The European Union has released some data on the latest call for applications for ITN grants. These are "training networks" where academic and non-academic institutions pool up to provide innovative training to doctoral students, in the meanting producing excellent research outputs.

I participated for the first time to the call as a coordinator, together with 13 other institutions (Oxford, LIP Lisbon, Blaise Pascal Univ., CP3 Louvain, IASA Athens, CERN, INFN, and Padova dept of Statistics as beneficiaries, plus UoC Irvine, EPFL Lausanne, B12-consulting, SDG group, Yandex and Mathworks as partners), submitting the proposal last January after four months of struggles and hard work, and incredibly, we won - with a high score. Usually these proposals get refused, and one uses the evaluation to re-submit several times before eventually giving up or being selected. 

Our network aims at developing statistical learning tools for new physics searches at the LHC, and we will be hiring ten early-stage researchers (post-lauream students, who will do a PhD with us) in the course of the next four years. The first six of them will be hired in the fall this year, so if you are interested in a very well-paid PhD program which will provide you with deep expertise in advanced statistical tools, data analysis, and experience in industry, keep an eye here and on twitter (hashtag #AMVA4NP - the network is named AMVA4NewPhysics and includes ATLAS and CMS researchers as well as phenomenologists from CERN and other institutes, plus statisticians). Ah, in fact - one of the PhD will be in Statistics, not Physics.

Today, as I was saying above, I gave a look at the first data on the proposals submitted for this call. The total budget allocated by the EU for ITNs in this call was Eur 317,000,000, and the maximum amount one could ask of it was of 3.8M Euro. In total, 1322 proposals were submitted in all fields of research (I do not know how many in Physics - probably a couple hundred). 

All together, the proponents requested a budget of 3,958,000,000 Euro - hence an average of 3M Euro each. The EU does not say much more at this time - more data will be released on the winning proposals in a couple of months - but already one can see that the winners must be of the order of 100 or so, unless the EU preferred smaller or bigger projects in their selection. This would imply that the fraction of winning projects is of the order of 8%.

What I am most curious to know is what was the evaluation of the winning projects. The EU gave an evaluation composed of three criteria: Excellence, Impact, and Implementation, sharing the score 50%/30%/20% among them and giving a score from 0 to 5 to each, then multiplying by two the sum such that the result is from 0 to 10. Our project got 4.8/5 in Excellence, 4.8/5 in Impact, and 4.6/5 in Implementation, for a total score of 9.52/10. I have the feeling this is rather high, judging by past evaluations of similar networks. We'll see in a couple of months!