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EU Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Program ITN Innovative Training Networks (ITN, EID, EJD) tips

Updated on May 21, 2015


So, you want to get money from EU to establish a network and graduate some PhDs all in a while doing some excellent science you have been craving for. I have been evaluating these projects for a while now and I am here to help.

You have three schemes under Innovative Training Networks (ITN) called

  1. ETN: European Training Networks. These have the largest budget and they are the most popular program. Participants implement a joint research program. The budget is about 320 million Euros, about 90 projects to be funded.
  2. EID: European Industrial Doctorates. These provide doctoral training with the non academic sector, which could be industry, Non governmental organizations, non profits etc.The budget is about 25 million Euros, about 20 projects to be funded.
  3. EJD: European Joint Doctorates. These are doctoral programs to deliver joint degrees. The budget is about 28 million Euros, about 8 projects to be funded.

My previous tips page on Individual Fellowships has over six thousand comments because people use the comment section to help each other out. Below are my tips on writing the proposal and then feel free to use the comments section to ask/answer questions.

What to write under Excellence?

Here are the subcriteria, you have to fill out the form and address all of them properly, and in detail, without going over the page limit. Using the latest technology usually gets you higher scores. But for the writing tips, keep reading:

  • Quality, innovative aspects and credibility of the research programme (including inter/multidisciplinary and intersectoral aspects):

Under this subcriteria, you start off with state of the art, provide some literature, first general then specific, then tell the expert why your research is multidisciplinary. I strongly suggest to underline/bold a sentence to give him a reason why your research is multidisciplinary, so that the expert could write this under strengths. A good example would be This research is multidisciplinary because it combines X, Y, Z fields. Then you can explain it more in couple more sentences. Then you need to tell the expert why your science is Innovative. This requires a little more effort and convincing but I suggest underlining a sentence here as well.

  • Quality and innovative aspects of the training programme (including transferable skills, inter/multidisciplinary and intersectoral aspects:

The same as above but this time you have to write some transferable skills as well. It would be better if your network has some courses etc.

  • Quality of the supervision (including mandatory joint supervision for EID and EJD projects):

Write how many PhD students the advisors graduated/have. If they worked with post docs, even better. Giving a number gives the expert a way to say that the supervisor has experience.

  • Quality of the proposed interaction between the participating organisations:

If they had a project before that's very good, but don't just depend on that. Write that they will interact like this or that.

What to write under Impact?

  • Enhancing research- and innovation-related human resources, skills, and working conditions to realise the potential of individuals and to provide new career perspective: Here, the most important thing is the "career perspectives".

You have to write something like: this aspect and that thing will help the students get better jobs, or get them faster. People sometimes write that the students will get this skill or that skill but forget to write how that will help them get a job.

  • Contribution to structuring doctoral / early-stage research training at the European level and to strengthening European innovation capacity, including the potential for:
    a) meaningful contribution of the non-academic sector to the doctoral/research training, as appropriate to the implementation mode and research field
    b) developing sustainable joint doctoral degree structures (for EJD projects only):

So, this is how your project contributes to innovation in Europe in general. If you wrote the innovation section under the excellence section properly, your job should be easier here.

  • Effectiveness of the proposed measures for communication and dissemination of results:

This is where most people get weakness comments. Try to make a list yourself, and write at least a sentence for each tool of communication. Use radio and TV, newspapers, website, twitter, facebook, Marie Curie ambassador, etc. If you use your institutions' tools that are already in place to strengthen your website/social accounts, its even better because more people recognize them compared to a newly opened website by you.

What to write under Implementation?

This section used to be the easiest because you would just write about infrastructure, but now you have work packages, various tables etc. Please make sure the table names and the text matches so your proposal does not look sloppy.

  • Overall coherence and effectiveness of the work plan, including appropriateness of the allocation of tasks and resources (including awarding of the doctoral degrees for EID and EJD projects.

This basically asks the expert to look at the work plan and evaluate it. A lot of people gaze at it and unless they see something weird or out of place, they leave it alone.

  • Appropriateness of the management structures and procedures, including quality management and risk management (with a mandatory joint governing structure for EID and EJD projects

The management is important, so if you include a chart or something, it makes the expert's life easier and it will return to you as increased score unless you do something dumb with this. If your network is small, make a simple structure but an average ITN network is not small, at least the good ones, so establish it accordingly.

More important here is the risk management. A lot of people tend to overlook that, or not write about real risks, and it comes back as a lowered score. Be sure to have a solid B plan for your risk and spend some text space on the risks, especially scientific risks. Writing something like, oh may be we cannot find somebody to work with us, then we will do this and such is not sufficient.

  • Appropriateness of the infrastructure of the participating organisation.

This is pretty straightforward, just try and show what you have in your institute. I am pretty sure you have a lot of equipment and other tools available to you.

  • Competences, experience and complementarity of the participating organisations and their commitment to the programme. The participating organizations have to have a commitment letter, the beneficiaries do not. You are usually judged by what you wrote before, so don't go over the page limit here. If necessary, you can refer to the darn tables at the end, but you need to write something to show for it.

EID specific issues

  • All fellows should stay at the industry for minimum half of their recruitment.
  • All students must be in a PhD program at an academic beneficiary.
  • A joint governance structure has to be shown in the proposal for supervision, monitoring etc.
  • Each student has to have at least two supervisors, one from each sector.

EJD specific issues

  • All students must be in a PhD program leading to a joint or double or multiple degree.
  • A joint governance structure has to be shown, just like EID.
  • There must be letter of institutional commitment by the EJD applicants, signed by the organization's legal representative to show that they will provide a joint PhD.

Maria Skłodowska-Curie


Marie Curie

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