New Internal guidance for managing EU funded projects
A short guide to help principal investigators manage their EU projects and avoid some of the pitfallsEU Management Guide
Following on from the recent visit by UKRO to Lancaster please find attached the slides from the presentation on FP7 & the European Research Council
The European Union has announced its plans for the Seventh EU Research Framework Programme 2007-13 (FP7). This seven year programme is due to commence at the beginning of 2007 and has been perceived by the EC as an opportunity to build on the achievements of FP6, by matching its research policy to its ambitions, in terms of economic and social policy, through the consolidation of the European research area (ERA).
Through FP7 the EC hope to achieve four fundamental goals:
- To gain leadership in key scientific and technology areas
- To stimulate the creativity and excellence of European research
- To develop and strengthen the human potential of European research
- To enhance research and innovation capacity throughout Europe
However, the Commission's proposals are still under debate by the EU Council and European Parliament, with decisions yet to be finalised on the specifics of its structure and implementation. In fact it was only very recently that the budget of EUR 50,521 million was finally agreed; much less than the EUR 73 000 million originally proposed back in April 2005. The budget will be allocated four specific programmes based on major European research policy-defined themes:
- Co-operation (EUR 32,292 million) – Stimulate cooperation and improve links between industry and research within a trans-national framework
- Ideas (EUR 7,460 million) – Enhance exploratory research.
- People (EUR 4,727 million) – Support training, mobility and the career development of European researchers.
- Capacities (EUR 2,751 million) – Improving research infrastructures in order to enhance the quality and competitiveness of European research
Furthermore, funding will be available through two additional schemes:
- Joint Research Centre (non-nuclear) – EUR 1,751 million
- Euratom (to 2011) – EUR 2,751 million.
These will cover research into fusion energy and nuclear fission and radiation protection.
FP7 has adopted many of the aspects that have proven successful in previous Framework Programmes, particularly those of FP6. For example, projects run by European partner groups will continue to play a pivotal role in the Framework Programme. However, the Commission are keen to stress that although there will be a degree of continuation from preceding Frameworks, FP7 will not be "just another Framework Programme". This is illustrated by the increase in length of the Programme from the usual four years, to seven years, highlighting the Commissions commitment to generating European research. There have also been a number of new measures introduced in an attempt to improve research policy.
The Cooperation Programme will receive a majority of the EU research funding under FP7 (approximately 64%) and will be organised into four sub-programmes:
1. Collaborative Research
Collaborative research will receive a bulk of the funding under the Cooperation Programme and places huge emphasis on trans-national collaboration. Support will be given across a range of activities, from collaborative networks to the coordination of national research programmes. Nine thematic areas have been identified by the Commission, under collaborative research, for their relevance to major fields of progress in knowledge and technology, where excellent research must be strengthened to address European social, economic, public health, environmental and industrial challenges. These themes are given below:
- Health: with emphasis placed on transferring basic research discoveries to clinical applications.
- Food, Agriculture & Biotechnology Main objectives are new solutions to answer the demand for safer and healthier foods combined with sustainable agriculture and renewable bio-resources.
- Information & Communication Technologies - The ICT sub-programme aims to integrate technologies and result in new applications for industrial as well as domestic settings.
- Nanosciences & Nanotechnologies - aims to generate new knowledge for breakthrough applications and thus transform European industry from resource-based to knowledge-based.
- Energy with the focus placed on renewable energy sources and a significant lowering of CO2 emissions
- Environment (including Climate Change) - dealing with ways to predict climate change and the development of novel approaches towards earth observation.
- Transport (including Aeronautics) - developing environmentally-friendly and efficient pan-European transport systems.
- Socio-Economic Sciences & the Humanities - in-depth investigation of the complex social issues facing the EU, including employment, social cohesion, quality of life and growth and ways to affect policies through an improved knowledge base.
- Security & Space - covering technologies developed to ensure citizen security with applications in the civil as well as the defence areas.
Each of these themes has been broadly defined so as to enable the adaptation of priorities to emerging research needs and unforeseen policy needs, throughout the life of the Framework Programme. Moreover, cross-thematic approaches to areas of common research interest will be encouraged, in order to facilitate multi-disciplinary research relevant to more than one theme.
