Second Call for Dioscuri Centres of Scientific Excellence in Poland


Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG) and National Science Centre Poland (NCN) open the second call for Dioscuri Centres of Scientific Excellence in Poland.

Dioscuri is a programme devised by MPG to support the development of lighthouses of scientific excellence in Central and Eastern Europe by promoting outstanding researchers who want to conduct their research in this region. Following a bottom-up and sustainable approach, it strives to establish future-oriented research fields and international standards of scientific quality. Dioscuri serves to strengthen the European Research Area as a whole and to expand the foundations for long-term economic and social prosperity in Europe.

The joint calls by MPG and NCN are designed to establish Centres of Scientific Excellence at Polish Host Institutions. Going beyond the scope of a project grant, a Dioscuri Centre (DC) is built around a distinguished researcher position. It is awarded to excellent scientists capable of establishing and leading an outstanding, highly visible research group. A DC shall connect the local research landscape to the wider scientific community while simultaneously positioning the leader of the DC in the respective field. These efforts will be supported by Partners from German universities or research institutions. Partners will promote the Centres’ structural development and integration in scientific networks, thereby strengthening scientific exchange between Poland and Germany. Each DC may also decide to expand this partnership tool and turn it into an Advisory Board.

DCs are expected to conduct top-class internationally competitive and innovative research. Each of them will be funded with up to € 300,000 p.a., initially for five years. This amount will be part of a larger package involving supplementary funds, infrastructure, scientific equipment, and a long-term perspective for the leader of the DC at the respective Host Institution (to be arranged individually between selected candidates and their Host Institutions). This will put the DCs in a position to attract additional funding from NCN and other Polish or European/international sources.

Applicants are asked to provide a concept for the DC they plan to establish, which includes an innovative research programme as well as an outline for the DC’s structural development.

In the second call, up to a total of four DCs will be established in the fields of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Life Sciences and Natural Sciences and Technology.

Each DC established through this call will be monitored and evaluated by the Dioscuri Scientific Committee, and will be awarded the title of

Dioscuri Centre of Scientific Excellence

A programme initiated by the Max Planck Society, jointly managed with the National Science Centre in Poland, and mutually funded by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MNiSW) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

1. Dioscuri Centres (DCs) may be established in all Scientific Disciplines, including especially

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Culture
  • Fundamental questions of human existence and the nature of reality
  • Human nature and human society
  • Individuals, institutions, markets
  • Norms and governance
  • The study of the human past

Life Sciences

  • Applied life sciences and biotechnology
  • Biology of tissues, organs and organisms
  • Cellular and developmental biology
  • Diagnostic tools, therapies and public health
  • Evolutionary and environmental biology
  • Genetics, genomics
  • Human and animal immunology and infection
  • Human and animal non-infectious diseases
  • Molecular biology, structural biology, biotechnology

Natural Sciences and Technology

  • Astronomy and space research
  • Computer science and informatics
  • Condensed matter physics
  • Earth sciences
  • Fundamental constituents of matter
  • Materials and synthesis
  • Mathematics
  • Physical and analytical chemical sciences
  • Products and processes engineering
  • Systems and communication engineering

2. The call is directed at internationally competitive and scientifically outstanding scientists who have proven their ability to conduct innovative research independently and:

  1. who completed their PhD no longer than 15 years prior to the application deadline [1].
  2. who have proven their international mobility over the course of their scientific career, e.g., who pursued their PhD and post-doc at different research institutions (at least one of them outside Poland).
  3. who have not been employed at the Host Institution on a contract of employment during the last two years prior to the application deadline.
  4. whose work will be accompanied by a Partner employed by a German university or research institution.

3. Only Polish research organisations and university research centres established within a single university structure are eligible [2] as Host Institutions.

The Host Institution must declare to:

  1. sign a contract of full-time employment with the leader of the DC for the entire funding period;
  2. sign contracts with DC personnel: the form of employment is to be agreed upon by all parties (contract of employment, contract of specific task, contract of mandate; stipend);
  3. provide from its own budget additional funding for the DC in the amount of at least € 25,000 on average per year for the entire funding period;
  4. provide the DC with optimal conditions for carrying out its research, including office/laboratory space and research equipment necessary for the completion of the research;
  5. provide administrative and financial services and support to the DC, including support related to the successful applicant’s relocation (if applicable) and stay in Poland;
  6. provide at its own expense a full-time English-speaking administrative employee exclusively for the DC for the entire funding period;
  7. offer a long-term perspective to the leader of the DC beyond the Dioscuri funding period. This includes a commitment to create a permanent position at the end of the funding period for which the leader of the DC will be eligible to apply.

