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“FP6 Networks of excellence”. An instrument for tackling the fragmentation of European research (as of October 2002) europa.eu.int/comm/research/nfp/networks-ip.html. Objectives. Designed to strengthen Europe’s excellence on a particular research topic

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An instrument for tackling

the fragmentation of European research

(as of October 2002)europa.eu.int/comm/research/nfp/networks-ip.html


  • Designed to strengthen Europe’s excellence on a particular research topic

    • by integrating the critical mass of expertise needed to provide European leadership and be a world force

    • around a joint programme of activities

  • An instrument for tackling thefragmentation of European research

    • where the main deliverable is a durable structuring and shaping of how research is carried out in Europe

  • Each NoE has a mission to spread excellence beyond its partners

The joint programme of activities 1
The joint programme of activities (1)

  • A range of “new or re-oriented” activities

    • integrating activities

      • coordinated programming of the partners’ activities

      • sharing of research platforms/tools/facilities

      • joint management of the knowledge portfolio

      • staff mobility and exchanges

      • relocation of staff, teams and equipment

      • reinforced electronic communication systems

The joint programme of activities 2
The joint programme of activities(2)

  • joint research activities : a programme of joint research to support the network’s goals

    • development of new research tools and platforms for common use

    • generating new knowledge to fill gaps in or to extend the collective knowledge portfolio

The joint programme of activity 3
The joint programme of activity(3)

  • Activities to spread excellence

    • training researchers and other key staff

    • dissemination and communication activities

    • networking activities to help transfer knowledge to teams external to the network

    • where appropriate, promoting the exploitation of the results generated within the network

    • where appropriate, innovation-related activities: protection of knowledge generated, assessment of the socio-economic impact of the knowledge and technologies generated, developing a plan for use and dissemination of the knowledge, take-up activities (especially for SMEs)

The joint programme of activity 4
The joint programme of activity(4)

  • Network management:

    • overall coordination of the joint activities

    • communication with the Commission, reporting

    • activities linked to consortium-level financing and accounting management and legal issues

    • coordination of the knowledge management activities, and where appropriate, other innovation-related activities

    • promotion of gender equality

    • science and society issues related to the topics of the network

    • supporting the governing board and other network bodies

      All activities within a unified management structure

Critical mass
Critical mass

  • Expertise: assembling of the critical mass needed to achieve the ambitious goals of the network

    • variable from topic to topic

    • larger networks may involve several hundreds of researchers

    • but may be smaller, provided the necessary ambition and critical mass are achieved

  • Partnership: in general at least six (legal minimum: 3 from 3 different countries)

  • Duration of Community support:typically 5 years

    • more if necessary to create durable integration BUT no more than 7 years

Financial regime 1
Financial regime (1)

  • Community support targeted at overcoming the barriers to a durable integration

    • these barriers are mainly organisational, cultural and human  cannot be quantified in normal accounting terms

  • Has led to the concept of an incentive, taking the form of a global “fixed grant for integration”

Financial regime 2
Financial regime (2)

  • A fixed grant for integration acting as an incentive, calculated on basis

    • of the degree of integration

    • of the total number of researchers

      • that make up the research capacities of the partners on the topic of the network

      • where a researcher has a PhD or at least four years research experience

    • with a bonus for registered doctoral students

    • of the characteristics of the field of research

    • of the joint programme of activities

Financial regime 3
Financial regime (3)

  • The average annual grant to a network could vary with the number of researchers as follows:

  • In this illustration, a network of 200 researchers supported over 5 years would therefore receive a fixed grant of €17.5 million (plus bonus for registered doctoral students)

Payments regime
Payments regime

  • Annual payments of the grant will be paid on the basis of results

    • i.e. will depend on a progressive advance towards a durable integration

    • with an additional check that costs of at least the value of the grant were incurred in implementing the joint programme of activity

Evaluation process 1
Evaluation process (1)

  • Calls for proposals normally preceded by expressions of interest

  • Simplified proposal-making

    • reflecting evolutionary nature of the network

  • Evaluation by a strengthened peer review system

    • in stages, possibly involving individual reviews, panel sessions, hearings of applicants...

