Postdoctoral Funding Scheme is About to Change

The Estonian Research Council (ETAG) plans to change the postdoctoral funding scheme – young researchers will have a greater chance to get funding.

The Mobilitas Pluss programme of internationalisation of research and support for mobility and the next generation co-financed from the European Regional Development Fund will end in August 2023, but a new programme with changed name and activities will be launched at the end of this year already. The Mobilitas Pluss programme supported postdoctoral fellows coming to Estonia. Similar support will continue in the next programme, but with significant changes. The aim is to make better use of the synergy between Horizon Europe and the structural funds. The main changes in the new programme are as follows:

  • The European Horizon Marie Skłodowska-Curie (MSCA) Seal of Excellence will be implemented – proposals will have to be submitted to the MSCA postdoctoral fellowships (MSCA PF) call. The proposals cannot be submitted directly to ETAG.
  • In addition to postdoctoral fellows coming to Estonia, the new programme also supports Estonian researchers who want to carry out postdoctoral research abroad, although the main focus will remain on incoming postdoctoral fellows.
  • The new programme will fund researchers who have obtained their doctoral degree no more than eight years ago. In case of work outside research, career breaks, parental leave, or military service, the period of qualification is extended.
  • ETAG supports only those projects that contribute to the areas of smart specialisation defined in the Estonian Research and Development, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Strategy 2021—2035.

Using the MSCA PF scheme means that young researchers and postdoctoral fellows, including those who have earned their doctoral degree in Estonia but have stayed abroad for some time (returning researchers), now have three funding opportunities by submitting a single proposal:

  • The researcher, together with the Estonian R&D institution and supervisor, submits a proposal to the MSCA PF call. Usually, the deadline for submitting proposals is in mid-September (this year on 14 September);
    1. The first option is to receive funding from the MSCA PF, which is a prestigious and highly competitive fellowship programme leaving a positive mark on the researcher’s CV.
    2. If the proposal exceeds the evaluation thresholds but cannot be funded due to lack of budget, it will be automatically transferred to the ERA Fellowships call, funded from the Widening Participation and Spreading Excellence actions under Horizon Europe. Widening measures contribute to supporting a limited number of countries (including Estonia) to foster balanced mobility flows of researchers. The conditions of the MSCA PF will also apply to the ERA Fellowships.
    3. The non-funded proposals that have exceeded the evaluation thresholds and contribute to the areas of smart specialisation can be submitted to ETAG. The scientific evaluation given under the MSCA PF scheme will not be re-evaluated, but the applicant must explain how the proposed project addresses the smart specialisation priorities.

Applicants should note that proposals cannot be submitted directly to the ERA Fellowships nor to the ETAG postdoctoral call, but all proposals are submitted and evaluated under the MSCA PF scheme.

Additional information:

Kristin Kraav
+ 372 730 0337

Allan Padar
+ 372 731 7350