Call for Proposals for "European Research Projects on Neurodevelopmental Disorders"

1. Purpose

Maintenance, improvement and restoration of human health are of fundamental importance and worldwide priority. Biomedical and health research provide an important basis for the improvement of healthy living. Disorders of the brain are major causes of morbidity, mortality and impaired quality of life. Around one billion people suffer from disorders of the central nervous system. In Europe, disorders of the brain account for approximately one-third of the burden of all diseases. Therefore, neuroscience research and its translation into diagnostic and therapeutic outcomes are fundamental.

To address this, the 'Network of European Funding for Neuroscience Research' (NEURON) has been established under the ERA-NET scheme of the European Commission ( The aim of the ERA-NET NEURON is to co-ordinate research efforts and funding programmes of its partner countries in the field of disease related neuroscience.

Under the umbrella of NEURON, seven transnational joint calls have been launched on different topics from 2008 to 2014. The current joint transnational call (JTC-8) is now launched in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders. The following funding organizations have agreed to fund the joint call for multinational research projects in this scientific area. The call will be conducted simultaneously by the funding organizations in their respective countries and co-ordinated centrally by the Joint Call Secretariat.

  • Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS), Belgium
  • Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Belgium
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (CIHR-INMHA), Canada
  • Fonds de recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQS), Québec (Canada)
  • Academy of Finland (AKA), Finland
  • French National Research Agency (ANR), France
  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany
  • The Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNIS), Iceland
  • Chief Scientist Office, Ministry of Health (CSO-MOH), Israel
  • Ministry of Health (MOH), Italy
  • State Education Development Agency (VIAA), Latvia
  • National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR), Poland
  • Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal
  • Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI), Romania
  • Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS), Slovakia
  • Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO), Spain

2. Aim of the call

The aim of the call is to facilitate multinational, collaborative research projects that will address important questions relating to the neurodevelopmental nature of neurological and psychiatric disorders. The call will accept proposals ranging from understanding basic mechanisms of disease through proof-of-concept clinical studies in humans. These may include - without excluding others - diseases such as autism, schizophrenia, mental retardation, attention deficit disorders, foetal alcohol syndrome, epilepsy syndromes, cerebral palsy, inherited peripheral neuropathies, sensory disorders and spastic paraplegias. Disorders that manifest only with neurodegenerative features during adulthood will not be eligible for this call.

The ERA-NET NEURON funding organizations particularly wish to promote multi-disciplinary work and to encourage translational research proposals that combine basic and clinical approaches.

Research proposals should cover at least one of the following areas:

  • a) Fundamental research on the pathogenesis and/or aetiology of neurodevelopmental disorders. This may include the development of innovative or shared resources, and new technologies for the prediction, prevention or therapy of disease.
  • b) Clinical research, including the exploitation of novel clinical data sets, to develop new strategies for diagnosis, therapy, and rehabilitation procedures for diseases in which neurodevelopmental mechanisms play the key role.

The individual components of joint applications should be complementary and contain novel, ambitious ideas to answer key questions or lead to a step-wise change in understanding. There should be a clear added value in funding the collaboration over the individual projects.

Clinical studies up to the point of proof of concept are eligible for funding1.

3. Application

3.1 Eligibility

Joint transnational research proposals may be submitted by research teams working in universities (or other higher education institutions), non-university public research institutes, hospitals, as well as in commercial companies, particularly small and medium-size enterprises. The eligibility of the afore-mentioned institutions, together with details of eligible costs (e.g. personnel, material, consumables, travel money, investments), are subject to the administrative requirements of individual funding organizations and will therefore differ. Please note that, for some funding organizations, commercial companies are not eligible or are only eligible under certain conditions (e.g. only in partnership with academic institutions in the consortium). Clarification should be obtained from the individual funding agencies (see contact details below).

Only transnational projects will be funded. Each consortium submitting a proposal must be comprised of a minimum of three research groups eligible for funding by organizations listed in this call text (see above); all three groups must be from different countries. The total number of research groups in a consortium must not exceed five. Not more than two research groups can be from the same country.

Research groups not eligible to their national funding organizations or from countries which are not involved in this call may participate in projects only if their participation clearly provides an added value to the consortium and if they present evidence on secured budget for their part in the project. In any case, the total number of research groups in one consortium must not exceed five.