2. Joint Technology Initiatives
Joint Technology Initiatives have been introduced in order to ensure industrial relevance under the Co-operation Programme. They have been created as a direct result of work carried out through European Technology Platforms and will be facilitated by private sector investment and national and European public funding, including grant funding from the Research Framework Programme and loan finance from the European Investment Bank. The research areas covered under the first set of Joint Technology Initiatives are given below, although the Commission do stress that additional initiatives may be identified during the implementation of FP7:
- Innovative Medicines Initiatives
- New Nanoelectronics Approaches
- Embedded Computing Systems
- Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Initiatives
- Aeronautics and Air Transport
- Global Monitoring for Environment and Security
These initiatives are designed to cover a wide range of challenges and will be determined by the following criteria:-
- Added value of European-level intervention
- The degree and clarity of definition of the objective to be pursued
- Strength of the financial and resource commitment from industry
- Scale of the impact on industrial competitiveness and growth
- Importance of the contribution to broader policy objectives
- Capacity to attract additional national support and leverage current or future industry funding.
- Inability of existing instruments to achieve the objective.
The EC state that, "Particular attention will be paid to the overall coherence and coordination between Joint Technology Initiatives and national programmes and projects in the same fields. The involvement of SME's, where appropriate, will also be encouraged" (EC "Co-operation" Proposal, 21/09/05).
3. Coordination of non-Community Research Programmes
This sub-programme is aimed at improving the co-ordination of national research programmes and strengthening the links between the EU and European intergovernmental research organisations. It will be used to, "...enhance the complementarity and synergy between the Framework Programme and activities carried out in the framework of intergovernmental structures" (EC Co-ordination Proposal, 21/09/05).
One particularly interesting aspect of this sub-programme is the fact there is a possibility for subjects not directly covered by the nine thematic areas to be funded, providing they have sufficient EU added value.
4. International Cooperation
This sub-programme aims to support and improve European competitiveness by recruiting scientists from non-European countries to work in and with Europe. This will particularly apply to highly industrialised countries and those who are up-and-coming in the field of science and technology. Research will be carried out on specific issues faced by non-European countries, together with those that may have a global impact, for the purposes of "mutual interest and mutual benefit."
International Co-operation will be carried out across all nine thematic areas and will be open to researches and institutions from International Co-operation Partner countries and industrialised countries. In addition specific co-operation actions will be identified in each of the nine thematic areas for the purposes of addressing certain issues of mutual interest.
The activities under this sub-programme will run alongside the international co-operation actions under the "People" and "Capacities" programmes.back to top
The Ideas Programme is designed to strengthen research innovation and excellence across Europe, through the promotion of "frontier research". The aim is to generate investigator-driven ("bottom-up") research, performed by individual teams, across all scientific and technological fields, in order to develop knowledge that will enable us to gain a new understanding of the world and the way we live. Competition will be central to the Ideas Programme, with the fundamental criteria for evaluation being "excellence".
The European Research Council (ERC) will administer the programme, supporting the most pioneering and ground-breaking research projects, "without regard for established disciplinary boundaries or national borders" (EC Proposal for the Specific Programmes, September 2005). The ERC is a new edition to Framework 7 made up of a scientific governing council and a dedicated implementation structure. The scientific council will contain esteemed members of the European scientific community, appointed by the Commission for the purposes of acting in their personal capacity, independently of political or other interests. The role of the council will be to:
1. Identify priorities and develop scientific strategy in areas such as calls for proposals and criteria on the basis of which proposals are to be funded, as well as the identification of specific topics or target groups.
2. Motor and control the programmes implementation, in terms of quality, from a scientific perspective. This will include the establishment of a peer review process, management of calls for proposals, evaluation criteria, together with other factors that are likely to influence the achievements of the Specific Programme and the quality of research carried out.
3. Communicate with the scientific community and key stakeholders on the achievements of the programme and the developments of the ERC, whilst regularly reporting back to the Commission on its activities.
The dedicated implementation structure, on the other hand, will be responsible for all aspects of implementation and programme execution, including the peer review and selection process, evaluation procedures, and ensuring the financial and scientific management of grants.
The European Commission will act as a guarantor of the ERC's full autonomy and integrity. In other words the Commission's responsibility lies within making sure the "...ERC's implementation structure is put into place, and that the programme is executed by the ERC in line with the objectives that have been set, following the scientific orientations and the requirements of scientific excellence, as they are determined by the Scientific Council, acting independently" (EC Proposal for the Specific Programmes, September 2005).back to top
The People Programme aims to, "...strengthen, quantitatively and qualitatively, the human potential in research and technological development in Europe" (EC "People" Proposal, 21/09/05). The EC's objective is to promote research as a profession and encourage the world's top researchers to work in Europe, through the implementation of "Marie Curie actions". These actions will focus on all stages of a researcher's career, via five main activities:
- Initial Training of Researchers – Improving career prospects through strengthening the initial training and career development of researchers at the European level
- Life-Long Training and Career Development - Support the career development of experienced researchers through individual fellowships awarded directly at Community level and by co-financing of regional, national or international programmes.
- Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways - Supporting longer term cooperation programmes between academia and industrial entities, in particular SMEs, through staff secondments and workshops for exchanging information and experience.
- The International Dimension - Attract research talent from outside Europe, to foster mutually beneficial research collaboration with researchers from outside Europe and to improve the career development of European researchers by supporting international research cooperation.
- Specific Actions - Support the creation of a genuine European labour market for researchers and awards to improve the public awareness of Marie Curie actions.
FP7 aims to achieve this by building on the success of the current Marie Curie Programme through increasing focus on three specific aspects:
1. Better structuring: While existing European post-doctoral fellowships have reached a degree of maturity, there is fragmentation among regional, national and international (non-Community) programmes, which are often limited in their European dimension. European co-funding for these programmes (based on open calls) could bring a better structure.
2. Industrial participation: FP7 will introduce a stronger focus on training and career development (especially in the private sector). There will be a stronger emphasis on developing the complementary skills needed to better understand research in enterprises and on an active role for industrial actors, especially SME’s.
3. A stronger international dimension: FP7 will reinforce cooperation with researchers from third countries and introduce new dimensions for collaboration with the EU’s neighbouring countries. ‘Scientific diasporas’ of European researchers abroad and foreign researchers in Europe will also be supported.back to top
The Capacities Programme is designed to provide researchers with powerful tools that will enable them to enhance the quality and competitiveness of European research. The programme will be achieved by addressing six fundamental areas:
1. Research Infrastructures – Support facilities, resources or services needed by the European research community in all scientific and technological fields provided that they contribute significantly to the development of European research capacities
2. Research for the Benefit of SME's - Strengthen the innovation capacity of European small and medium-sized enterprises and their contribution to the development of new technology based products and markets. This will be achieved by helping them outsource research, increase their own research efforts, extend their networks, better exploit research results and acquire technological know-how.
3. Regions of Knowledge - Strengthen the research potential of European regions by encouraging trans-national networks of regions and research-driven clusters, helping improve regional competitiveness and R&D/knowledge absorption capacities.
4. Research Potential - Unlock and develop the full research potential of outermost and convergence regions by assisting researcher mobility into those regions and supporting the acquisition and development of research equipment.
5. Science in Society – Integration of scientific and technological endeavour and associated research policies in the European social structure
6. Activities of International Cooperation – Support strategic partnerships with third countries in scientific fields of mutual interest to encourage the best scientists in the world to work with and in Europe
In addition, the Capacities Programme emphasises the importance of the "coherent development of research policies," as demonstrated in the Cooperation Programme, contributing to Community policies and initiatives (e.g. legislation, recommendations and guidelines) with the aim of improving the coherence and impact of Member States policies. This will be facilitated by two key activities:
1. Monitoring and analysis of research-related public policies and industrial strategies
2. Coordination of research policies, including trans-national cooperation initiatives undertaken at national or regional level on issues of common interest.back to top
Useful WebsitesResearch Europe Research Europe forms part of ResearchResearch.com and is a web based database which provides up to the minute information on all funding opportunities available across Europe, news monitoring in Research Day: Europe and in depth news and analysis in Research Europe. Research Europe is an incredibly useful tool with a whole range of services including email alerts, configurable database searches and a fortnightly magazine.
UKRO The UK Research Office (UKRO) is the UK's fundamental information and advice service on European Union funding for research and higher education. They provide up-to-date information on EU Framework and non-Framework funding, together with articles detailing the latest developments in research and higher education programmes and policy, relevant developments in the Commission and the European Parliament, and emerging issues at European level.
Cordis Cordis is the European Commission's information service on European Research and Innovation activities. It offers a wide range of information about EU research and innovation policies, EU funding programmes, initiatives, potential partners, and previous and on-going projects.
Europa Europa is the portal site of the European Union and provides up-to-date coverage of European Union affairs and essential information on European integration. Users can also consult all legislation currently in force or under discussion, access the websites of each of the EU institutions and find out about the policies administered by the European Union under the powers devolved to it by the Treaties.back to top