Maximizing the chances of success for calls for proposals: SAAP's missions


With 18 ERC laureates out of 124 French winners, PSL is the university with the highest success rate in this field of excellence. Since May 2018, PSL has created the SAAP (Service d'appui aux appels à projets), a Mutualized Support Service run by the ENS. Interview with Damien Vogel, head of the ENS research partnership department, and leader of the project whose mission is to support research project applications, improve success rates and coordinate efforts.

Drapeau union européenne

PSL: You manage the SAAP, a support service for calls for proposals, set up since May 2018 within PSL. Could you briefly present the missions and operations?

The service operates in a collaborative mode. It carries out monitoring, detection and training missions and contributes to the setting up of relay projects with the teams of the institutions.

D. Vogel: SAAP is a shared support service (SMS) provided by the ENS Research Partnership Service. It answers an initial need, both simple and essential: to share, within the university, certain recurring actions specific to research partnership services or entities in order to save time and efficiency.
SAAP thus operates in a collaborative mode. It is composed of eight agents from the ENS, PSL, ENSCP, Dauphine and CNRS at various times and should soon be reinforced by the teams at Observatoire de Paris. Each of them carries out monitoring and training missions and contributes to the setting up of relay projects with the teams of the institutions. The service is not intended to replace the local service of the institutions. On the contrary, it aims to preserve the close relationship between researchers and the partnership service of their institution.
It works quite well, because it is a logical coordination. PSL has an exceptional pool of skilled profiles, for example an archaeologist from the ENS working with a member of the EnsAD... The department's mission is to rely on these collaborations to seize funding and project development opportunities.

PSL: What are the training courses organized by SAAP and who can participate?

Each call for proposals for research projects or programs, whether European or national, requires analytical work to understand its ins and outs.

D. Vogel: We organize training courses on the various European and national calls for proposals, matching our four main areas of work: the ERC calls for proposals, the Marie Slodowska Curie Actions program calls for proposals (Horizon 2020 call for mobility and training), collaborative proposals (Horizon 2020 calls, Ile de France etc...), the ANR calls for proposals (AAPG, SFRI, IDEES).
Each call for funding for research projects or programs, whether European or national, requires analytical work to understand its ins and outs. More than a communication by email, the days or half-days of classroom training are privileged moments to share with researchers our understanding of the calls, and also to allow them to meet expert evaluators or former winners. These training courses are often co-organized with the contact persons within the State Secretary, or with academic partners (European national contact points for example).
Our objective is: at the end of the training, each participant should have most of the required administrative and scientific information and feel able to send application. Some training courses are given in small groups and are limited to SAAP members.
On the other hand, all those organized in partnership with the national contact points are open to everyone. It is even common for researchers from other universities to join. Moreover, from the beginning of the 2019 academic year, we will try to expand these actions in order to take full advantage of the last year of the H2020 program, for which the funding budgets will be larger than in previous years. Our objective is to send the best possible applications, particularly for humanities and social sciences projects.

28 juin 2019 : The "EIC - FET" meetings at PSL: From Horizon 2020 to Horizon Europe

PSL: The European Commission launches Horizon Europe, the new European research funding program. What are the main standards?

D.Vogel: It is still a little early to give an opinion on the final architecture. 2019 and 2020 will be years of reviews and the lessons of the Horizon 2020 program are not yet definitive. To date, it would appear that budgets will be increased and the ERC and Marie Curie programs will be maintained. This is very good news for PSL, which is very involved in these actions. We can add the prefiguration of an ERC of innovation led by the brand new European Innovation Council (CEI) whose creation was strongly supported by France.

PSL: How can SAAP support researchers who want to apply to new calls for proposals?

D. Vogel: Exactly in the same format as today. We will continue to actively participate in national thematic debate groups on European calls and national contact points to make our voice heard and share our feedback on previous editions of the calls. In parallel, we continue to collect and disseminate information in our networks and to laboratories.
To answer more precisely on the main milestones for the 2019 academic year, here are some dates to remember:

  • Applications for ERC Synergy on November 5, 2020
  • Filing of SFRI calls (including graduated programs): in January 2020
  • Applications for collaborative projects in the humanities and social sciences in March 2020
  • Applications for ERC Starting grants applications on 16 November 2020

PSL: In 2018, the PSL University counted 18 ERC laureates out of 64 in Ile de France, so it is ranked first in this field. As a member of the ERC National Contact Point (PCN-ERC) and SAAP Service Manager, how do you see this result?

D. Vogel: It's a very nice result! In particular, the figure does not say that among the 18 winners are several projects in the humanities and social sciences. For example, the projects of: Claire Zalc (CNRS) for the ERC Consolidator, Philippe Pain (EPHE Director of Studies) for the ERC Advanced and the project called "The Domestication of' Hindu Asceticism and the Religious Making of South and Southeast Asia", led by two EHESS researchers and the EFEO, winner of the ERC Synergy funding.
This is a collective achievement for all the institutions that make up PSL. In addition, the highly motivating approach of the teams of the CNRS Paris Centre Delegation to improve, in particular, the success rate of SHS projects in response to European calls has given us a strong boost. The work seems to have borne fruit and we hope to continue to build on this momentum for years to come.

ERC 2018 (news item by AEF on free access)

The PSL support service for calls for proposals

The service is available to researchers, research professors and heads of Europe, HR and Finance services in the university.
Providing administrative and financial technical support, SAAP offers expertise adapted to respond to calls for proposals from the European Commission, the ANR or the IDF.
Contact :