Each consortium should have the critical mass to achieve ambitious scientific goals and should clearly demonstrate added value from working together. Each project must nominate a project co-ordinator who represents the consortium externally and is responsible for its internal management (e.g. the application procedure, the consortium agreement, reporting). It is obligatory that the co-ordinator of a consortium is eligible to be funded by one of the organizations listed in this call text.

Although applications must be submitted jointly by groups from several countries, the individual research groups will be funded by the individual NEURON funding organization(s) of their respective countries. Eligibility criteria are the matter of individual partner funding organizations.

Therefore, applicants are strongly advised to follow the instructions contained in the country-specific eligibility tables which are published on the NEURON web site and to contact their national/regional funding organization to confirm eligibility matters before submitting an application.

3.2 Submission of joint transnational proposals

There will be a two-stage procedure for joint applications: pre-proposals and full proposals. In both cases, one joint proposal document (in English) shall be prepared by the partners of a joint transnational proposal, and must be submitted to the Joint Call Secretariat by one spokesperson, the co-ordinator.

Pre-proposals must be submitted in electronic format no later than March 09, 2015 (14:00:00 CET) via the electronic submission system.

NOTE: Full proposals will only be accepted from those applicants explicitly invited by the Joint Call Secretariat to submit them.

3.3 Further information

For further details, please refer to therespective submission forms available through the NEURON web site. If you need additional information, please contact the Joint Call Secretariat, or your funding organization representative (see Annex for contact data).

4. Evaluation and decision

The review process will be in two stages.

4.1 Formal check of proposals

The Joint Call Secretariat will assess proposals to ensure that they meet the call’s formal criteria (e.g. date of submission; number of participating countries; inclusion of all necessary information in English). The Joint Call Secretariat will also forward the proposals to the national/regional funding organizations, which will perform a formal check of compliance with their respective regulations. Proposals not meeting the formal criteria will be rejected at this stage.

The Call Steering Committee may reject proposals if they are clearly outside the scope of the call.

Proposals passing these check points will be forwarded to the joint Peer Review Panel for evaluation.

4.2 Peer-review of proposals

The reviewers will carry out the evaluation according to specific evaluation criteria:

  1. Relevance to the aim(s) of the call
  2. Scientific quality of the proposal (innovation potential, methodology)
  3. Feasibility of the project (adequacy of project work plan and related risk analysis, budgetary and other resources, time schedule)
  4. International competitiveness of participating research groups in the field(s) of the proposal (previous work in the field, expertise of the research groups)
  5. Quality of collaborative interaction between the groups, and added value, from both scientific and transnational perspectives, of the research consortium.
  6. Potential of the expected results for future clinical and other health relevant applications.

4.3 Decision

4.3.1 Pre-proposals

Eligible pre-proposals will be reviewed via a written (remote) peer review process. Based on the scores in the written reviews a ranking list will be set up. By mid May 2015, the co-ordinators of the top proposals will be invited by the Joint Call Secretariat to submit a full proposal no later than June 23, 2015, 14:00 CET.

4.3.2 Full proposals

The international Peer Review Panel will establish a ranking list of the fundable proposals by scientific assessment. Based on this ranking list the Call Steering Committee will determine the projects to be funded, taking into account the national budgets available. These recommendations will inform the final decisions which will be made by the funding agencies and will be subject to budgetary considerations.

5. Funding procedure / Responsibilities / Reporting requirements

5.1 Funding procedure

Projects can be funded for a period of up to three years and according to funding organizations’ regulations. Funding is expected to start early in 2016.

Successful research groups will be funded directly by the respective funding organizations.

Funding will be administered according to the terms and conditions of the responsible funding organizations, taking into account all other applicable regulations and legal requirements.

5.2 Responsibilities

Within a joint proposal, each group leader will be the contact person for the relevant national/regional funding organization. The co-ordinators of funded projects together with the respective funding organizations shall make every effort to seek a common start date for all research groups in the consortium.

