The Marie Curie Actions at CERN – reaching out beyond particle physics and Europe

The European Commission’s Marie Curie Actions have been a pillar of the EU Framework Programmes for several decades as a means of promoting career development and enhancing mobility of researchers in Europe. This corresponds nicely to one of CERN’s main missions: to train the next generation of scientists and engineers.


The European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou (centre) met the Marie Curie Fellows on her visit to CERN in April 2013.

CERN has been pleased to be a major player in the Marie Curie Actions under the Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes (FP6 from 2002 to 2006 and FP7 from 2007 to 2013), being one of the most successful participants in Europe. Under FP7, CERN was ranked first in Switzerland and fifth in Europe against stiff competition in terms of overall funding. Participation was in all of the Marie Curie Actions: Initial Training Networks, Industry-Academia Partnership Pathways, IRSES, COFUND, Individual Fellowships and Researchers Night. “In terms of activities, the Marie Curie Actions gave us funding that allowed access for a greater number of researchers to work in a wide range of activities linked to experimental, applied and theoretical physics, accelerator technologies, IT and life science applications, for example,” says Seamus Hegarty, coordinator for Marie Curie Actions at CERN. “Initial Training Networks like PARTNER and ENTERVISION brought together applied physicists, doctors and industrialists in projects with far-reaching societal impact such as wanted by the European Commission. Researchers had exchange visits between the partners and gained exposure not just to science and technology but also to complementary skills that will stand them in good stead for their future careers.”

Although the bulk of the 442 researchers funded under our FP6 and FP7 projects came from Europe (including 185 COFUND Fellows), there were 11 from North America, 7 from Central and South America, 19 from Asia and 1 from Australasia. Whilst one continent – Africa – is missing from the list, ITN projects sponsored early-stage researchers from Africa to attend conferences and schools, thereby helping create contacts which will be useful for their future careers. “With the end of FP7 at the end of 2013, all eyes are now on the new Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020 (H2020), which started in January 2014 and will run until 2020. The newly-branded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions have a substantially-increased budget of 6 billion euro with remodelled projects that will be of CERN-wide interest,” explains Svetlomir Stavrev, head of the EU Projects Office.

In particular, the Innovative Training Networks continue to target early-stage researchers at Junior Fellow level with an increased focus on industrial involvement and training to do doctorates. The RISE project in full continues to promote exchange of expertise between academia and industry as well as the exchange of scientists between Europe and third countries. In addition to funding for Senior Fellows on the Fellowship Programme, COFUND is introducing a doctoral programme funding scheme which in practice is similar to our Doctoral Programme. Individual Fellowships and Researchers’ Night still feature in H2020.

Calls for the first proposals under H2020 are already open: ITN with application deadline of 9 April 2014 and RISE on 20 April 2014. To help prepare proposals, the Marie Curie Steering Group oversees the participation of CERN in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and advises departments on preparing draft proposals – the Group will also review proposals prior to submission.

Interested in submitting a proposal for a MSCA? Contact Seamus Hegarty in HR.

by EU Projects Office