25 March 2020

Update #20 COVID-19

  NOTE: these updates may contain outdated information. Please read the latest information.

Update #20: 25 March, 17.20 hrs

In this update, we cover a number of issues related to the progress of research at Maastricht University. You will also find links to the latest 'Martin's blog' and to the webinar the Executive Board gave on Tuesday.

Research grants and funding

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is currently difficult for researchers to submit grant applications on time or to comply with conditions and obligations of ongoing research projects. Grant providers are also experiencing difficulties with processing both new and ongoing applications. For this reason, various providers are coming up with measures and guidelines for postponing grant rounds.

The most important measures of NWO and the European Commission are outlined below.

NWO grant rounds

On 17 March 2020, NWO (the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) implemented a guideline for postponing the primary process for the submission of ongoing and upcoming funding rounds. This guideline includes the following measures:       

  • Interviews for ongoing funding rounds scheduled before 1 May will be postponed.
  • Deadlines for ongoing funding rounds will be extended.
  • For upcoming funding rounds in which the deadline has not yet passed (e.g. Vici), the entire schedule of the round (pre-registration, detailed application, replies and interviews) will be postponed by one month.
  • For funding that requires the formation of a consortium and/or co-financing (e.g. NWA-ORC), upcoming and ongoing funding rounds will be completely put on hold until further notice and will be resumed one month after the national protection measures are suspended.

For more information on the NWO guideline and for updates, please visit the NWO website. For ZonMw applications that do not fall under NWO, you can refer to the ZonMw website (in Dutch).

Horizon 2020 grant rounds

All Horizon 2020 calls in which the deadlines fall between 18 March and 15 April will be postponed. For the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and European Innovation Council (EIC), there will be no postponement. The force majeure clause for ongoing projects will remain in effect. For more information on the new (extended) deadlines, please visit the Horizon 2020 portal.

Ongoing research projects

The coronavirus pandemic is also affecting ongoing research projects. Due to the closure of laboratory facilities and because researchers are required to stay at home, research projects that take place on site have been shut down. This includes research with test subjects, research for which employees have to be present in UM buildings, and research that involves fieldwork. The resulting delays not only have major consequences for the research itself, but also for the researchers personally. These constraints and their consequences are currently being evaluated for all ongoing projects.

The Executive Board and the faculties are currently looking at how to deal with these constraints. Attention is also being paid to this in the context of the VSNU. We ask everyone to notify their faculty's research policy officers about the constraints they are facing. This will help us to quickly gain insights into the potential consequences for the research or the employment status.

National private funding organisations (‘collectebusfondsen’)

The two largest research foundations in the Netherlands, the Dutch Cancer Society (DCS/KWF) and Hartstichting (Heart Foundation) have issued the following statements regarding research: KWF statement (in Dutch) and Hartstichting statement (in Dutch). For more information, please consult their websites.

We will continue to provide updates in the coming period from the faculties, through the associate deans of research and the research policy officers.

Martin’s blog, post number 3

In his personal capacity, Martin Paul, President of Maastricht University, comments on the abundance of news about the coronavirus pandemic. Today, his third blog post, 'How to deal with physical distancing—tips from outer space', was published.

Executive Board webinar

The university community has many questions. Some of them were answered by Martin Paul, Rianne Letschert and Nick Bos of the Executive Board during a webinar on Tuesday afternoon. The three also reflected on their own experiences during these exceptional days and weeks. Would you like to watch the webinar (again)? That can be done here.

Keep your workstation cyber-safe @ home

In previous updates, we have already given recommendations for keeping your desktops, laptops and tablets secure while working from home. To maintain a safe workstation, the security systems of these devices (operating system, antivirus software, etc.) have to be updated regularly.

Normally, your device will take care of this automatically every time you restart your system. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you shut down (not hibernate!) your device at the end of each day (which also supports sustainability goals).

For employees using their UM laptop at home, an additional step is crucial since these laptops download their updates from the UM network servers: Connect your UM laptop regularly to the UM network using VPN!

The VPN software is safe, provided that you download it from the correct UM website: https://vpn.maastrichtuniversity.nl.

For additional advice on cyber security, please visit https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/cyber-security