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20th Anniversary of the Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions programme

20th Anniversary of the Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions programme

As most of you will be aware, Horizon 2020, the current Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, has reached the mid-point of its 7-year funding cycle and is in the process of being evaluated to improve the final few years of calls. The White Rose Brussels Office will be leading on a joint submission from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, to the interim evaluation. It’s important that our universities contribute to the consultation as the UK is still part of the EU and so our researchers are still able to apply for European funding up until Brexit. The European Commission is also very keen to receive responses from UK institutions as well. The deadline for contributions is the 15th January and I will share the White Rose submission with you in my next blog post.

The European Commission celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions programme by holding an event in Brussels on the 29th November and long may the programme continue. Within that period, the MSCA programme (and its earlier incarnations) has supported almost 100,000 researchers, including five Nobel laureates and one Oscar winner. The event kicked-off with an entertaining and candid speech by Prof. Andrea Ferrari, Director of Cambridge Graphene centre, who must be the best case study of European funding success, having been an MSCA fellow, then an ERC grantholder when the ERC was launched and then won an ERC Synergy Grant as well! There were also TED-style talks by current and past MSCA fellows, which showed the excellent researchers that the programme has supported in the past and continues to do so now.

On a personal note, I was the UK National Contact Point for MCA (as it was known then) when I worked at the UK Research Office (UKRO) and it was particularly nice to see my old colleagues from the MSCA NCP network and to catch up with them. European funding is a small world and you generally see the same people it different jobs!
On a positive note, the size of my office quadrupled in November. Three policy interns, all recent graduates from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, started their six month placement in the Brussels office on 18th November. Sam Dawkins, Luke Downham and Natalia Grzomba will be working on specific policy reports and will also be assisting with the numerous events that we’re organising in Brussels and also working tirelessly on the WRB website and social media.

And finally, we have a few events confirmed for the new year. On the 9th February, the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) will be holding a invitation-only workshop “Brexit and the International Higher Education Landscape – Strategies and solutions to sustain knowledge partnerships”. All three White Rose universities are also members of WUN, so the Brussels office will be assisting with this workshop that is on a very interesting topic. Another event that is to be confirmed, is a policy event in the European Parliament, potentially on the 28th February for a Leeds-led Horizon 2020 project called CRESCENDO. The project is looking to improve our knowledge of climate processes to help policymakers with their policy decisions. More information on this event will follow soon on our website.

I’d like to wish you all a festive break and look forward to working with you in 2017!

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