Evaluation process 2
Evaluation process (2)

  • Key issues to be addressed during evaluation

    • potential impact on strengthening Europe’s excellence

    • collective excellence of the network’s members

    • extent, depth and lasting nature of the integration

    • contribution to spreading excellence

    • management and governance of the network

Measuring integration
Measuring integration

  • In the proposal, participants will include possible qualitative and quantitative indicators for measuring progress towards integration

  • The main factors to be examined:

    • extent of mutual specialisation and mutual complementarity

    • sharing and development for common use of research infrastructure, equipment, tools and platforms

    • regular joint execution of research projects

    • interactive working through electronic communication systems

    • joint management of the knowledge portfolio

    • joint training programme (researchers-other key staff)

    • coherent management framework

Initial contract and advance payment 1
Initial contract and advance payment (1)

  • The contract will specify the maximum Community contribution, but not its distribution among participants

    • consortium autonomy

    • elimination of major source of micro-management

  • An annex contains

    • overall description of the network

    • detailed joint programme of activity only for first 18 months

  • Advance payment: equal to 85% of the Community contribution anticipated for the first 18 months

  • Initial contract and advance payment 2
    Initial contract and advance payment (2)

    • Simplified signature procedure

      • faster entry into force

  • The consortium designates a ‘coordinator’

    • liaison with Commission,

    • receives and distributes the grant

  • Consortium agreement is a prerequisite

  • Reporting and payments schedule
    Reporting and payments schedule

    • The consortium will submit to the Commission for its approval an annual report containing:

      • an outline of previous 12 months’ activities

      • financial documents on the costs incurred in implementing the JPA (including cost certificates and management-level justification)

      • a detailed joint programme of activities for the following 18 months

    • Upon acceptance of above, the outstanding advance will be supplemented up to 85% of the anticipated Community contribution for following 18 months

    Governance and monitoring 1
    Governance and monitoring (1)

    • A network’s governance must ensure institutional engagement by the partner organisations

      • through e.g. a “governing board” of senior representatives from the partners

        • to oversee integration of the partners’ activities

    Governance and monitoring 2
    Governance and monitoring (2)

    • Robust output monitoring by the Commission, involving external experts at all stages

      • annual reviews

        • basis for payment by results

        • triggering a yellow flag/red flag, if a review is failed

      • end-of-term review

        • to assess impact of network on strengthening and spreading excellence

    Flexibility and autonomy of implementation
    Flexibility and autonomy of implementation

    • For the joint programme of activities, each year, the network

      • proposes a detailed JPA for the coming 18 months

      • and may propose to update the overall JPA

        • both need approval of the Commission to enter into force

    • For the allocation of the Community grant

      • the partnership will have freedom to distribute it between partners and activities

    • For changes in the network partnership

      • the partnership may itself decide to take in new partners (without additional funding)

      • the Commission may decide to launch calls to add partners (with additional funding)

    Elements to be particularly looked at 1
    Elements to be particularly looked at (1)

    • Demonstrated need for structuring

      • description of fragmentation in the topic

      • existence of excellent capacities in Europe in the topic

         a network of excellence could constitute an answer to the fragmentation problem identified

    Elements to be particularly looked at 2
    Elements to be particularly looked at (2)

    • Features of the network planned

      • composition of the partnership: presence of key excellent actors

      • potential synergies/complementarity/specialisation among the members

      • quality /degree of integration proposed

    Elements to be particularly looked at 3
    Elements to be particularly looked at (3)

    • Viability of the network beyond the period

      • awareness of high-decision level representatives of the participating organisations : strong commitment

      • security regarding network’s funding, particularly beyond the period

    More information
    More information

    • Regularly updated website on the instruments europa.eu.int/comm/research/fp6/networks-ip.html

    • brochures and leaflets on the new instruments: available at Heysel conference and on Europa as above

    • Presentation slides: on Europa as above

    • Networks of excellence: [email protected]