STSM are exchange visits to support individual mobility, strengthen existing networks and foster collaboration between COST Action Participants. A STSM should specifically contribute to the scientific objectives of the COST Action, whilst simultaneously allowing those partaking in the missions to learn new techniques, gain access to specific data, instruments and/or methods not available in their own institutions.

Within NECTAR, STSM are one of the networking tools to achieve the scopes of the Action, which are to create a network based on the stimulating collaboration between research groups, to promote knowledge exchange, and to achieve high technological progress in the field of the thermodynamic study of chemical equilibria.

STSM applicants shall be engaged in an official research programme as a PhD Student or postdoctoral fellow or can be employed by, or affiliated to, an institution, organisation or legal entity which has within its remit a clear association with performing research. The institutions / organisation or legal entity where applicants pursue their main strand of research are considered as Home Institutions. The Host Institution is the institution / organisation that will host the successful applicant.

The following table shows the scenarios available to eligible STSM applicants:

Current COST Members: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, The Netherlands, The Republic of North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom.
Cooperating Member: Israel
Partner Member: South Africa
NNC (Near Neighbour Countries): States that can benefit from dedicated support that enables participation in COST Action activities. Current NNC in NECTAR is Ukraine.
IPC (International Partner Countries): States that are neither COST Members nor COST Near Neighbour Countries.

Eligible STSM applicants shall submit their STSM applications online at this web address. Applicants must register to get a personal profile. The main procedures/regulations concerning STSM are governed by the COST Vademecum, in particular those described in Section 8. Please read this section prior to preparing your STSM application. Applicants can also refer to the STSM User guide. Updated versions of the documents can be found here.

The following information is needed for the on-line application form:
i. Action number (CA18202);
ii. Title of the planned STSM;
iii. Start and end dates of the STSM;
iv. Motivation and Workplan;
v. Applicant’s bank details;
vi. Host institution details;
vii. Requested budget.

The field “Motivation and Workplan summary” should contain the following information (max 2000 words)

1. Aim & Motivation - Please explain the scientific and/or other motivation for the STSM and what scientific and/or other outcomes you aim to accomplish with the STSM. Please include in this section a brief description of the scientific context into which the activities are to be performed (e.g. state of the art of that specific field of study etc.);
2. Proposed contribution to the scientific objectives of the Action. Please include how the planned activities will contribute to the plan of one or more WG(s) of the Action;
3. Techniques - Please detail what techniques or equipment you may learn to use, if applicable. Please underline the aspects of complementarity between expertise and instrumentation of the home and hosting institution/research groups;
4. Planning - Please detail the steps you will take to achieve your proposed aim.

Applicants are requested to present a Workplan summary reasonably feasible and coherent with the time slot reported in the application.

A CV should be submitted, drafted preferably in Europass format (max. 3 pages). A list of academic publications can be added in separate pages.

Prior to this submission, it is the responsibility of the applicant to obtain a written agreement from the Host institution stating that the applicant may perform the activities detailed in the STSM work plan on the agreed dates. The letter must be dated back not more than 3 months, and must be signed by a permanent staff representative of the Host institution (e.g. head of the research group, PI, director of the department, head of the institute/division etc.).

Applicants that are not appointed to either permanent or tenure-track positions (i.e. Ph.D. students or Post-docs) are required to obtain a letter of support from their home institution for their application to STSM within this Action. A brief description of the motivation for support should be provided. The letter must be dated back not more than 3 months, and must be signed by a permanent staff representative of the home institution (e.g. Ph.D. supervisor, head of the research group, PI, director of the department, head of the institute/division etc.).

At least one call for application per year will be launched (in general in the spring/early summer in coincidence with the beginning of the Grant Period). Additional calls will be launched as a function of the funding made available for further STSM along the Grant Period.

Potential applicants are encouraged to check periodically the NECTAR website and get news from our social network profiles to be promptly informed on open calls.

i. They shall have a minimum duration of 5 calendar days that includes travel.
ii. Maximum duration of the STSM may vary, and details are given in the Call for application.
iii.STSM need to be carried out in their entirety within a single Grant Period and always within the Action’s lifetime.

