Management meeting Prague, August 17, 2015

Coordinator Liane Benning began the management meeting by thanking the MINSC fellows for the excellent work they had performed and results they had achieved over the course of the project. Most of the MINSC fellows will complete their contracts by the end of 2015, so the Goldschmidt meeting represented a final opportunity for many of the fellows to meet as a group.

Next, Liane informed the PIs and fellows that the project officer, Giuliana Donini, had approved the second progress report submitted to the commission. The project officer stated:

"I am pleased to read that the planned research and training activities have been continued and the training events have been delivered as per Annex 1. Each individual project has made very good progress and those you have highlighted are very interesting. The collaboration between the beneficiaries and associated partners seems very good and the researchers have benefited from different secondments, also to the private sector. From the documents attached to the Progress Report, I could see that the researchers are also active in the publications, dissemination and outreach activities. The project has developed important synergies with other Marie Curie ITN projects like MetTrans, and CO2React."

The meeting next turned to a discussion of finances. Fellows at University of Leeds recently saw the amounts on their payslips decrease due to fluctuations in currency conversions between the euro and the pound. Although all fellows will receive their full allowances in compliance with EC regulations, the fellows pointed out that they would have preferred to learn about the decreases a bit sooner as it came as a shock coming towards the end of their contracts. The coordinator agreed, and the project manager will contact the finance office at Uni Leeds to request that currency fluctuations be evaluated more regularly and that fellows be informed quickly if their take home salary is likely to change significantly. Fellows were then asked if they had any questions related to the financial management of their fellowships (ie. Currency adjustments, financing of training, conference and workshop participation, secondments, etc).

The project manager, Adriana Matamoros Veloza, asked all PIs to closely examine budgets at their individual institutes to verify that all fellows will have received full allowances by the end of their contracts. She reminded the PIs that those institutes who spend more than 375 000 euros will need to provide a certificate on the financial statement when submitting the final financial report (form C). She also reminded those partners who had errors on their first Form C that they should make appropriate adjustments on the final form C.

The coordinator next opened the floor to a general discussion of the strong and weak points of the MINSC ITN. Overall, fellows were very positive about their experiences as Marie Curie fellows. They greatly enjoyed the network meetings and training courses and feel that they have learned a lot of practical information for their future careers. They would, however, have liked to have received more information from the European Commission about other funding opportunities after completing an ITN contract. They enjoyed the multicultural aspect of the ITN and would be interested in continuing to work in such an environment.

Finally, the coordinator and project manager revisited the list of original milestones and deliverables promised in the grant agreement. Almost all milestones and deliverables have already been achieved and MINSC will most likely surpass its original objectives. The meeting concluded at this point.