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MSCA-ITN-2019 evaluation results released – Preliminary analysis

20th May 2019 at 1:55 pm

DISCLAIMER: This article may NOT be considered in any way as deriving from and/or representing the views and interpretations of the European Commission and the Research Executive Agency.

We have been waiting eagerly for the publication of the Innovative Training Networks (ITN) 2019 evaluation results. After last year’s surprising drop in the number of ITN submissions, would this trend continue? Are the decreasing chances of projects being successfully evaluated forcing researchers to look elsewhere? We already knew that the available budget had been increased by a significant amount in comparison to the previous year. Though the increased amount hasn’t lead to any significant changes in the success rate as the difference had been negated by an increase in submitted proposals. In fact, a general decrease in the success rate had been observed over the last years.

A continuing downward trend in submissions

The first question we sought to answer was whether ITN submissions were continuingly declining or if last year’s numbers were just an exception to the rule. We now know that the downward trend is continuing. In total there were 6% fewer submissions for the MSCA-ITN-2019 call when compared with the previous year. With only 1565 proposals this year marks a five-year low for total ITN submissions.

What hasn’t decreased is the available budget. As in previous years, the available budget has steadily increased to a total of €470 million compared to the €442 million available last year.

Fewer submissions, higher success rate?

As mentioned, the foreseen budget for ITN calls in 2019 has, as in previous years, increased. With that in mind, we should be expecting a higher success rate in comparison to previous years. Based on the available budget, the number of proposals receiving an evaluation score above the threshold and the total budget requested from the above-threshold proposals we’ve calculated an expected success rate of

These results would mean an increase in the success rate for ITNs. However, these numbers should only be viewed as preliminary estimates. As experienced last year, the actual amount paid out was lower than the planned budget. Were this the case this year it would lead to fewer projects being funded and thus a lower success rate.

Pushing the boundaries and other observations

Though there were fewer proposals submitted we’ve been able to observe a clear increase in the quality of submissions. Close to 9.5% of all ITN proposals submitted in 2019 received an evaluation of 95 points or higher and over 28% were over 90 points, from a possible 100. Last year only 7.4% achieved 95 or more points and 25.7% more than 90. Last year only one single proposal achieved a perfect score of 100 points, whereas four proposals could share this honour in 2019.

The Mathematics (MAT) panel it is the only one where a score lower than 90 points still accounted for a proposal being successfully evaluated. Proposals with a score of 86 points were within the funding range on the ECO panel and proposals with a score of 88 points for the MAT panel. However, the two panels also had the fewest number of submissions of all European Training Networks (ETN) panels with only 16 proposals being submitted to each. The toughest panels are Environment and Geo-Sciences (ENV), Chemistry (CHE) and Social Sciences and Humanities (SOC) with the former requiring a minimum of 96 points and the latter two each 95 points. Interestingly this was also observed last year.

Submissions for European Industrial Doctorates (EID) and European Joint Doctorates (EJD) also went down however these observations are in accordance with the general total decline. The threshold for EIDs remains at 90 points; however, the threshold for EJDs went down from 94 to 92 points when compared to last year’s statistics.

MSCA-ITN-2020 and accelopment

And so it’s almost upon us, the final ITN submission under the Horizon 2020 framework programme. The indicative budget of €525 million would be another significant increase in the available budget. The increase would be almost double of what we’ve been promised this year. With the trend of decreasing submissions, this might be it, the best opportunity to submit an ITN proposal writers have had in many years.

But as we’ve observed, only a high-quality proposal will have a chance of being funded. And that is where accelopment might be able to help you. 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) MUSIQ, NanoCarb, PEARRL, STACCATO, LightDyNAmics and ImmerSAFE amongst others. Our role typically starts with the support of the proposal writing process and to help 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.