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International comparison of European NCP systems models, services and tools NCP Benchmarking Workshop Sarajevo, 25 March 2010 Klaus Schuch. Challenges ahead.

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International comparison

of European NCP systems

models, services and tools

NCP Benchmarking Workshop

Sarajevo, 25 March 2010

Klaus Schuch


Challenges ahead

  • BiH is associated to FP; given the political reality a way out of FP association seems unlikely – thus, the issue remains on the agenda!
  • Financial pressure on BiH will probably increase (fee reduction?)
  • FP becomes more competitive (15% success rate)
  • FP oriented towards more excellence, joint programming (which puts pressure on national co-financing budgets), big challenges supposed to need large coordinated approaches to tackle them.

Contributions of a NCP System

  • NCPs can – maybe more than other distinctive single measures – support successful FP participation of Bosnian-Herzegovinian researchers (up to 20%?)
  • If NCPs are well embedded in the national ERA governance, than they can take-over intelligence services too (in division of labour with the ministry and government)
  • FP can be instrumentalized to enhance modernisation agenda in S&T
  • BUT: NCPs cannot solve structural problems!

BiH NCP-System at first glance

  • Select a country; all NCP functions
  • The following results were detected:
  • BiH: 2 contacts (NCP coordinator and INCO NCP)
  • Albania: 17 contacts Bulgaria: 67 contacts
  • Croatia: 24 contacts Estonia: 24 contacts
  • Macedonia: 21 contacts Hungary: 29 contacts
  • Montenegro: 15 contacts Poland: 47 contacts
  • Serbia: 30 contacts Slovenia: 22 contacts

BiH NCP-System at first glance (2)

  • Last News on 1 January 2010 (checked yesterday)
  • No newsletter received since weeks
  • Partner search does not work from main site
  • Last announced workshops in 2008
  • Last announced info-days in 2007
  • but good webpage structure – potentially powerful tool

Bosnia-Herzegovina should not refrain from a NCP-system!

More investment and steady funding is necessary!

Clear governance structure, commitment, performance based resource allocation and a cross-cutting quality initiative are in demand!

Networking at different European levels is needed!


NCP systems in Europe

  • France, Germany, UK, Greece, or Russia maintain NCPs in different host organisations – challenge for the NCP coordinator to ensure ongoing flow of information, dialogue and steering. At least, France and Germany maintain a joint web-portal as online entrance point.
  • Sweden, Austria, The Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Ukraine created central organisations resp. agencies. The NCP coordinator is often the director of the organisation or its respective department.

High diversity

  • Some countries seek organisation synergies between national funding programmes and NCP activities (e.g. VINNOVA, SENTER-NOVEM, FFG).
  • Others seek synergies between national RTD organisations and NCP activities and place them in leading national RTD organisations (e.g. Slovenia/JSI; France/CNRS, Russia/Khurtschakov Institute).
  • In some countries like Sweden, Austria, The Netherlands national funding for the central NCP organisation covers 100% of efforts; others like Italy are partly funded via contributions by members and competitively acquired resources. NCPs in Greece or France are publicly supported through their host organisations (e.g. universities).

Benchmarking of 8 NCP systems

  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Slovenia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Macedonia

Size of NCP systems

  • Around 20 NCPs are covering the majority of FP sub-programmes (plus occasionally other initiatives)
  • In many countries NCPs are doing other jobs too
  • Most NCP systems have substantial number of additional support personnel (e.g. Poland, Austria)

Organisation of NCP systems

  • Some centralised NCP systems are complemented by regional (and thematic) contact points (e.g. Poland)
  • Private-non-profit status is exception; usually there is public background
  • In some organisationally decentralised systems a strong “headquarter” exists (e.g. MZ, SL); in others only weak coordination through government (BE, FR)

Budget and Financing

  • Budgets depend strongly on salary levels
  • Without salaries additional budget is limited
  • EU sources can be exceptionally substantial but not reliable
  • No service fees; NCP services are perceived as public task

National FP Co-funding

  • Proposal preparation funds are common but rules vary
  • Top-up for granted FP projects sometimes at regional level (structural funds)


  • Benchmarking with other NCPs is important (peer reviews)
  • Twinning with experienced NCP in start-up phase recommended
  • Often supervisory or monitoring councils are in place
  • Reporting templates are a common feature (incl. statistics)
  • More emphasis should be directed on output indicators (FFG), but input indicators are more common
  • Regular competitive contracting increases competitiveness
  • QA best practices: TEKES, VINNOVA, FFG, DLR
  • Initiative proposed by FFG to start a joint QA activity for NCP systems

Success Criteria

  • Success rate in FP above EU average (EE); impact (hardly attributable)
  • Feedback questionnaires at promotion events (AT, EE)
  • Statistics on the use of websites, helpdesks, participants in information days etc. (BE) (input data)
  • 90% of consulted coordinators should submit project proposal (AT) (output data)
  • 60% of consulted project partners should submit project proposal (AT) (output data)
  • Success rate of consulted researchers by factor 2 (AT) (impact)

Relations with national ERA governance

  • NCPs and PC are usually closely related (often overlaps)
  • NCPs only occasionally in other strategic bodies (usually GOV NCPs)
  • Embedding of NCPs in national ERA net governance rather loose (need for coordination mechanism; need for national ERA governance)
  • … but NCPs can support national ERA governance (PL) in the country and positioning of the country vis-a-vis EC (SL)

The ideal NCP system?

  • Not in the government, but supervised by it
  • Selection process is decisive (working culture, service attitude and costumer-orientation)
  • Centralised; complemented by regional structures
  • Avoidance of conflict of interest (no research organisation based solution)
  • Dedicated budget and operational autonomy
  • Financial sustainability and high allocation from one source
  • FTE instead of multiple job descriptions
  • NCP nomination based on professional merits and not political influence
  • International visibility/accessibility must be secured

Klaus Schuch

Zentrum for Soziale Innovation

Linke Wienzeile 246

A - 1150 Vienna

Tel. ++43.1.4950442-32

Fax. ++43.1.4950442-40