FAQ – Western Balkans Mobility Scheme Call for Applications

This page serves as a living source of information for applicants to answer their additional questions related to the Call for Applications. In the first section, please find general questions and answers that can be found also in the Guide for Applicants. In the second part, we will list all the questions we receive from the applicants with our respective answers, to provide equal opportunities for everyone.

General information for applicants

What is the main objective of the POLICY ANSWERS project?

Funded within Horizon Europe, the project entitled POLICY ANSWERS – R&I POLICY making, implementation ANd Support in the WEsteRn BalkanS (https://www.westernbalkans-infohub.eu/about/) was launched on 1 March 2022. Positioned well in line with the EU’s Western Balkans (WB) Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (WB Innovation Agenda), POLICY ANSWER monitors and supports policy coordination within the EU-WB cooperation, but also provides capacity building and pilot actions in the WB to contribute to the region’s EU integration process and to strengthen their innovation ecosystems.

What is the Western Balkans Mobility Scheme (WBMS)?

This pilot regional mobility scheme launched by POLICY ANSWERS has a call budget of EUR 100,000. It should build the foundation for a follow-up measure to be funded by regional, economy-level or international stakeholders. The aim of this scheme is to enhance regional cooperation and sustained support in mobility-driven R&I and – by fostering the interconnectedness of the WB – to support sustainable economic growth, a common regional market, societal resilience and convergence of the WB with the EU. Enhanced cooperation and sustained support in mobility-driven R&I are also pivotal for equipping the WB with the requisite tools and knowledge to address shared challenges, such as climate change and digital transformation, while fostering a generation of innovators who can reshape the region’s future.

Who is eligible to participate in the WBMS?

Only early-career researchers (ECR) affiliated to a research institution from one of the six Western Balkan economies are eligible within the WBMS. These economies are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo[1], Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

What research topics are eligible for funding within the WBMS?

In order to boost the regional cooperation all thematic research areas are eligible (including Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and arts-based research). Applications that address the twin transition (green and digital) of the WB and priorities mentioned in research strategies of economies resp. S3 strategies are particularly welcome. The project must have a civilian purpose.

Are the WBMS applications similar to Horizon Europe applications?

No, in no way. The application process is much simpler and will be implemented as one-stage procedure. In order to lessen the efforts for applicants and to reflect the limited funding sum of about EUR 5,000 per project, all data will be inserted by the applicant in an online form. No additional project description has to be uploaded. The inserted data covering the project description are limited to around 12.000 characters (including blanks, this would result in about four usual pages).

How do I submit a proposal?

Please visit https://ptoutline.eu/app/wbms and sign up to the WBMS call management system. During your registration, you will be asked for your e-mail address, which will be used as your login. Your password will be sent to the e-mail address you provided. The password is case-sensitive and cannot be changed by you. When you return to the login page, you can log in and start using the application. All forms are interactive. Please save each page before proceeding to the next. Please use only English characters since non-English characters, such as č, ć, š, đ and ž may not be displayed correctly in the final application.

What are the eligibility criteria?

The eligibility criteria for the applicant, the application as such and the requested costs are provided in the WBMS call text which you can access at https://www.westernbalkans-infohub.eu/calls/western-balkans-mobility-scheme/.

Which costs are eligible?

Eligible costs are supported by:

an “allowance unit cost” of EUR 75 per day of the stay – resulting in EUR 2,250 per month (30 days) – to compensate for all travel costs and living allowances of the recipient (including cost for visa etc.);

any cost that occurs at the host institution like accession fees, consumables etc.;

costs for exploitation of project results (visibility, publication of scientific article, etc.);

Costs of category (2) and (3) are accounted for as direct costs only (with VAT) that have to be actual, economic and necessary.

Health, accident and personal liability insurances for the time of mobility have to be taken out by the recipients at their own expense.

The financial support may not be used to cover costs that are already covered by other sources. The financial support is not renewable.

I’m working at an institution which is part of the POLICY ANSWERS consortium. Am I eligible?

This depends: All team members of the POLICY ANSWERS project are not eligible to apply. So, if you work e.g. at the Mihajlo Pupin Institute you are eligible as long as you are not involved in the project.

What is the deadline for the submission of applications?

In addition to the online submission procedure, should I submit a paper copy of the application?

No. Only electronic submissions will be considered. However, please note that after submission of your application in PT-Outline, please remember that there is still one task to do in order to apply successfully for a WBMS project: The cover pages of the application must be printed, signed by the early-career researcher as well as by the counsellor, scanned and send as pdf-file to calls-europe@dlr.de.

Do I need the legal representatives of the home or host institution to sign the WBMS application?

No, we tried to make the application procedures as simple and hassle-free as possible. So, it is only the early-career researcher as applicant and the counsellor to sign the first page of the application form. But please note, that for the contract negotiations we will need the signature of the legal representatives from the home and the host institution on Letters of Confirmation which will be part of the financial support contract.

Can I submit more than one application?

No, each applicant is only allowed to submit one application. This limitation is made in order to ensure that all applications submitted could be implemented as applied. It could not be expected that the early career researcher is able to implement more than one project in the provided very short implementation period.

What does it mean that the maximum requested budget must not exceed EUR 5,000?

EUR 5,000 is the maximum amount of funding per project that can be provided from the WBMS budget. However, there is no limit on the total costs for the project’s implementation, meaning that contributions from other sources can be used to make up the total project budget.

What are the review criteria for the WBMS applications?