The COST Association and the Grant Holder of the Action cannot be considered as being an STSM grantee’s employer. STSM grantees shall make their own arrangements for all provisions related to personal security, health, taxation, social security and pension matters.

An STSM Grant is a fixed financial contribution which takes into consideration the budget request of the applicant and the outcome of the evaluation of the STSM application. STSM Grants do not necessarily cover all expenses related to undertaking a given mission. A STSM Grant is a contribution to the overall travel, accommodation and meal expenses of the Grantee.

The financial contribution to STSM may vary, and details are given in the Call for application. In any case, the calculation of the financial contribution for each STSM shall respect the following criteria, which are established by COST:
i. Up to a maximum of EUR 3 500 in total can be afforded to each successful applicant.
ii. Up to a maximum of EUR 160 per day can be afforded for accommodation and meal expenses.

The Action Chair (or Vice-Chair if the Action Chair is affiliated to the Grant Holder Institution) and / or the appointed STSM Coordinator / Committee reserve the right to negotiate with the applicants the financial contribution prior to STSM approval. In particular, but not only, differentiated country rates to cover accommodation and meal expenses based on the perceived cost of living in the host country can be considered in the negotiation process.

Specific provisions have been introduced to enable researchers from ITC participating in the COST Action to request a pre-payment of 50% of their STSM Grant when they complete the first day of their STSM. In such case, the representative of the Host Institution shall confirm by e-mail to the Grant Holder that the STSM applicant has officially started the mission on day 1. Only then the Grant Holder can arrange the payment of 50% of the STSM grant. The remaining 50% of the Grant is payable once the administrative requirements have been satisfied after the STSM.

The evaluation of each received STSM application is performed under the monitoring of the Action Management Committee. Details on the Selection committee and Applications assessment and communication of results of the evaluation are given in the Call for application.

General criteria for evaluation of STSM proposals are:

- Priority to STSM applications of PhD students or ECI;
- Priority to applicants from ITCs;
- Gender balance;
- Evaluation of the Motivation and Workplan summary;
- Curriculum Vitae

The selection of successful STSM applicants shall be done so in consideration of the scientific scope of the proposed mission and how the mission can support the Action in achieving its scientific objectives. There should be special considerations made by the Action MC with respect to supporting COST policies on promoting gender balance, enabling Early Career Investigators (ECI), broadening geographical inclusiveness.

Based on the evaluation of the Selection committee, the Action Chair will notify the Grant Holder on evaluation results. The Grant Holder will inform each approved applicant by sending a Grant Letter generated from e-COST. The applicant must return this letter of acceptance with his/her signature.

The STSM Grantee has 30 calendar days from the end date of the mission to submit a scientific report to the STSM Coordinator and to a senior researcher affiliated to the Host Institution.
Payment of the Grant is subject to a STSM scientific report being approved on behalf of the Action’s MC by the Action Chair or the STSM Coordinator, and by a senior researcher affiliated to the Host Institution.

Failure to submit the scientific report and Host acceptance within 30 days from the end date of the STSM will effectively cancel the Grant.
(Please note that the COST Association can request additional information to substantiate the information contained within the documents submitted by STSM applicants).

STSM contacts
Prof. Matteo Tegoni - CA18202 STSM Coordinator
Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences, and Environmental Sustainability
University of Parma
Parco Area delle Scienze 17A
43123 Parma

Dr. Sofia Gama - CA18202 Action Vice-Chair
Department of Analytical Chemistry
Faculty of Chemistry
University of Białystok
ul. Ciołkowskiego 1K
15-245 Białystok

Grant Period 1 (2 October 2019 – 30 April 2020)
STSM Call 1 – Deadline for applications: November 30, 2019

Grant Period 2 (1 May 2020 – 30 April 2021)
STSM Call 2 – Deadline for applications: August 15, 2020

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