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“FP6 Networks of excellence”. An instrument for tackling the fragmentation of European research (as of October 2002) 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)

  • 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
  • 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]