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The NTNU MSCA Challenge

The NTNU MSCA Challenge

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action - Individual Fellowship


We challenge you, young talented and/or experienced researchers from outside Norway to join this programme, and to prepare an application to the Individual Fellowship mobility program under EU’s Horizon 2020.

The aim of this programme is to give ambitious researchers an opportunity, together with senior and experienced supervisers at NTNU, to prepare a successful application for an up to 24 months stay in Norway to enhance your career at one of the dedicated researcher groups at NTNU.

The main event is a two-days symposium in Trondheim, May 14-15, 2020, where you will meet your potential supervisor, other applicants, all necessary information will be given, and your potential application will be discussed and optimized to meet the selection criteria and the tough competition.

The programme is open to all scientific and technological areas, but you must comply with the topics given by one of the NTNU supervisors. NTNU will cover your costs for travelling and staying in Trondheim.


The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), with campuses in the cities of Trondheim, Ålesund and Gjøvik, is the primary Norwegian university in engineering and technology. NTNU is, however, a full range university. Approximately 400 PhD-degrees are awarded yearly, within the fields of technology, science, arts and humanities, social sciences and medicine. NTNU is Norway’s largest university, counting approximately 42 000 students.

Participation in H2020 is a high priority strategic matter for NTNU. NTNU has therefore, over many years, developed a professional administrative project support team to secure a high quality of proposals and a smooth implementation of H2020 projects.

NTNU is committed to the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (C&C) and has implemented a HR strategy in line with the recommendations in these documents.

Due to the outbreak of the Covid19-virus, it is no longer practical or responsible to continue with the MSCA-IF Symposium as planned. 

However, the plenary sessions will be available online via webinar on 14-15 May. We are looking into Skype as an option for 1-to-1 discussions with an expert.


NTNU arranges a seminar for candidates in late MayThis year, the seminar will take place 13-15 May. NTNU covers travel and accommodation to/from Trondheim 13-15 May for up to 15.000 NOK for candidates approved by the supervisor through the «Challenge» programme. If this amount is exceeded, the costs will have to be borne by the candidate or supervisor, alternatively covered through a local agreement with the relevant department at NTNU.

The seminar provides information about the call, as well as sharing of best practices from ongoing MSCA-IF fellows and experienced evaluators. We recommend that both the candidate and the supervisor participate at the seminar, and that they work together on the application during these days.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) aim to support the career development and training of researchers in all scientific disciplines through international and inter-sectoral mobility. By funding excellent research and providing attractive working conditions, the MSCA offer high quality professional opportunities open to researchers of   any age, nationality or discipline.

The MSCA have a bottom-up approach, i.e. research fields are chosen freely by the applicants. All domains of research and technological development are eligible for funding (except areas of research covered by the EURATOM Treaty 3).

The goal of the Individual Fellowships is to enhance the creative and innovative potential of experienced researchers wishing to diversify their individual competence in terms of skill acquisition through advanced training, international and inter-sectoral mobility. Individual Fellowships provide opportunities to acquire and transfer new knowledge and to work on research and innovation in Europe (EU Member States and Associated Countries) and beyond.

The scheme particularly supports the return and (re)integration of European researchers from outside Europe and those who have previously worked here, as well as researchers displaced by conflict outside the EU and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries.  It also promotes the career restart of individual researchers who show great potential.


Proposals for IF involve a single beneficiary located in a Member State (MS) or Associated Country (AC).

Applicants have to indicate at submission stage in which of the eight scientific areas their research topic fits best:

•            Chemistry (CHE)
•            Social Sciences and Humanities (SOC)
•            Economic Sciences (ECO)
•            Information Science and Engineering (ENG)
•            Environment and Geosciences (ENV)
•            Life Sciences (LIF)
•            Mathematics (MAT)
•            Physics (PHY)

Proposals will be evaluated in the selected scientific area, in order to have an optimal expert allocation.

