SMART 4.0 MSCA Call 1 review – 9 prestigious fellowships awarded!

CONFIRM Centre (‘CONFIRM’), an SFI research centre based in Limerick (UL), is a world leading centre for cyber-physical manufacturing research, currently composed of 9 partner academic institutions (UL, UCC, CIT, AIT, NUIG, NUIM, TNI, ITTralee, LIT) and 100+ industrial partners.

SMART 4.0, a European Commission/SFI funded Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action (MSCA) cofund fellowship programme, is managed by Dr. Susan Daly and coordinated by Prof. Conor McCarthy in CONFIRM HQ.  

The goal of the CONFIRM SMART 4.0 programme is to enhance the creative and innovative potential of 16 experienced researchers wishing to diversify and develop through advanced training, and international and intersectoral mobility during a 24 month research programme.  This offering was internationally advertised and launched on 1st October 2019.   

Applications were welcomed in the following core research areas:

Data Analytics; AI; Predictive Modelling; Decision Analytics Product & Process Control Enterprise Modelling & Simulation  |  Software systems; HCI; Security & Integration  |  Networked Systems & IoT Sensors  |  Robotics & Control  Materials Processing

For Call 1, there were 49 eligible candidates – a cumulative view of their areas of expertise is shown on the left.  Aligning to the MSCA ‘bottom-up’ approach, applicants prepared and submitted their fellowship application, with guidance from CONFIRM’s academic and industrial partners.

Each fellowship submission was assessed in a two stage review process.  Following an extensive and rigorous independent peer review by international expert reviewers (both academic and intersectoral representatives), the candidates were shortlisted, then formally interviewed.  A fundamental tenet of SMART 4.0 program is that it is academically led, but industrially informed – at all phases in the programme, our industrial partners play a key role in ensuring that those selected for a SMART 4.0 fellowship possess the relevant skills arsenal and talent to provide immediate return to the knowledge economy.  Thus, the independent interview panels were chosen for their suitability to each proposal’s core research topic, and were composed of members of CONFIRM’s Community of Practice – academic subject matter experts and industry thought leaders.  

In both stages, candidates were scored against set evaluation criteria – Excellence, Impact and Implementation; those whose average score exceeded >70% in both stages were deemed appointable.  Appointable candidates were then ranked in terms of their overall performance – of this number, 9 individuals were selected and offered a SMART 4.0 Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship in the host institution of their choice – all 9 candidates accepted first round offers!

For Call 1, website interactions (see left figure) were registered in 60+ countries, with >900 users – >72% of these were direct via direct links, >10% were via social media and 15% via organic search.


SMART 4.0 is an inclusive, professional development opportunity for researchers, aimed at creating the leaders of tomorrow in the area of smart manufacturing.  All at CONFIRM wait with great anticipation to see which talented applicants will occupy the 7 remaining positions; Call 2 will launch on 1st July 2020.

For further information, please contact

For regular updates, follow us on Twitter: @CONFIRM_SMART #beSMART




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