Marie Curie – Doctoral Networks (DN)

The MSCA Innovative Training Network (ITN) scheme under Horizon 2020 is now called MSCA Doctoral Network (DN) under Horizon Europe.

MSCA DNs are European-level training networks essentially fund training for doctoral candidates via international networks of academic and non-academic institutions.

DNs are designed to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative researchers. Aftertraining,  researchers must be awarded a doctoral-level degree and should also have the skills needed to proactively work and communicate across different disciplines, sectors and national boundaries. DN projects provide research and transferable skills training at both individual researcher and network level.

The scheme also aims to raise the quality of doctoral training, making it more structured across the EU as well as competitive on a global scale.

The next MSCA DN 2022 call will open on 12 May 2022 with a deadline of 15 November 2022.

MSCA DN Key Information:

DN projects can last for a maximum of 48 months. The application can be based on any area of research apart from some atomic energy research. (This is covered by the Euratom Treaty.)

The organisations that employ researchers are known as ‘beneficiaries‘. All beneficiaries must recruit at least one doctoral candidate.

Other organisations that take part in the network, but do not employa researcher are known as ‘associated partners‘ (eg provide secondment, training opportunities).

Resubmission

Proposals submitted to the previous call of MSCA Doctoral Networks under Horizon Europe and having received a score of less than 80% cannot be resubmitted the following year.

MSCA Doctoral Network Models

There are three types of  MSCA Doctoral Network that could be applied for: Doctoral Networks, Industrial Doctorates and Joint Doctorates.

Doctoral Networks (DN)

The overall EU contribution for Doctoral Networks is limited to a maximum of 360 person-months. The duration of each fellowship is minimum 3 months and maximum 36 months meaning there can be a maximum of 10 ESRs per network.

Eligibility criteria:

  • At least three different beneficiary organisations established in three different EU Member States or Associated Countries. (At least one of them established in an EU Member State)
  • Once the minimum consortium requirements have been met, it is possible to include additional beneficiaries;
  • Additional beneficiaries will need to be established in EU Member States, Horizon Europe Associated Counties, or low- or middle- income non-associated third countries, included in the yet-to-be published list of countries eligible for funding (Horizon Europe Programme Guide);
  • Legal entities in countries not listed in the Programme Guide will only be eligible for funding if the granting authority considers their participation essential for project implementation; and
  • Associated partners can be located anywhere in the world.

All beneficiaries must recruit at least one doctoral candidate. They are required to host at their premises and supervise recruited researchers, or use associated partners linked to them to do so.

Industrial Doctorates (DN-ID)

Industrial Doctorates allow doctoral candidates to step outside academia and  develop skills in industry and business. They are jointly supervised by academic and non-academic organisations.

Industrial Doctorate consortia  with at least three beneficiaries can apply for up to 540 person months.

Eligibility criteria:

  •  At least three different beneficiary organisations established in three different EU Member States or Associated Countries. (At least one of them established in an EU Member State)
  • At least one beneficiary must be from the academic sector and at least one must be from the non-academic sector.
  • Additional beneficiaries and associated partners  can come from any country or sector, but not all countries are eligible to receive funding to participate.
  • The ESRs must spend a minimum of 50% of their time in a non-academic sector organisation.

Joint Doctorates (DN-JD)

Joint Doctorates represent a highly integrated type of international, inter-sectoral and multi/interdisciplinary collaboration in doctoral training. They deliver joint, double or multiple doctoral degrees recognised in at least one EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country.

Consortia can apply for up to 540 months of ESR training (15 x 36 months PhD fellowships) and ESRs must be enrolled on joint, double or multiple award doctoral degree programmes.

