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Published:  20 Sep 2023

Next Staff Exchanges call opening soon: 6 steps to prepare your application

Get started with this funding scheme and learn how to prepare a successful proposal.

MSCA Staff Exchanges promote innovative international, inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration in research and innovation through exchanging staff and sharing knowledge and ideas at all stages of the innovation chain.

The scheme fosters a shared culture of research and innovation that welcomes and rewards creativity and entrepreneurship and helps turn ideas into innovative products, services, or processes.

The MSCA are open to all domains of research and innovation, chosen freely by the applicants, and have a strong focus in interdisciplinary, international and intersectoral cooperation. Staff Exchanges support collaborative projects addressing this triple dimension spanning all research fields and provide specific opportunities to promote international cooperation between the academic and non-academic spheres.

If you are considering applying for MSCA Staff Exchanges, here are some useful tips and guidance to start preparing your proposal.

Step 1: get familiar with how funding works

Have a look at the Staff Exchanges page and key resources for an introduction to the scheme’s features.

Consult the MSCA Work Programme and annexes for all details about the call. Check thoroughly the basic resources to dig deeper into the programme’s requirements.

The Funding and Tender Opportunities Portal is the one-stop-shop for future applicants, offering useful resources such as

  • the Guide for Applicants (available soon under the “Documents” section) the best starting point for any consortium interested in the scheme
  • a set of official Frequently Asked Questions
  • proposal templates and application forms, evaluation forms and evaluation criteria, and many other resources

Attend webinars and hands-on workshops to learn more about the call.

The European Research Executive Agency (REA) is organising an online information session on the Staff Exchanges 2023 call on Friday 8 December 2023, 10.00 - 12.30 (CET).

MSCA National Contact Points and Euraxess Worldwide organise information sessions regularly. Contact them to find out about the next sessions.

The MSCA-NET project, run by MSCA National Contact Points, offers complementary resources to support applicants

CORDIS, the official projects’ database of the European Commission, can help you find examples of previously funded Staff Exchanges projects.

Step 2: make sure your organisation can apply and your staff is eligible to take part

Organisations

Organisations from all socioeconomic sectors in any country can apply to Staff Exchanges. This includes

  • higher education institutions
  • research institutions and infrastructures
  • private sector organisations, including industry, businesses, and small and medium-sized enterprises
  • public sector organisations, including national, regional, and local governments, agencies, and museums
  • other socio-economic actors, including NGOs, charities, etc.

Staff Exchanges projects are highly international projects, implemented by consortia involving several organisations from the EU, countries associated to the Horizon Europe programme and very often organisations from third countries.

Secondments are the core of Staff Exchanges projects. Such secondments last for a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 12 months. In addition, all secondments should fulfil certain conditions (see specific conditions in the MSCA Work Programme and Guide for Applicants).

Participating organisations host and train seconded staff from other project partners at their own premises, and second staff abroad to other organisations in the consortium. However, the participation modalities differ depending on where the organisation is based.

  • Organisations based in EU Member States and countries associated to the Horizon Europe programme can participate as beneficiaries, meaning that they are automatically eligible for funding and can second, host, and train staff members.
  • Organisations based in all third countries can participate as associated partners.
    • Low and middle-income third countries can second their staff, and host and train seconded staff from other partners in EU Member States and countries associated to the Horizon Europe programme under the project’s costs(see specific conditions in the MSCA Work Programme)
    • Organisations based in high-income third countries can host and train seconded staff from other partners in EU Member States and countries associated to the Horizon Europe programme under the project’s costs, but they can to second their staff members only under their own expenses. Some countries like Japan, Canada and Brazil have set up complementary funding mechanisms for this purpose – interested organisations should refer to the relevant national authorities.

If you are not sure about your country’s status, have a look at the list of participating countries to Horizon Europe.

Staff members

Staff members funded by Staff Exchanges will receive a top-up allowance on top of the salary paid by their sending organisation. They should fulfil the following requirements.

  • Should be considered staff of the sending organisation
  • Can be researchers at any career stage, from PhD candidates to postdoctoral researchers, as well as administrative, technical or managerial staff involved in research and innovation activities, of any nationality
  • Must be engaged in, or linked to, research and innovation activities at their sending organisation for at least one month prior to the secondment
  • Should return to their sending organisation after the secondment, to pass on their knowledge and foster collaboration

Step 3: find the best partners to prepare your proposal

To apply you will need to build an international and diverse consortium of leading organisations in the proposal’s research field following some minimum requirements (see specific conditions in the MSCA Work Programme).

Staff Exchanges reward intersectoral and international consortia, involving either organisations in different socioeconomic sectors in and outside academia or organisations in third countries.

You could start by exploring the existing links that your department and organisations have with institutions around Europe and worldwide.

You can also use this call to explore new collaborations and expand your networks. Every consortium has a coordinating institution and partner organisations that contribute to the implementation of project.

The following resources may help you find new partners to work with and advertise your organisation

If you are still uncertain about the eligibility of your consortium, MSCA National contact points can help you go through the criteria.

Step 4: start drafting your application

To draft a successful application, you will need to get familiar with the award criteria and the specific requirements of the call and stick to them. The call’s page on the Funding and tenders portal offers several resources to learn more about them.

In addition, all future Staff Exchanges will be required to address these core aspects in their proposal.

  • Skills’ development and training activities: projects should offer opportunities to the seconded staff to acquire new skills, facilitate knowledge sharing, foster networking activities and test innovative approaches to specific research and innovation topics.
  • Mentoring: Particular attention is paid to the quality of mentoring arrangements as well as career guidance in line with the Guidelines for MSCA supervision.
  • Career development: projects should pay special attention to the improved employability and career prospects of participating staff, allowing them to generate and strengthen long-term collaborations and opportunities.

Step 5: check your application with your peers

If you want to receive feedback on your draft and get advice from former applicants and experts, you can reach out to

Step 6: submit your application

The 2023 call for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Staff Exchanges will open on 5 October with a deadline to apply by 28 February 2024, 17:00, CET.

During this period, you and your partners can prepare and submit your application and learn more about the submission process on the call page on the Funding and Tenders Opportunities Portal and through the portal’s online manual. Become familiar with the electronic submission service, which is the online system you must use to submit proposals.

Submit your proposal as early as possible before the deadline expires to avoid last-minute problems. You can update, download, or withdraw your proposal up until the deadline. You can see an overview of the evaluation process on the European Research Executive Agency’s website.

Published:  20 Sep 2023