Planning your researcher career

There are numerous ways to obtain funding for early-career research and research stays abroad. Below are a few pointers on various aspects of career planning. There are many other opportunities as well, but these can be helpful in getting started.

Individual fellowships, international research collaboration and networking, as well as access to international research institutions and facilities – it is all part of ambitious career planning.
  • Personal Overseas Research Grants are for doctoral and post-doctoral fellows participating in projects funded by the Research Council. The grant provides funding for research stays abroad lasting from three to 12 months. The Project Owner must be a Norwegian institution that seeks funding on behalf of the research fellow. The grant may only be awarded to projects allocated Research Council funding under a call from 2017 or later.
  • FRIPRO mobility grants are for young researchers at an early stage in their careers, who have recently defended, or will soon defend, a doctoral dissertation. The grant is for three years in total, of which two are to be spent at an institution abroad.
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) is a part of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020. It provides a number of opportunities at the doctoral and post-doctoral levels. Doctoral fellows are eligible for funding for a period of up to three years among Europe’s top research groups. Post-doctoral fellows can apply for funding to travel to top research groups anywhere in the world. Research infrastructures of foremost quality often provide the foundation for outstanding research. The EU pays for user time and travel and living expenses for stays at Europe’s top facilities.


For researchers seeking to enhance their careers by taking part in an EU-funded project, an international network is a must. There are many ways to develop your network from the outset of your researcher training.

One possibility is for you to bring your project and project funding into a collaboration with other researchers whose projects are relevant to your field.

The European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) provides opportunities for multinational scientific cooperation which can subsequently pave the way for consortia for international research projects.

The Research Council recommends obtaining international experience early on in your research career, for instance through funding available via Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) or the FRIPRO scheme for independent projects.

This will put you in a much stronger position to compete for future research funding through the open competitive funding arenas. These are the FRIPRO scheme for independent projects at the Research Council and the European Research Council (ERC) in the EU Framework programme.

See: Participate in international networks.

Career track

The illustration below shows the funding opportunities available through the open competitive arenas that you should apply for if you are planning to pursue a research career at the very top.

MSCA funding and/or FRIPRO mobility grants provide an excellent start as they provide early international experience and look good on your resumé.

International experience makes you stronger in the competition for ERC funding allocations.

Participating in an international network increases your likelihood of being included in an application to EU Framework Programmes, where multinational participation is required.

The ERC has three different funding schemes you can apply for at different stages in your career. These grants provide large-scale funding and are highly prestigious, and signify that you are among the top researchers in Europe in your field and at your specified career level – Starting, Consolidator or Advanced.

Apply to multiple funding schemes

Both the Research Council and the EU have funding schemes targeted towards talented early-career researchers, researchers who are in the process of establishing independent research careers and very experienced researchers.

We recommend that you consider applying for both Research Council and EU funding. This will increase your chances of winning funding, and project proposals can often be reworked and adapted for submission to both sources.

Remember that you can ask for help and advice at any time. Don’t hesitate to contact the Research Council’s contact persons.