4. The application must be submitted via online application until 20 March 2019

  1. Applications are made up of an application form, a short concept and a full concept and are subject to a formal eligibility check and peer review.
  2. The eligibility check is carried out by MPG and NCN.
  3. Applications must be submitted online:

5. The Dioscuri Committee is responsible for the overall evaluation and selection process.

  1. The review of all eligible applications is based solely on the scientific merit of the applicants and the quality of their research concept. All decisions made by the Dioscuri Committee are binding collective decisions.
  2. In a first stage, the Committee reviews all eligible applications and selects up to around 15 applications based on short concepts.
  3. In the second stage, the remaining applications are subject to external peer review based on full concepts. The Dioscuri Committee subsequently selects up to around 6 applicants for final interviews.
  4. In the third stage, applicants selected in the previous stage are invited for final interviews.

6. Rules for financing a Dioscuri Centre of Scientific Excellence include [3]:

  1. The funding period for each DC comprises five years beginning from the date of the establishment of the respective DC.
  2. The budget of each DC transferred to the respective Host Institution will be up to € 300,000 per year.
  3. Upon positive evaluation of a DC during its fourth year and subject to the availability of funding, the respective DC may be extended for another five years.
  4. Relocation costs for the leader of the DC (in case she/he needs to move to the city where the DC is established) shall be covered in a single lump-sum payment derived from the first annual contribution of the HI. The amount of the lump-sum payment is dependent on the current residency of the DC leader and the number of family members accompanying her/him to Poland [4].
  5. Eligible costs from the DC budget (including the additional budget provided by the Host Institution as specified in 3c):
    1. Salary of the leader of the DC: € 100,000 per year
    2. Salaries of the DC research team and scholarships (scholarships according to NCN regulations)
    3. Costs related to the research conducted at the DC (consumables, travel, publications, outreach activities etc.)
    4. Costs of joint activities with the Partner from Germany
  6. The DC budget (including the additional budget provided by the Host Institution as specified in 3c) cannot be used for expenses relating to:
    1. Infrastructure
    2. Scientific equipment [5]
    3. Administration and overheads [6]

    Such costs must be provided for fully by the Host Institution.

  7. The leader of the DC will be eligible and encouraged to apply for additional funding from NCN and other Polish or European/international sources.


[1] Female applicants can add 18 months for each child, male applicants can add the number of months of parental leave if applicable.

[2] As specified in Article 27, section 1, Point 1), Act on the National Science Centre of 3o April 2010 (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 947 as amended).

[3] Public Aid is not allowed in this call.

[4] Relocation costs will be covered in the amount of:
i. Leader of the DC currently living in Poland: € 2,000 (spouse or civil partner: + € 500; per child + € 250);
ii. Leader of the DC currently living in other European Countries* : € 4,000 (spouse or civil partner: + € 1,000; per child + € 500);
iii Leader of the DC currently living in non-European Countries: € 8,000 (spouse or civil partner: + € 2,000; per child + € 1,000).
*European countries include: EU member states (including the UK), Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, the Holy See, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, FYR Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, Moldova, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine.

[5] Research equipment understood (in accordance with the definition by the Central Statistical Office of Poland, GUS) as sets of testing, measurement and laboratory apparatuses of limited application and high technical parameters (usually several orders of magnitude higher than typical apparatus used for production or utilisation purposes), which constitutes the tangible assets of the host institution, according to the accounting policies adopted by it. Small devices that cost up to € 2,500 per item may be paid from the DC budget (up to a total of € 10,000 p.a.).

[6] Salaries of the administrative and financial staff (performing services related to personnel, accounting, legal issues, including the outsourcing of accounting to an accountancy office), costs of renovation of facilities, costs of adapting/upgrading facilities, so that they can meet the needs of the research tasks, fees and rent for the use of facilities, property taxes, etc., utilities (cost of electricity, heating, heating gas, water, as well as other transmission fees, sewage, etc.), costs of cleaning, janitorial and security services to facilities, cost of non-life insurance, handling and administrative fees, cost of banking services, including opening a separate account for the grant, bank fees, costs of external audits.

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