The Marie S. Curie work programme: what changed in Horizon Europe?

The popular Marie S. Curie Actions (MSCA) are continued in Horizon Europe (HEU). But several changes have been made relative to Horizon 2020 (H2020). Make sure you are aware of the most important upcoming changes, as they may affect eligibility of your proposal!

Changes ahead; Alpha Stock Images -

Disclaimer: This blog was written in the context of the Horizon Europe 2021-2022 work programme. Parts of it are outdated. Contact us for up-to-date information.

The Horizon Europe MSCA work programme for 2021-2022 includes the familiar flavors: fellowships for individual researchers and several funding options for consortia. As major changes are primarily in the Individual Fellowships and Innovative Training Network calls, I focus on these funding types below.

H2020 Individual Fellowships (IF) become HEU Postdoctoral Fellowships (PF)

Compared to Horizon 2020, the Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships are simplified. In HEU, the different types of European Fellowships (ST, CAR, RI, and SE) are grouped, leaving only the distinction between European and Global Fellowships to choose from. If the fellowship is spent in academia, you can choose to add a 6-month non-academic secondment to the regular 12-24 months duration of the fellowship. Of course, this secondment should significantly add to the benefit of your personal career development.

An important change was made in the eligibility criteria. To apply for a Postdoctoral Fellowship, you need to have acquired a PhD degree at the time of the call deadline. In addition, you can have a maximum of 8 years full-time equivalent research experience after your PhD. The latter may require careful calculation in case of career breaks.

H2020 Innovative Training Networks (ITN) become HEU Doctoral Networks (DN)

Probably the most impactful change in the transition to HEU is the reduction of the maximum total number of funded early-stage researchers from 15 to 10. There is however an exception for industrial or joint doctorates, where the maximum is still 15. The separate panels for industrial doctorates (EID) and joint doctorates (EJD) are gone; all proposals will be evaluated and ranked in a panel selected based on the proposal content.

While formal enrollment in a PhD programme was already customary, it is now mandatory for each early-stage researcher recruited in the project.

Resubmission restrictions

Another novelty in the MSCA programme in Horizon Europe is that resubmission restrictions will apply. For Postdoctoral Fellowships, if you received a score of <70% you are not eligible to apply to go the same host institution the next year. In combination with the eligibility window, this requires careful timing of your application(s). For Doctoral Networks, a score of at least 80% is needed for resubmission the following year. Note that these restrictions do not apply to proposals submitted under H2020. Thus, for the first round of Horizon Europe there are no restrictions yet.

Looking for support?

We have extensive experience in supporting Marie S. Curie proposals. Whether you’re looking for a single review for your Postdoctoral Fellowship or tailored support for your Doctoral Network, we would love to hear from you. Please note that we are also available to discuss potential recycling of Horizon 2020 proposals. Taking into account the changes mentioned above as well as the evaluation report(s), we provide specific advice on changes needed for a competitive proposal in Horizon Europe.

For up-to-date information, always consult the Horizon Europe official call documents.

Author: Neeltje Peters

Co-founder and Research Funding Professional at Fundament.

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