Eligibility criteria:

  • At least three different beneficiary organisations established in three different EU Member States or Associated Countries. (At least one of them established in an EU Member State)
  •  Once the minimum consortium requirements have been met, it is possible to include additional beneficiaries;
  • Additional beneficiaries will need to be established in EU Member States, Horizon Europe Associated Counties, or low- or middle- income non-associated third countries, included in the yet-to-be published list of countries eligible for funding (Horizon Europe Programme Guide);
  • Legal entities in countries not listed in the Programme Guide will only be eligible for funding if the granting authority considers their participation essential for project implementation; and
  • Associated partners can be located anywhere in the world.
  • At least three independent legal entities must be entitled to award doctoral degrees (At least two of them must be established in MS and/or AC.)
  • 4-8 beneficiaries in a proposal is typical.
  • Whenever possible, at least one beneficiary should  be from the non-academic sector.

Eligibility conditions: Recruited researchers

Researchers recruited onto a DN must be doctoral candidates, i.e. not already in possession of a doctoral degree at the date of the recruitment. (Researchers who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis but who have not yet formally been awarded the doctoral degree will not be considered eligible).

Recruited researchers can be of any nationality. They must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date.

Reimbursement

The budget is calculated using unit costs based on the number of researcher months applied for.

Paid to the fellow*

Euros per/month

Paid to the beneficiary

Euros per ESR/per month

Living allowance Mobility allowance Family allowance

(if applicable)

Long-term leave allowance (if applicable)

 

Special needs allowance
(if applicable)
Participation allowance (research, training and networking costs) Management & direct costs
EUR 3400 EUR 600 EUR 660 EUR 4000 x % covered by the beneficiary

 

Requested unit x (1/number of months)

 

EUR 1600 EUR 1200

 

The living allowance is adjusted dependent on the country coefficient (see p.106-107) of the individual beneficiary.

Family allowance is dependent on the personal circumstances of the ESR i.e.whether they have family obligations or acquire family obligations during the action duration.

The long-term leave allowance contributes to the beneficiary’s pay obligations related to researchers’ leave, including maternity, paternity, parental, sick or special leave, longer than 30 consecutive days. 

Special needs allowance contributes to the additional costs of researchers with disabilities.

*Host employment costs are deducted from the allowances shown before the fellow is paid.

Evaluation, success rates and thresholds

Proposals are evaluated on three main criteria: the Excellence (50%), Impact (30%) and Implementation (20%) of the research & training programme.

Scores for successful applications vary by evaluation panel. In 2020, the lowest threshold for an application to be successful was a score of 89.8% and the highest was 96.6% . The overall success rates for the 2020 call were:

  • ETN 8.9%
  • EID 14.8%
  • EJD 14.6%

MSCA DNs@Leeds

The University of Leeds has an impressive track record of success under the DN (formerly ITN) calls.

  • Under FP7 the University co-ordinated 14 networks and was a partner in a further 15, making it one of the most successful applicants to the scheme.
  • Under Horizon 2020, the University has been awarded 31 co-ordinated ETNs, 9 co-ordinated EIDs and is a partner in further 30 ETNs and 3 EJD.

The Marie Curie Fellows Forum

The Marie Curie Fellows Forum, set up by the EU Team, is a new initiative that provides a (currently virtual) space for sharing of best practice and practical experiences with other MSCA Fellows (currently 155 in post). It also adds an additional layer of mentorship through a buddying system which pairs new MSCA researchers with someone who will have experienced similar issues.

Project management & post-award

Successful DN Coordinators usually employ part-time Project Managers to help them with the administrative management of their DN project.

Post award support is also provided by the Faculty Research and Innovation Office and the EU Post Award Team.

Contact us

If you have any queries related to MSCA DNs, please contact us. You can also consult our EU Team Brochure.

For advice about network level transferable skills training available at Leeds, contact the Organisational Development and Professional Learning Team (OD&PL).

For advice about compliance with University rules on the award of PhDs to ESRs contact Christina Robinson, Head of PGR Programmes, Leeds Doctoral College (ext. 34001).

To obtain Faculty approval for an application and to enter the application on the University’s Kristal system, contact your Faculty Research & Innovation Office.