In the second quarter of 2018 a public tender will be launched for a new group of grant projects of excellence in basic research - EXPROThe goal of the new EXPRO grant projects is to support research teams led by top internationally recognized scientists or young scientists with a convincing potential for excellence. We aim to direct our support towards already existing excellence or where we hope it may emerge, and thus enhance the quality of Czech science. Excellent research depends on top scientists and is often executed through “high risk - high gain” projects, as we can see for example in European Research Council (ERC) projects. This kind of targeted support has been lacking in the Czech Republic, which is reflected, for example, in a very low ERC project acquisition success rate. The new group of EXPRO grant projects was approved by the Research, Development and Innovation Council (RVVI) at its 328th meeting on 22 September 2017, and subsequently by the Government of the Czech Republic through its Resolution No. 756 on 23 October 2017. GACR hopes to launch the first public tender during the second quarter of 2018. Research should commence in 2019. The basic parameters of the EXPRO projects:
- when evaluating project proposals, the main emphasis will be placed on the - excellence of the main applicant, their curriculum vitae (taking into account - the length of his or her career), the publication results achieved, the - applicant’s international recognition (membership of professional societies - and editorial boards, lectures at international conferences), his or her - experience with projects and their ability to lead a research team;
- only one applicant and one co-applicant may be listed in the project proposal, - a change in the grant beneficiary will only be allowed if it guarantees better - conditions for the project solution;
- the project proposals are expected to not to exceed 15 pages of A4 format;
- the projects will last five years, the use of funds will be evaluated annually - by the GACR office, a professional evaluation will be carried out after 2,5 - years and a year after the project has concluded (i.e., after six years); - project proposals and their scientific results will be evaluated exclusively - by international panels;
- it is assumed that the principal investigators and their collaborators will - work on this project under a minimum 0,5 workload. The team should be smaller - and more compact, with clearly defined roles for individual members; the - expected amount of funding per project will be substantially higher than for - standard projects; the assumption is up to 10 million CZK per year, - investments will be allowed up to 20% of the total project funding.
- wages will not be limited; they should allow the involvement of foreign - experts or Czech experts who are working abroad; the evaluation of the project - proposal will also take into account the involvement of talented PhD and post- - doctoral students and the team’s involvement in international cooperation;
- a requirement for the successful fulfilment of the EXPRO project will be a - commitment of the principal investigator or one of the team members to submit - an ERC project proposal no later than six years after the start of the - project. If the principal investigator does not submit an ERC project - proposal, the EXPRO project will be deemed unfulfilled even if there are - sufficient scientific results and the principal investigator will be penalized - accordingly.
Fellowship to visit ERC Grantee – Support of ERC Grant Applicants
European Research Council (ERC) published an announcement of the new initiative "Fellowship to visit ERC Grantee" on the ERC website on 19. 1. 2016. At the beginning of 2016, ERC stated in its report that certain countries of the European Union have considerably lower representation of scientists in ERC calls, which among others leads to an unused research potential. ERC therefore appealed to responsible national agencies to set up programmes of national fellowships to visit ERC projects. These programmes would enable future ERC applicants to visit current ERC principle investigators and their teams. According to ERC such programmes should help chosen candidates to improve the quality of their research profile and also widen their perspective of a competitive environment of international research. Finally it should help the future applicants with activities leading to a successful application for ERC grants.
The ERC announcement includes recommended guidelines to national agencies for national fellowships programmes to fund short-term visits of potential ERC applicant to current ERC grantees´ teams.
The Czech Science Foundation (GACR) strongly welcomed this initiative and immediately after the ERC announcement started with preparation works and negotiations necessary for a successful launch of the new scheme.
GACR is delighted that after the Czech government´s approval and notification to the ERC the new group of project grants “Support of ERC Grant Applicants” is launched.
‘Support of ERC Grant Applicants’ – in brief‘
The support can be provided only to applicants who meet the eligibility criteria of the § 18 of the Act No 130/2002 on Support of Research and Development.
It is expected that the support will be provided in the period of 2016 – 2022. In order to fulfil the intent and goal of these projects, the duration of projects is set to 3 - 6 months. The call will be announced for the first time in 2016 with the first financial support provided also in 2016. Furthermore the GACR expects the call to be open continuously in the period of 2016-2022.
Every applicant will be obliged to find a suitable ERC grantee, who will act as a mentor on the project. The project will be realised at a foreign institution, where the ERC grant is carried out. A written declaration of foreign institution agreeing on the acceptance of the “Support of ERC Grant Applicants“ proposer is a compulsory part of the application.
The proposer of the “Support of ERC grant applicants“ project has to be a principal investigator of a running GACR Junior project or a principal investigator of a finalized GACR Junior project, which received an evaluation “Excellent” or “Fulfilled”. One person can be a principal investigator of a “Support of ERC Grant Applicants“ project only once. The principal investigator of the “Support of ERC Ggrant Applicants“ project is obliged to submit an application for the ERC grant (StG, CoG, AdG) with a host institution in the Czech Republic in one of the ERC calls announced after the “Support of ERC Grant Applicants“ project is finalized. The application for the ERC grant must be submitted no later than 700 days after the “Support of ERC Grant Applicants“ project is finalized.
Support will be provided for the eligible costs of the project as defined in accordance with § 2 article 2 point m) of the Act No 130/2002 and of the Commission Regulation. Allowable costs are reasoned and accounting justifiable costs. Eligible costs for the “Support of ERC grant applicants“ grants are costs in accordance with §172 of the Act No 262/2006 and §3 of the Act No 62/1994 in line with §181 of the Act No 262/2006.
For the ERC visiting grants, the three member expert committees will be formed on an individual basis, separately for each of the received applications. The committees will be working remotely via email, hence their members will not be overloaded by their participation in the evaluation process. The committees will not have to evaluate the applicant’s track record and research in great depth since this has already been done during the international and panel-based review of the respective Junior grant. The role of the committee will be straightforward, focusing primarily on the outline of the intended ERC grant application.
The role of the hosting ERC grantee is then twofold: Firstly, he/she will be expected to express the agreement with hosting the young scientist who will be bringing his own funding to cover the stay. Secondly, since the hosting ERC grantee is expected to help the visiting young scientist with the preparation of his/her own ERC application, it is important for GACR to know whether the hosting ERC grantee finds the outline plausible and promising. GACR will be expecting only a brief (a few sentences to a paragraph) assessment of the outline.
Please be advised that this information is primarily aimed at potential mentors of the scheme “Fellowship to visit ERC Grantee – Support of ERC Grant Applicants”. More details can be found in the attachment below.
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