering, 24 per cent in life sciences, and 10 per cent in social sciences.

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