To respond to the rising need of digital tools in the context of the pandemic and to ensure continuity of COST Actions’ work activities, the COST Association has launched a new tool called Virtual Mobility (VM) Grants. The purpose of the VM grant is to support capacity building and research coordination objectives of the Action through virtual collaboration. VM Grants will strengthen the existing a-STEP network by allowing individual participants to foster collaboration, to exchange knowledge, and learn new techniques/methodologies, etc.
A Virtual Networking Support (VNS) manager (Ms. Gretta FitzGerald) has recently been appointed to the a-STEP Action. The VNS manager will promote virtual collaboration, such as developing a virtual networking strategy for the Action, taking overall responsibility for VM Grants and supporting the a- STEP action in the discussions and planning of virtual events and collaboration activities.
There are 6 VM grants available for the remainder of Grant Period 1 ending 31st October 2021.
In order to apply for a a-STEP Virtual Mobility Grant, the following criteria must be fulfilled:
The VM applicant(s) are a-STEP Action members with a primary affiliation to an institution located in a COST Full or Cooperating Member country or MC Observers from a COST Near Neighbour Country.
All Action participants, including those with a leadership role in the Action, are eligible to apply for a VM grant.
STSM and ITC Grant Grantees can apply for VM grants, but the grants cannot run in parallel.
If there are two applicants for a specific virtual collaboration, there should be two individual
Applications must be submitted through the e-COST platform. (Application Form Template).
Up to a maximum of EUR 1,500 in total can be afforded to each successful VM applicant.
The payment of the grant is made to the grantee once the grantee’s report is approved by the Co-Chairs and VNS Manager (on behalf of the MC). The report must be submitted by the 15th October (i.e. no later than 15 days from the end of Grant Period). (Report Template)
As this is a grant, submission of receipts is not a requirement.
The grantee estimates the grant amount (maximum EUR 1,500) and can consider the following:
duration of activity (no minimum duration), complexity of activity, if data is to be processed, number of contributors etc
The grant is paid to the applicant who submits the application on e-COST.
The format for VM Grants is flexible and applications should propose a specific activity or activities that do not necessarily require in-person presence but are collaborative in nature (i.e. working with other a-STEP Action participants).
The VM Grant applications should contribute to the stated Research Coordination and Capacity Building objectives of a-STEP MOU (https://www.cost.eu/actions/CA19104/) and/or the stated WG (1-4) objectives or deliverables (See a-STEP website).
Suggested activities expected to be performed by the successful applicant, but not limited to, are to:
Support the harmonisation and standardisation of methods and procedures within a-STEP
Collaborative virtual research related activities, or content preparation
Coordination of science communication activities
Virtual tools/activities used should be appropriate to encourage interaction between a-STEP members or to answer a specific question that would benefit the a-STEP Action. E.g.
Online events/discussions to increase participation and support collaboration activities and knowledge exchange, especially of ECI and International Inclusiveness Countries (ITCs)
Surveys / Focus groups
Virtual mentoring scheme to generate capacity building and new skills, particularly for ECIs
The evaluation of the VM applications and selection of VM Grantees is performed by the a-STEP Action’s Co-Chairs and VNS Manager on behalf of the MC.
Evaluation of applications received will be on a rolling basis. Those applications of a high standard and that meet the criteria will be approved.
The selection of VM grants will consider the diversity of areas covered in the a-STEP objectives of the Working Groups and the differences among members expertise (i.e., from experienced researchers to early-career investigators).
Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
o Objective of VM Grant
o Description of collaborative initiative to be implemented o Plan for participant involvement in collaborative initiative
o Expected outputs/contribution/benefits towards a-STEP Action objectives and deliverables (either research coordination and/or capacity building objectives)
o Appropriate consideration of the inclusiveness Policy (geographical inclusiveness, gender balance and ECIs), especially towards the support of researchers in ITCs and NNCs. (See page 17 of “Guidelines for COST Action Management, Monitoring and Final Assessment” for description of the pillars of the Cost Excellence and Inclusiveness policy.
Rolling Call Opens: Wednesday 1st September, 2021
Final Deadline: 26th September 2021, 17.00. Note: If 6 VM grants are awarded before the 26th September, the call will be closed.
Rolling. If an application is of high standard and meets the criteria, applicant will be notified. Final notification to all applicants will be 1 week after final deadline.
Please use the online form available via your e-COST profile at https://eservices.cost.eu. A link to the ‘Virtual Mobility Grant’ application form is available under the Virtual Networking Tools. (VM grant application template).
For more information on the VM Grant Application Process please contact Gretta FitzGerald, VNS Manager (email@example.com)
Additional information can be found in the Vademecum (Section 10.2). Please consult the COST Virtual Networking Tools User Guide for additional information on the submission process on eCOST. The Virtual Networking Tools FAQ may also be of use.