MAESTRO 7, HARMONIA 7, SONATA BIS 5: over € 42 million for basic research in new calls for proposals

Monday, 15 June 2015

Advanced researchers, scholars carrying out international research projects as well as those considering forming a new research team may apply for funding under new calls by the National Science Centre. Proposals should be submitted by 15th September 2015.

This is for the seventh time that the NCN has announced its prestigious MAESTRO call. It is addressed to eminent researchers who plan to do pioneering research, including interdisciplinary enterprises conducive to the advancement of science which may lead to discoveries. The total sum of funding earmarked for successful MAESTRO 7 candidates exceeds € 14 million.

In MAESTRO 7 projects the Principal Investigator may be a researcher with a doctoral degree who over the course of the last 10 years has had their papers published in quality journals, has acted as Principal Investigators in at least 2 completed research projects, and who can claim additional research activity, e.g. participation in international conferences. In MAESTRO 7, the projects must provide for employment of at least one post-doc and at least one doctoral student, each for a minimum of 36 months.

HARMONIA 7 is an opportunity for researchers to carry out projects in collaboration with partners from abroad or use large international research facilities. Its budget is nearly € 12 million. The cap on funding available to an individual project has been set at € 355,000 (paid to the beneficiary over the course of 3 years). Note that the funding received under HARMONIA 7 may serve to cover only the costs incurred by the Polish contribution. Additionally, the purchase, construction or upgrading of research equipment does not qualify for funding.

SONATA BIS 5 is a funding scheme where the resources serve the purpose of building a new research team. Applicants may be individuals who earned their PhD or equivalent in the years 2003-2012. The research team may include only one researcher with habilitation (as Principal Investigator); arrangements must be made for hiring at least one doctoral candidate for a period of at least 36 months. The funding available under the SONATA BIS 5 scheme totals € 16.5 million.

The calls we have now announced are an important element of the system of distributing resources that the NCN has developed: it is an efficient tool for selecting the best researchers and equipping them with necessary resources. Unfortunately, our budget is disproportionately low when compared to individual needs and this is one reason for the limitations we have introduced in the call regulations. A success rate of 16 per cent means that receiving a grant from the NCN is not only a matter of writing a good proposal, said professor Zbigniew Błocki, director of the NCN. We have been appealing for an increase in the budget for basic research in domestic finances; otherwise the system is perceived as daunting. In Poland we have many excellent researchers with very good ideas and they deserve support in developing those concepts.

The new MAESTRO, HARMONIA and SONATA BIS calls are also instrumental in introducing modifications to the catalogue of costs eligible for funding in the projects. This is a policy which the Council of the NCN has been implementing since the last edition of the OPUS, PRELUDIUM and SONATA calls. The modifications apply for the most part to salaries in grants.