The Standard European Fellowships are divided into eight scientific areas and provide financial support to individual researchers undertaking international mobility.


Humanities and Social Sciences


Archeology and Cultural History - Historical Ecology

Read full project description by clicking on the panel name

Professor James H. Barrett - Department of Archaeology and Cultural History
Bridging Archaeology and Natural History using the Exceptional Collections of the NTNU University Museum - Apply here 

Historical Demography and Economic History

Professor Francisco Beltrán Tapia - Department of Historical Studies
Missing girls in historical Europe - Apply here 

Developmental Neuropsychology - Cognitive Neuroscience

Professor Audrey van der Meer - Department of Psychology
Infant Brain Development - Apply here

Human Geography

Professor Gunhild Setten - Department of Geography
Theorization within the field of moral geography, and that connects to social practices across cultural difference in local communities (rural as well as urban - Apply here

Peace and Conflict Studies

Associate Professor Karin Dyrstad - Department of Sociology and Political Science
Perceptions and Actions in (former) Conflict areas, PACO - Apply here

Medical Sciences

Read full project description by clicking on the panel name


Professor Emre Yaksi - Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience
Investigating the neural connectivity and computations underlying learning in ancestral cortico-limbic circuits - Apply here

Professor Nathalie Jurisch-Yaksi - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Function of cerebrospinal fluid flow in brain development and physiology - Apply here

Systems Neuroscience
Associate Professor Jonathan Whitlock - Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience
Cortical replay of posture and movement during sleep - Apply here

Molecular and Cell biology
Professor Øyvind B. Sandbakk - Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience
Sex differences in the physiological and molecular adaptations of the upper- and lower-body in humans – from untrained to elite endurance athletes - Apply here

Health and Welfare Technology
Professor Arthur Serrano - Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science
Relevance of emotions in Alzheimer's Disease treatment - Apply here

Bioinformatics and Genetic Epidemology
Professer Xiao-Mei Mai - Department of Public Health and Nursing
Revealing potential casual associations between vitamin D and chronic diseases using a non-linear Mendelian randomization approach - Apply here

Physiology and Cardiometabolic Health
Researcher Trine Moholdt - Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging
Breaking the intergenerational cycle of cardiometabolic disease by preconception lifestyle interventions - Apply here

Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine
Researcher Morten Høydal - Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging
The potential role of a new protein as targeted treatment for ischemic heart disease - Apply here

Associate Professor May-Britt Tessem - Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging
Spatial proteomics in prostate cancer - Apply here

Molecular Medicine and Biology
Professor Pål Sætrom - Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine
Long non-coding RNAs in spatial memory and navigation - Apply here

Molecular Biology, Genetics and Epigenetics
Research Scientist Nadra J. Nilsen - Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine
Pattern recognition in Systemic Lupus Erythematous (SLE) - Apply here

Bioinformatics and Pharmacology
Associate Professor Denis Kainov - Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine
Expanding the spectrum of activities of antiviral agents (ExSpect) - Apply here

Information Science and Engineering


Urban Value Ecosystem
Professor Alenka Temeljotov Salaj - Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Apply here

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Sono-Electrocatalysis
Professor Bruno G. Pollet - Department of Energy and Process Engineering
Apply here

Experimental and numerical research on concrete subjected to fast transient loads
Professor Tore Børvik - Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Apply here

Smart Antenna Sensors
Professor Michael Cheffena - Department of Manufacturing and Civil Engineering, Gjøvik
Apply here

Adaptive Model Predictive Control – Energy Flexible Operation of Residential Buildings
Professor Laurent Georges - Department of Energy and Process Engineering
Apply here

Thermo-mechanical study of geothermal energy pile foundation installed in soft clays
Professor Gustav Grimstad - Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Apply here

Advanced and Sustainable Structural Concrete
Professor Mohammad H. Baghban - Department of Manufacturing and Civil Engineering
Apply here

Seismic signatures of fractured media
Professor Alexey Stovas - Department of Geoscience and Petroleum
Apply here

Read full project description by clicking on the panel name

Economic Sciences


Read full project description by clicking on the panel name



Read full project description by clicking on the panel name

Environment and Geoscience



Read full project description by clicking on the panel name







The following chapter describes a non-exhaustive list of relevant tasks required of the supervisor and the candidate.

