ITN review – Experiences from the new check meetings
As a Partner Organisation in different ITN projects that have just started recently (e.g. EuroNeurotrophin or LightDyNAmics), we have had the possibility to participate in several check-meetings and collect various points the different Project Officers have been particularly interested in. Overall, the check-meetings’ focus on ESRs was noticeable in many of the POs’ questions.
Our experiences at check meetings
Transparency is of high importance in many aspects of the project, starting with the recruitment process of the ESRs. The consortium has to be committed to an open and transparent application process without violating the personal data of potential candidates. It is thus important that the consortium not only communicates with each other but also with the respective candidates if they exchange personal data in order to find the most suitable candidate for each individual ESR project. Furthermore, the consortium has to be transparent on training funds, salary and allowances before an ESR signs his/her contract. Transparency is also important when it comes to publications and other dissemination material, so make sure to include the EU acknowledgment of your project everywhere necessary.
Gender Balance & Origin
Gender Balance and origin are important issues for the recruitment of ESRs. The POs showed interest in the number of applications and if the gender of the recruited ESRs was representative of the received applications to ensure equal opportunities. However, the POs did not only attach particular importance to gender balance among the ESRs but also when it comes to their supervisory teams. The origin of the ESRs and if there are ESRs from outside Europe is also relevant as this is one of the eligibility criteria for ESRs.
Active Involvement of ESRs
Active involvement of ESRs is a crucial topic during the check-meeting. At this point in the project, all ESR should have been recruited and started their PhD programme. Apart from their scientific training, the ESRs are expected to attend soft skill courses (e.g. public speaking, effective writing, presentation skills, etc.) and participate in outreach activities and conferences. It is thus advisable to start putting this into practice from an early stage instead of postponing it to the end of the project. ESRs are on the other hand expected to integrate themselves into their local environment and, if necessary, language courses are recommended.
Support & Communication
Support and Communication are relevant factors within the project and concern ESRs and supervisors alike. ESRs are encouraged to communicate with each other proactively (e.g. via a WhatsApp group) to share knowledge and ideas and help each other. Support is strongly expected from their respective supervisors, not only locally but also during meetings abroad. Moreover, the consortium has to make sure that the ESRs are highlighted enough on the project website, to ensure visibility within the project.
ITN projects and accelopment
What started out back in 2008 during the 7th Framework Programme with the Initial Training Networks HEALING, SYSWIND, REFINE and TRAIN-ASAP as well as the NeoGel European Industrial Doctorates (EID) programme, has become a long history of supporting training networks since. Our success has not halted with the transition to Horizon 2020, in which we successfully support the Horizon 2020 European Training Networks (ETNs): ClickGene, EXCILIGHT, PEARRL, Train2Target, EuroNeurotrophin, ImmerSAFE and LightDyNAmics. Three more ITNs have just recently started: NanoCarb (ETN, 01.10.18 – 30.09.2022), STACCATO (EID, 01.01.2019 – 31.12.2022) and MUSIQ (ETN, 01.04.2019 – 31.03.2023). Our first role typically is to support the proposal writing and to execute the grant preparations with the EC. Then, during the project implementation, we work as a Partner Organisation assisting in project management tasks, coordinating the dissemination activities and/or contributing to the training activities with Transferable Skills Workshops. More details are available on our website.
Ask for any of our ITN experts Dr Jeanette Müller, Dr Johannes Ripperger or Mr. Marco Cavallaro.