In this blog entry, we review the procedures to assign María de Maeztu funds and its distribution across projects in the period 2016-17.
Specific internal procedures have been defined and widely shared (available here) that describe the process to assign the funds from the María de Maeztu (MdM) Strategic Research Program (SRP).
The main instrument for the assignment of funds has been the launch of internal calls (widely communicated and available here, together with the selected projects) aiming to capture the existing research lines (supervised by a Project PI responsible for its execution) that form the core of the implementation of the MdM SRP. The aim of the internal calls has been to consolidate these existing research teams and, subsequently, has aimed at being highly inclusive, with the objective of maximising the alignment and execution of the existing activities to the main goals of the SRP.
The MdM funds are in general used to co-fund activities, as the MdM SRP specifically aims at improving the existing research lines and programs. Specifically, the MdM SRP has been expected to provide then an additional degree of flexibility to each research line to realise the overall strategic goals. The main source of co-funding have been department funds (the DTIC program for PhD fellowships - research project modality - and the DTIC fund to support research activities – COFRE), but the execution of the activities has also included the funds linked to the participation of external entities in the projects (such as Eurecat or Bell Labs), activities co-organised with externally funded programs such as the NEUBIAS network, and public and private funds obtained for the execution of the actions (such as the call for scientific infrastructure by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, or private sponsors for the execution of the public engagement activities and scientific events)
This call allowed the Executive Direction of the MdM SRP to anticipate the funding needs of the SRP during its whole duration. After this first call funds were still be available for additional Principal Investigators (PIs) to join the execution of the strategic research program, and subsequently a second call was published during the same year to allow faculty members not yet part of the program to join.
The direction of the program discussed the individual proposals with the candidate Project PIs, in order to support the alignment of the execution of the project to the indicators of impact defined in the MdM SRP. The result of the call was a selection of projects forming the core of the implementation of the SRP, made available in the corresponding section of the web, and validated by the Scientific Board of the MdM SRP.
The projects were then included in the MdM SRP specific research plan and the specific use of funds has been discussed during the execution of the project on an individual basis in relation to their adequacy to meet the goals of the MdM SRP and the success in the execution. This means that the inclusion of the projects in the overall MdM SRP implied an a priori reservation of funds to support their execution, but the specific use has been monitored and confirmed as part of the development of the program.
For the individual expenses, the administrative, financial and recruitment procedures are defined and implemented by the corresponding section of the administrative support of the Department, aligned with the regulations of the institutions and the constraints provided by the funding source.
Following the same principles, the Scientific Board of the program has decided to launch additional calls during the execution of the program:
- The innovation program, already defined in the proposal, which has targeted sustainable exploitation models aligned with the overall open science strategy of the department, and which resulted in the support to 4 innovation projects (call and selected projects available here, and current progress available here)
- Two calls to promote collaborations with the other María de Maeztu Unit at UPF, the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, which has resulted in the support of two additional projects (details here)
- A pilot program to promote educational research collaborations with industry. The program has however not funded any Project yet as no proposal met the objectives. This pilot program is being reconsidered to reorient towards the support of educational research collaborations with leading organisations following open science principles
Finally, the funds of the program have been used to support the transversal actions described in the proposal, mainly in three areas, and following the recommendations of the Executive Direction and the approval of the Scientific Board:
- Equipment: support the upgrade of the computational equipment that gives support to all research teams, following the agreements of the Research Commission of the Department. As the needs resulted in more demanding needs than the funds available at the MdM SRP, additional internal and external funds have been sought and secured. Additional information on equipment can be found here.
- Public engagement: support to the deployment of the public engagement program. In order to promote its sustainability in the future, a strong emphasis has been put in creating models of cooperation with external entities, including co-funding
- Support to BSc, MSc and overall PhD program: including research assistantships at MSc (details here) and award for BSc and PhD students linked to Open Science principles (details here)
- Management: resources needed to the management of the program, the organisation of events and training actions of wide interest for the program, and the participation in coordination activities with the funder and / or other networking activities such as the participation in the María de Maeztu / Severo Ochoa network.
DISTRIBUTION PER PROJECTS AND ACTIONS
The costs linked to support actions are higher in this period than their final expected weigth because of the upgrade of equipment, a large investment made in 2017. Until the end of the program, the estimation is to allocate 1M EUR to research projects, 200.000 EUR to the innovation program, 500KEUR to support to transversal actions and management and 300K to indirect costs.
- Research projects: 467.892,76 EUR (161.805,01 EUR in 2016, 323.776,38 EUR in 2017). Update information on projects available here
- Innovation program: 36.258,69 EUR (all in 2017).
- Support to transversal actions and management: 323.776,38 EUR (86.338,58 EUR in 2016, 237.437,80 EUR in 2017)
- Indirect costs: 146.104,91 EUR (43.790,05 EUR in 2016, 102.314,86 EUR in 2017)
SUMMARY PER TYPE OF COST
In this period, the costs spent in categories other than personnel are above the expected pecentage at the end of the execution of the program (30% in this period, 23% of all direct costs expected to be asigned to other costs at the end of the program). Again, this is due to the purchase of equipment during the first half of the project. Despite the fact that costs linked to travel to communicate research results are expected to increase as the program advances, the total amount devoted to this category is expected to remain in line with the original plan (1.3MEUR to personnel, 400KEUR to other costs).
- Personnel: 575.086,33 EUR (195.772,21 EUR in 2016; 379.314,12 EUR in 2017). Additional information on personnel supported with MdM funds can be found here
- Other costs: 252.841,49 EUR (52.371, 38 EUR in 2016; 200.470,11 EUR in 2017).
PhD positions (details here)
- Until now, 8 vacancies associated to the program “Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores”, two calls launched in 2016 and 2017. Awarded candidates (supervisors in brackets): Pablo Accuosto (Horacio Saggion), Ishari Amarasinghe (Davinia Hernández-Leo and Anders Jonsson), Federico Franzoni (Vanesa Daza), Álvaro López (Boris Bellalta and Anders Jonsson), Enric Perera Bel (Miguel Ángel González Ballester and Antoni Ivorra), Daniele Pezzatini (Josep Blat and Óscar Cámara), Diana Ramírez (Ricardo Baeza and Ana Freire), Minz Won (Horacio Saggion and Xavier Serra),
- Additional PhD students are hired via the "La Caixa" INPhINIT PhD program:
2017 Call: Andrea Urru (Miguel Ángel González Ballester), Milica Vujovic (Davinia Hernández Leo), Amelia Jiménez (Gemma Piella). 2018 details in our blog.
2018 Call: waiting for the final confirmation, three grants have been awarded to work with research groups at DTIC (information to be updated soon)
- Junior Leader Retaining Fellowship "la Caixa" to Gergely Neu, who will continue his work at the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Group