Our experience at NTNU is that proposals succeeding the in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships (MSCA-IF) program are the joint effort of the candidate and supervisor. We recommend that the proposal is prepared by the candidate in cooperation with the supervisor, who should take an active role from the start of the application process and throughout the project.

The application

The MSCA-IF programme stresses the transfer of knowledge between the candidate and the supervisor, and the ability to demonstrate the complementary skills of the two parties is the key in developing a successful project. The proposal should clearly outline the involvement of supervisor to prove a strong level of commitment from the host institution. As part of the proposal, the supervisor must demonstrate a strong track record of previous training at an advanced level within the field of research, international collaborations, publications, participation in projects and other relevant results. Thus, we recommend that the candidate and supervisor have regular meetings during the application process to develop a clear understanding of how the collaboration will benefit both parties in the project, and to get this convincingly described in the proposal.

NTNU arranges a seminar for candidates 14-15 May 2020. NTNU covers travel and accommodation for candidates approved by the supervisor through the «Challenge» programme*. The seminar provides information about the call, as well as sharing of best practices from ongoing MSCA-IF fellows and experienced evaluators. We recommend that both the candidate and the supervisor participate at the seminar, and that they work together on the application during these days. 

During the project

The supervisor will be mentoring the candidate through regular meetings to discuss the status and progress of the project. The supervisor should provide guidance for training-through-research through making a Career Development Plan together with the candidate. The plan should include training in transferable skills, planning for publications and conference participation, in addition to the research activities. The supervisor must also support the candidate’s integration in the research community at the host institution.

*Up to 15 000 NOK.

  • The researcher must be an experienced researcher*. Periods of inactivity in research (e.g. unemployment, periods of employment outside research, parental or sick leave) do not count towards the time of research experience.
    The researcher may be of any nationality. No age restrictions apply.
  • The researcher cannot have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Norway for more than 12 months in the three years immediately before the call.

*The experienced researcher (ER) must be, at the date of call deadline, in posession of a doctoral degree or have at least four years of full-time equivalent research experience.

During the implementation of the action the experienced researcher may be seconded outside their host organisation to an organisation in a Member Sate or Associated Country. Secondments of the researcher to partner organisations are encouraged, but they hould be relevant, feasible, and beneficial for the researcher and in line with the project objectives. Applicants should therefore consider carefully whether the research would be advanced by a secondment, and whether it should take place in the academic or non-academic sector.

The maximum duration of secondments is defined according to the total duration of the fellowship:

Duration of the fellowship         Maximum duration of secondment

≤ 18 months                                    3 months

> 18 months                                    6 months


The secondment phase can be a single period or can be divided into shorter mobility periods. It can take place at one or more organisations, which can be located in the same country as the beneficiary. A secondment is allowed during any phase of the project to any entity located in a MS/AC. While secondments can take place within the same sector, inter-sectoral secondments are highly encouraged. Entities with a capital or legal link with the host organisation cannot host secondments.

*Short stays are characterised by the type of activity rather than by a specific number of days. A period can only be considered as a short stay if the researcher did not reside or did not have their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country during that period (such as holidays).

  • Experienced Researcher (ER): fellowship applicant, Postdoc from abroad. Requirements are listed under "Eligibility Criteria"
  • Supervisor: Formerly called «Scientist in charge» (normally professor/associate professor) at NTNU who will supervise the ER through his/her fellowship. Selection criteria listed at the bottom of this document.
  • Beneficiary: Host institution, NTNU as a legal entity.





The NTNU MSCA Challenge