Doctoral Networks aim to implement doctoral programmes through partnerships of organisations from different sectors across Europe and beyond to train highly skilled doctoral candidates, stimulate their creativity, enhance their innovation capacities and boost their employability in the long-term.
A Doctoral Network responds to well-identified needs in various research and innovation areas. It also exposes the researchers to the academic and non-academic sectors, and offers research training, as well as transferable skills and competences relevant for innovation and long-term employability. There are three types of Doctoral Networks but all have the objective of promiting international, inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary collaboration in doctoral-level training in Europe.
A typical Doctoral Network is an international consortium of host organisations from the academic and non-academic sectors, including organisations based in Member States and Associated countries. If necessary, the Doctoral Networks can also include participants from host organisations outside Europe.
In the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, academic and non-academic are defined as:
- Academic: consists of public or private higher education establishments awarding academic degrees, public or private non-profit research organisations whose primary mission is to pursue research, and International European Research Organisations.
- Non-Academic: includes any socio-economic actor not included in the academic sector and fulfilling the requirements of the Horizon Europe Rules for Participation. Examples (not-exhaustive) include: industry (SMEs etc.), charities, NGOs, government/public bodies, museums, hospitals, libraries, etc.
The Doctoral Network recruits and trains researchers via a collaborative research project involving significant structured research training aspects such as workshops, summer schools and research training courses. In addition, the researchers must participate in a range of activities designed to develop their complementary and transferable skills, such as training in project management, intellectual property rights, entrepreneurship, mentoring, ethics, and outreach to society. The training must follow the EU Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training.
A key aspect of a Doctoral Network is mobility, both international and inter-sectoral, and the recruited researchers are expected to visit other host organisations in the Network for short exchange visits and/or longer secondment stays. Secondments and exchange visits hosted by non-academic organisations are highly encouraged, and are mandatory for Industrial Doctorates. In addition, all recruited researchers must adhere to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Mobility Rule: at the time of recruitment, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date.
An organisation can participate as a Beneficiary or as an Associated Partner:
- Beneficiaries participate fully in the network, recruiting and training researchers and receiving a portion of the project budget to fund the full costs of this participation. All beneficiaries must recruit at least one doctoral candidate.
- Associated Partners do not recruit researchers, but get involved in training activities (for example, hosting researchers who are on secondment, contributing to training events): Associated Partners do not receive funds from the project budget, but can reclaim eligible participation costs from one of the Beneficiaries.
What research areas are funded?
- All areas of research are covered by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, including STEM subjects and the social sciences, humanities and economic sciences.
Three types of Doctoral Networks can be funded:
- At a minimum, consortia must include at least three independent legal entities, each established in a different EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and with at least one of them established in an EU Member State.
- The Beneficiaries who form the core of the consortium are encouraged to include a mix of participants from the academic and non-academic sectors. Additional participants can get involved as Associated Partners.
- The project funds doctoral students. Researchers’ enrolment in a PhD programme is mandatory. The maximum overall EU contribution for MSCA Doctoral Networks is 540 person-months.
- Project Duration 4 years.
- Typical Project Budget €1 – 4.5 million.
- At a minimum, consortia must include at least three independent legal entities, each established in a different EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and with at least one of them established in an EU Member State. At least two of the institutions conferring a joint, double or multiple doctoral degree must be established in an EU Member State and/or Horizon Europe Associated Country.
- The Beneficiaries who form the core of the consortium can include a mix of participants from the academic and non-academic sectors. Additional participants can get involved as Associated Partners.
- The project can fund doctoral students only and upon completion of the EJD programme, a researcher should receive a joint, double or multiple doctoral degree. The maximum overall EU contribution for MSCA DN-JD is 540 person-months.
- Project Duration 5 years.
- Typical Project Budget €1-4.5 million
- At a minimum, consortia must include at least three independent legal entities, each established in a different EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country and with at least one of them established in an EU Member State. There must be at least one beneficiary from each of the academic and non-academic sectors. The maximum overall EU contribution for MSCA DN-ID is 540 person-months.
- Other participants from any sector can be added if required, either as Beneficiaries or Associated Partners.
- The researchers must spend at least 50% of their time working in the non-academic sector.
- Project Duration 4 years.
- Typical Project Budget €3 – 4.5 million.
How to get involved
- Use your existing contacts to find a consortium to join. Working with experienced participants is a great place for a newcomer to start.
- Build your own consortium using your existing networks.
- Find new partners. There are a number of tools available to help you do this:
– Use the Partner Search page of the EU’s Funding & Tenders Portal.
– The MSCA-NET matchmaking platform.
– You can also access Knowledge Transfer Ireland’s Find a Research Partner.
– Looking to find an industry partner? The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) provide Partnering Opportunities
– Looking to find a civil society partner in Ireland? See Access Europe’s Partner Database
How to apply
There is an annual funding call for Doctoral Networks. Details of all Calls, including application documentation, may be found on the Funding and tender opportunities portal.
More information can be found on the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions website.
You can also watch our most recent information webinar here
If you have just 10 minutes to spare but want to learn more about the 2023 Doctoral Networks call, check out our bite size overview.