After the evaluation and selection procedures are completed, each consortium selected to be funded is required to draft and sign a Consortium Agreement (CA) suitable to their own team. The CA will agree a common project start date, manage the delivery of project activities, finances and intellectual property rights (IPR), and avoid disputes which might be detrimental to the completion of the project. All consortia are strongly encouraged to sign the CA before the official project start date, the CA must be signed within the first six months after the project start date.

5.3 Reporting Requirements

On behalf of the research consortium, the project co-ordinator will be required to submit a brief annual scientific progress report on the project and one final report in the end, to the Joint Call Secretariat. Group leaders may be required to submit reports separately to their national funding organization; reporting guidance will be forwarded by the relevant funding organization, as applicable.

Annual reports should be submitted by April-30 the following year. Annual reports do not need to be submitted if the project ends in the first three months of the following year (i.e. between January and March). In this case, the submission of a final report will suffice. However, instead of submitting the final report within the usual six month period (see below), the final report will be required within four months of project completion.

The deadline for submitting final reports is six months after the end of the project. It is the task of the co-ordinators to determine a formal end date for project completion. This is required, as partners may be granted extensions of differing duration. Co-ordinators will be informed about this procedure by the Joint Call Secretariat and will receive the report template in due course.

The co-ordinator will be asked to present two progress reports during the intermediate and the final status symposium respectively. Group leaders will be asked to participate in the final status symposium. Travel budgets should be planned and managed accordingly.

Funding recipients must ensure that all outcomes (publications, etc.) of transnational NEURON projects include a proper acknowledgement of ERA-NET NEURON and the respective funding partner organizations, and are in line with the relevant publication requirements.

1 Eligibility and funding requirements for clinical trials vary between the partner countries. Clarification may be obtained from the individual funding agencies.


Please note that country specific requirements might apply to this call. We strongly advise you to contact your national/regional representative prior to submitting a pre-proposal:

Country (Region)Contact person(s)Links to national/regional calls mentioning particular requirements
BelgiumDr Arnaud GoolaertsFonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS)
rue d'Egmont 5
1000 Bruxelles
Tél. +32 (0)2 504 93 28
Belgium (Flanders)Dr Olivier Boehme

Wim Schreurs
Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)
Egmontstraat 5
1000 Brussel
CanadaDr Elizabeth Theriault

Christine Charette

Linda McKenzie
Canadian Institutes of Health Research - Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (CIHR-INMHA)
604 827-4744
Strategic Program Design and Analytics
Research and Knowledge Translation Portfolio, CIHR  
Canada (Québec)Dr Anne-Cécile Desfaits

Karine Genest  
Fonds de recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQS)
514-873-2114 #1275
FinlandDr Mikko Ylikangas

Dr Hannele Lahtinen
Academy of Finland (AKA)
+358 29 533 5143
+358 29 533 5055
FranceDr Natalia Martin

Dr Serena Battaglia  
French National Research Agency (ANR)
Health & Biology Department
+33 1 73 54 81 33
+33 1 78 09 80 14
Germany      Dr Sascha Helduser    Project Management Agency (PT-DLR)
Health Research, on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
+49 228 3821 1116
IcelandDr Katrin ValgeirsdottirRANNIS – The Icelandic Centre for Research
+354 515 5800
IsraelDr Benny LeshemChief Scientist Office - Ministry of Health (CSO-MOH)
ItalyDr Gaetano GuglielmiMinistero della Salute
LatviaDr Uldis BerkisState Education Development Agency (VIAA)
Office: +371-67409242
Mobile: +371-29472349
Poland  Dr Marcin Chmielewski  National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR)
Section for Research Projects BIOMED
phone: + 48 22 39 07 109
fax.: +48 22 20 13 408
PortugalDr Anabela Isidro

Dr Carlos Pereira  
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)
Departamento das Relações Europeias, Bilaterais e Multilaterais
Tel: +351 21 391 15 52
Tel: +351 21 392 4397
RomaniaMrs. Luciana BRATU

Mrs. Simona Cristina STOIAN
Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI)
Tel: +40 21 307 19 35
Fax: +40 21 307 19 11
Tel: +4 021 30 23 893
Slovakia  Dr Jan BarancikSlovak Academy of Sciences (SAS)
Department for International Cooperation
+421 2 5751 0137
SpainDr David Gonzales MartinezMinisterio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO)
Subdirección de Proyectos Internacionales