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Get ready for your ITN grant preparation – ITN terminology made easy

13th May 2019 at 1:39 pm

The terminology used by the European Commission (EC) within its funding programmes, for us namely Horizon 2020 (H2020), is quite unique with its large number of abbreviations and uncommon terminology. For researchers new to EU funding projects or not well versed in a certain topic or call this can be a real challenge. Before even starting to write a proposal many have to learn what can appear to be a whole new language (as we call it, EU speak).

Do you know the difference between ETN, EID and EJD? These are all types of Innovative Training Networks, commonly known as ITNs, and are subject of today’s article. Each type of ITN uses a specific set of terms that many interested researchers are not yet familiar with. However, before starting your contract negotiations with the EC or rather the Research Executive Agency (REA), now called grant preparations, following the positive evaluation of your proposal and the official notification letter from the EC, we would like to share the must-know ITN terminology with you.

Though the EC provides a definition of ITN key terms in the Guide for Applicants (GfA) and the Work Programme, we at accelopment have experienced that some of the definitions are a bit cryptic and not thoroughly explained for ITN beginners. In the following tables, we have translated the definitions of key terms into a more user-friendly description and hope that this will save you some headaches during the grant preparation process and beyond. Once you know and understand the meaning of the key terms, you will be in a position to speak a common language with your Project Officer (PO). This will lead to fewer misunderstanding, increased efficiency and of course more fun during the duration of your project.

ITN terminology and what it means

The official definitions of the key terms can be found on pages 6 and 7 of the Guide for Applicants (GfA). We have added numerous terms, which may not be mentioned in the GfA but we think are essential, to the list. Please note that the definitions contained within the GfA frequently change. It is highly advisable to study the appropriate GfA for your project before the grant agreement.

TermEU definitionaccelopment’s translation
Action …under Horizon 2020, “action” refers to the specific project to be implemented by the beneficiaries. Your ITN (ETN, EJD or EID) is an action, i.e. EU funded action Tip: In the DoA (see below), please avoid the word “project” and use “action”.
Beneficiaries …are the legal entities that sign the Grant Agreement and have the responsibility for the proper implementation of the action. They contribute directly to the implementation of the research, transfer of knowledge and training activities by recruiting, supervising, hosting, training and seconding researchers. These are the project partners that will 1) sign the EC Grant Agreement, 2) recruit/employ the ESRs, 3) receive EU funding directly (via the Coordinator), 4) sign the Consortium Agreement and 5) “run the show” All project partners that are “Beneficiaries” must recruit at least one ESR (see below) and sign the EC Grant Agreement (= EU contract)
Date of Recruitment …means the first day of the employment of the researcher for the purposes of the action (i.e. the starting date indicated in the employment contract or equivalent direct contract). As soon as the EC Grant Agreement /= EU contract) is signed by the EC and all Beneficiaries, each Beneficiary/the consortium can advertise the ESR positions. The recruitment process should follow the strategy defined in your proposal. The actual “date of recruitment”, i.e. start date as mentioned in the work contract, must be inserted in the EU portal.
Description of Action (DoA)Not included in the definitions list in the GfA The proposal as submitted in January will be transformed into the DoA. The DoA is divided into two parts:
– Part A includes the WP descriptions the Deliverables, Milestones and Risks from the proposal. These contents will be copied into the online forms of the EU Participant Portal during the grant preparation phase
– Part B covers all other chapters of the submitted Part B1 and Part B2 documents. Part B will need to be uploaded on the EU Participant Portal as a PDF document.
Early-Stage Researcher(s) (ESR/ESRs) …must, at the date of recruitment by the beneficiary, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree The ESRs are at “PhD” level (not postdoc) and are typically enrolled as PhD students at one of the Universities participating in your project. However, it is NOT mandatory for all your ESRs to be enrolled for a PhD programme/acquire a PhD agree at the end of the project
European Training Networks (ETN)European Training Networks help researchers gain experience in different working environments while developing transferable skills. See our detailed articles here.
European Industrial Doctorates (EID) European Industrial Doctorates help PhD candidates step outside academia and develop skills in industry and business. See our detailed articles here.
European Joint Doctorates (EJD)European Joint Doctorates promote international collaboration that cuts across different business and research sectors. See our detailed articles here.
Mobility Rule …researchers 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 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention1 are not taken into account. For international European interest organisations, international organisations, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) or an ‘entity created under Union law’, recruited researchers must not have spent more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date at the same appointing organisation. The idea of ITNs is to support young researchers living in other countries and gaining international experiences- The newly recruited ESRs can have any nationality (European or non-European). When recruiting a non-European national who has not lived in the EU / your organisation`s country for more than 1 year within the past 3 years, visa requirements and the visa process should be checked as this quite often takes longer than expected.
Non-Academic Sector …means any socio-economic actor not included in the academic sector and fulfilling the requirements of the Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation (Regulation No 1290/2013). This includes all fields of future workplaces of researchers, from industry to business, government, civil society organisations, cultural institutions, etc.
Partner Organisations (PO)…contribute to the implementation of the action, but do not sign the Grant Agreement. Partner organisations do not employ the researchers under the action. These are the project partners that will 1) offer specific training courses or secondments, 2) get paid for their efforts based on an agreement with the Beneficiaries, 3) costs are covered by the unit costs paid to the beneficiaries and 4) sign the Consortium Agreement if requested by the Beneficiaries. For more information see this article.
Secondment …is a period of research training with another beneficiary, its entities with a capital or legal link, or a partner organisation implemented to further enrich the training experience of a researcher. These are internships for the ESRs. Some facts:
– These internships/secondments can be some weeks to several months long.
– It is expected that each ESR employed by an academic partner has at least one secondment in a company (SME or industry) at some point (= intersectoral secondment) and an ESR employed at an SME to have one secondment at an academic partner.
– The recruited researchers generally keeps their contract with the sending institution which covers their costs e.g. travel and accommodation.
– Internships should be international, i.e. the ESR should do an internship in another country
– Secondment placements can be with Beneficiaries and Partner Organisations.
The total duration of internships of one single ESR must be max 30% of the duration of their work contract.
– The employer (Beneficiary) can agree with another Beneficiary or Partner Organisation on the reimbursement of costs if the secondments requires additional expenses to be made