I benefited from a Marie Curie Action – IIF in the spotlight

Taichiro Iki (Japan), Valentin Ivanov (Belarus), Sergio Roa (Spain) and Shenqi Wang (China) are four of the many Fellows having benefited from an International Incoming Fellowship (IIF). They shared their experience and advice with us.

 Taichiro Iki (Japan), Valentin Ivanov (Belarus), Sergio Roa (Spain) and Shenqi Wang (China)

What is a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship (IIF)? The Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowships (IIF) are open to experienced researchers with a doctoral degree or at least four years of full-time equivalent research experience, and based outside the EU. The aim is to support researchers moving from around the world to work on projects in Europe.

To apply for an IIF, you must have a host organisation established in a Member State or Associated Country, and if applicable, a return host organisation from an International Cooperation Partner Country (ICPC) for the return phase. A project proposal is submitted by the researchers in liaison with the host organisation, which is represented by the scientist in charge (future coordinator).

The IIF is open to various types of host organisation, such as:

  • national governmental or public organisations (universities, research centres, etc.);
  • international organisations;
  • commercial companies, including those of small and medium size (SMEs);
  • non-profit or charitable organisations (NGOs, trusts, etc.);
  • International and European interest organisations (CERN, EMBL, etc.);
  • The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

Projects are classified into: chemistry, economic sciences, information science and engineering, environment and geosciences, life sciences, mathematics, physics, social sciences and humanities.

If you want to benefit from an IIF, preliminary research may be fruitful! Before working on his Marie Curie project (in the field of immunoncology – he aims to increase understanding of the molecular mechanisms that are deregulated in diffuse large beta-cell lymphomas), Roa was looking for job opportunities in Spain and contacted the Centre for Applied Medical Research of the University of Navarra (CIMA), his future host organisation. There, the R&D project management office of suggested that he should apply for an IIF as the organisation already had experience in applying for such actions.

Iki and Shenqi were both introduced to this Marie Curie Action by colleagues, whereas Ivanov did his research on the internet.

An application has to be carefully prepared, taking into account the benefits of the proposal for the European Union. It took four months for Roa to submit his application, as he realised that it was more time-consuming than expected. His advice for other Fellows wanting to apply for this type of Action would be: “Ensure you pay special attention to the impact and benefits of your proposal for Europe and your integration within the European Research Community”. Shenqi, who worked on a project called ’Optical fibre-based nano-bio-sensor for early prostate cancer diagnosis’ in the United Kingdom, says “the topic should satisfy the EU’s requirements”. It took three months for Iki and two months for Ivanov to apply for an IIF.

Find synergies between your host organisation and the scientist in charge. Ivanov worked on a project in Germany dedicated to the study of fuzzy methods for the identification of tyre-surface interaction parameters, and to new approaches to controlling vehicle dynamics using fuzzy tyre models. He says: “The work was efficiently organised through regular research meetings on a weekly basis with the scientist in charge and host research group. In all administrative and management tasks, I was always supported by the EU Funding Office of the host organisation.” Roa considers himself lucky when he says, “Fortunately we immediately found synergies and opportunities of collaboration between my supervisor's interests and my own research interests and expertise, without jeopardising any of his on-going projects at the host institution.”

Iki, who is currently working on a project linked to plant viral strategies to counteract antiviral effects of host RNA silencing, received a lot of support from his scientist-in-charge in facilitating professional collaborations.

If you want to continue working on your project, secure your post-Fellowship position. Ivanov wanted to perform long-term investigations in the same host organisation for his project, but had to find other sources of funding “I had to look for new funding opportunities at the end of my Fellowship. Fortunately, my host organisation had industrial contacts, and was able to help me organise my post-Fellowship project”. Roa also had to look for additional funding and recently received good news: “I was just awarded my first national three-year grant as an independent junior investigator (from the Spanish Government) to expand the work of the IIF proposal.”

An IIF can be a career springboard. Each of our four Fellows considers that receiving an IIF boosted their career. Iki is still working on his Marie Curie project but recognises that this experience is opening up global opportunities. Ivanov is still working at his host organisation as a Research Professor and a Project Officer. He used his experience to apply for another Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) and is hoping to now become a Marie Curie project coordinator. Shenqi is now a full professor at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. To Roa, “This IIF is definitely helping me to boost my career towards an independent research position”.


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