The review criteria are outlined in the in the WBMS call text which you can access at https://www.westernbalkans-infohub.eu/calls/western-balkans-mobility-scheme/.

Is it allowed to visit more than one research infrastructure?

No, this would complicate the administrative procedures and the overall structure of the WBMS project.

Is it allowed to visit the same research infrastructure several times in the curse of the project?

Yes, if this is necessary to reach the aims of the WBMS project then this is allowed.

Is it allowed to visit research infrastructures in more than one other economy?

No, this would complicate the administrative procedures and the overall structure of the WBMS project.

Is it relevant for this scheme in which economy I was born?

No, it is relevant in which economy the home institution is located to which you are affiliated to.

Is it allowed to have more than one grantee in a project?

No, each project has to be implemented by one early-career researcher only.

How many applications will be funded?

Since the call budget is around EUR 100,000 and the maximum funding sum EUR 5,000 we expect to fund around 20 WBMS projects.

What are the main regulations laid down in the financial support contract?

In the annex you find the current draft of the financial support contract, which we provided for transparency reasons already in this guide. Please note, that this is only a draft and subject to changes.

Do I have to upload any attachments to the application?

Yes, it is mandatory to upload the CVs of the early-career researcher and the counsellor (the counterpart at the host institution) in EUROPASS format before submitting the application.

Answers related to questions coming from prospective applicants

Q: I have problems with viewing the guidelines, it seems there is a page missing in the PDF. Could you confirm how many pages there should be?

A: The guide has 20 pages overall. We recommend always to download the documents as in the online preview some information might be missing due to the browser or a PDF viewing platform that might be causing certain pages not to display.

Q: I am writing to inquire about the project team size and composition requirements . In reviewing the call documentation, I could not find any information regarding the number of team members required for the project, nor any specifics regarding the proportion of team members from home and host institutions.

A: The scheme is a mobility measure addressing only one person, which is the early-career researcher (ECR). In addition a contact person at the host institution is involved: The counsellor. But money goes only to the ECR. So, there is neither a team nor a consortium.

Q: I would like to inquire whether it is permissible to apply to write a scientific paper based on my doctoral research, with knowledge transfer from an university in the WB. The process would involve drafting the scientific paper and preparing it for publication, enriching it with insights from research conducted in the university in the WB. This pertains to new application models that have not been applied in our region before. Would this approach be in line with the requirements of the call for applications?

A: Well, the aim of the WBMS is to support (new) mobility. In case you would apply for a new stay at the university of Belgrade and you would then use these results (maybe together with the ones from former visits if you like) to write a scientific paper, this would be eligible. But please note, that only costs (e.g. for publishing of the scientific papers) that occur during the project lifetime could be financed by the project.

Q: I am a prospective applicant for the Western Balkans Mobility Scheme – POLICY ANSWERS. I would like to ask regarding the eligibility criteria – particularly for the early career researchers. Being a post-graduate researcher based in Albania, with 4 years of experience working on think tanks (2 years after completion of my Master’s Degree), I was wondering whether if am eligible to apply for this call.

A: Unfortunately only PhD students and Postdocs, whose doctorate was awarded no longer than seven years before the deadline of this call, are eligible as applicants. According to what you wrote you seem to be belong to none of these groups.

Q: Is my home institution the faculty where I am studying?

A: If the faculty is a legal organisation then yes. In Germany the legal organisation would be the university but I’m aware that the legal structure of the universities in the WB could differ.

Q: Are only the institutions listed in the infrastructure roadmaps eligible as host institutions?

A: No, these organisations with research infrastructures listed COULD be an appropriate host organisation. You are free to select others, as long as they comply to the definition of research infrastructures as listed in the call text: “By definition, a research infrastructure is a set of facilities, resources and services that are used by the research communities to conduct research and foster innovation in their respective fields. It includes: major scientific equipment (or sets of instruments), knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives and scientific data, e-infrastructures, such as data and computing systems and communication networks and any other tools that are essential to achieve excellence in research and innovation.

Q: I intend to apply for WBMS. I am a PhD student at the University, but I am also fully employed in another scientific research institution which supports my doctoral studies. Which of these two institutions should I list as my home institution (both institutions are in the same country)?

A: In case that both possible home institutions would be eligible in the context of this call – please check the eligibility criteria in the call text – it is up to you to decide. As you might know, we would need the signature of a legal representative of the home institution when we sign the funding contract – not the application! – so maybe this could also be a criteria for you: From which institution it would be easier for you to get this signature.

Q: After reading the detailed instructions, it states that consent or signature from the home institution is required?

A: It will be required when the funding contract has to be signed. It is not required for the preparation and submission of the application.

Q: Regarding the daily cost of 75 Euros, what exactly do they include (accommodation, food, or…)?

A: This is a lump sum, which means it is up to you to spend it for whatever you like. We will not check the use of the lump sum. We will only check the correct number of days for which you claim the lump sum.

Q: I am experiencing difficulties uploading and correcting biographies on the platform. The system does not allow me to upload corrected versions of the biographies.

A: Don’t be mistaken, in case you upload a new cv, the old one will be overwritten, however, the name of the uploaded file stays the same!

Q: In the guidelines are mentioned and drafted Letters of confirmation from the home and host institutions but it is not mentioned where they need to be sent. Should they be sent along with the signed cover page of the application through email or in a later stage?

A: The letters you are referring to are not necessary for the application phase. They are needed as part of the contract in case your application would be selected for funding.

[1] This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

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