The results of the MAESTRO 8, HARMONIA 8 and SONATA BIS 6

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The National Science Centre has announced the results of its MAESTRO 8, HARMONIA 8 and SONATA BIS 6 calls for proposals. The list of awardees includes 161 researchers from all across Poland; they will receive total funding of some € 54 million.

The concluded opportunities grant resources to extensive research requiring the collaboration of a larger body of scholars. SONATA BIS allows researchers to form a new research team, while the awardees of the HARMONIA call collaborate with research teams abroad on joint projects; under MAESTRO, the most experienced researchers act as leaders to projects pioneering in nature. The three funding opportunities have seen a total of 672 submitted proposals, of which 161 earned funding. This translates into an almost 24 per-cent success rate, 4 per-cent higher than in the previous editions of the programmes.

Just as in the previous year, we can claim an increase in the success rate related to an increase in NCN’s 2017 budget. Also, of no small significance are the changes that have been taking place in the research community, said professor Zbigniew Błocki, director of the NCN.

Applicants have a better understanding of how the grant system works, added professor Janusz Janeczek, Chair of the NCN Council. There are ever greater numbers who won’t be easily discouraged by their first rejected attempts, but instead draw on reviewers’ critical remarks to improve their projects and try once again in future editions.

MAESTRO is a funding opportunity for experienced researchers who want to conduct pioneering research that seeks to go beyond the state of the art. Eligible for funding are projects by individuals with previous achievements documented by renowned international journals. They will have been principal investigators to other research projects financed on a competitive basis, actively involved in the actions of the research community, e.g. as members of scientific boards of international conferences or of international associations. In the eighth edition of the call, funding of more than € 10 million will be distributed between 14 of the 88 projects submitted.

MAESTRO’s projects are often interdisciplinary in nature. A fine example is the research initiative by professor Tomasz Ważny of Nicolaus Copernicus University on dating prehistory and verifying history using dendrochronology in the studies of Southern-Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. The Toruń researchers will use methodologies from archaeology, history, geography, climatology, forestry etc. to compile a “biological archive,” a stock of incremental chronologies to be set against conventionally dated historical events. The research has received funding of ca. € 719 000.

The HARMONIA funding opportunity is a call for research projects to be carried out in international collaboration. The collaboration may have the form of a direct agreement between research institutions, participation in a bi- or multilateral international programme, or the use by Polish research groups of large-scale international research facilities. The eighth edition saw 196 projects, of which 51 will receive funding in excess of € 9.6 million.

One of the proposals awarded in HARMONIA 8 is the project by dr hab. Paweł Lisowski of the Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Polish Academy of Sciences. The Poles will collaborate with the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine, to study a genetic predisposition to develop rare neurodevelopmental disorders. Their work will be supported with almost € 360 000.

SONATA BIS is a call for research projects that entail establishing new research teams. The principal investigator in the newly formed research unit may be a person with a doctorate degree obtained within 2 to 12 years before submitting the research proposal. Funding of ca. € 34.4 million will be distributed among 96 of the 388 projects submitted in the call.

One of the new teams established under the SONATA BIS 6 scheme will be led by dr Michał Drahus of Jagiellonian University. Astronomers from Krakow will analyse the spontaneous disintegration of small bodies in the Solar System, such as comets and planetoids. The research, which has received over € 431000 in funding, will use the world’s top-class telescopes.

Ranking lists of the projects approved for funding