Innovative Training Networks (ITN)

The Innovative Training Networks (ITN) aim to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers (PhD students), able to face current and future challenges and to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit. ITN will raise excellence and structure research and doctoral training, extending the traditional academic research training setting, and equipping researchers with the right combination of research-related and transferable competences. It will provide enhanced career perspectives in both the academic and non-academic sectors through international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility combined with an innovation-oriented mind-set.

A typical Innovative Training Network (ITN) is a consortium of host organisations from the academic and non-academic sectors, including organisations based in Member States and Associated countries. If necessary, the ITN 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 interest organisations
  • Non-Academic: includes any socio-economic actor not included in the academic sector and fulfilling the requirements of the Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation. Examples (not-exhaustive) include: industry (SMEs etc.), charities, NGOs, government/public bodies, national archives, libraries, etc.

The ITN 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 an ITN 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 essential. In addition, all recruited researchers must adhere to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Mobility Rule: at the time of recruitment, researchers cannot be recruited in a country where they have lived for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment start date.

An organisation can participate as a Beneficiary or a Partner Organisation:

  • 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.
  • Partner Organisations do not recruit researchers, but get involved in training activities (for example, hosting researchers who are on secondment, contributing to training events): Partner Organisations 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.

Summary Details

Three types of Innovative Training Network can be funded:

1) European Training Networks (ETN)

  • Typical consortium size 6 to 10 participants (minimum is three participants in at least three different Member States or Associated countries).
  • The Beneficiaries who form the core of the consortium should include a mix of participants from the academic and non-academic sectors. Additional participants can get involved as Partner organisations.
  • The project can fund doctoral students, and if appropriate, research positions that do not lead to a degree award.
  • Project Duration 4 years.
  • Typical Project Budget €3 – 4.5 million.

2) European Joint Doctorates (EJD)

  • Typical consortium size 4 to 8 participants (minimum is three academic participants in at least three different Member States or Associated countries).
  • 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 Partner organisations.
  • 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.
  • Project Duration 4 years.
  • Typical Project Budget €3 – 4.5 million.

3) European Industrial Doctorates (EID)

  • The minimum consortium size is one academic Beneficiary and one non-academic Beneficiary from two different Member States or Associated Countries.
  • Other participants from any sector can be added if required, either as Beneficiaries or Partner Organisations.
  • The researchers must spend at least 50% of their time working in the non-academic sector, in a different country from where their main host beneficiary is located.
  • Project Duration 4 years.
  • Typical Project Budget €1 – €4.5 million.

How to get involved

  • Use your existing contacts to find a consortium and join-up. Working with experienced participants is a good place for a newcomer to start.
  • Build your own consortium using your existing contacts.
  • Find new partners using the CORDIS Partners Service, InterTradeIreland’s Research Connections interactive map and Knowledge Transfer Ireland’s “Find a Research Partner“. The European Advisor who specialises in your research area is also knowledgeable about appropriate partners.

How to apply

There is an annual funding call for Innovative Training Networks. Details of all Calls, including application documentation, may be found on the Participant Portal.

More information can be found on the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions website