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Background on H2020 and the "Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation" against disparities in R&I performance and the innovation divide in EU

In order to address the challenges of R&D investments, efficiency of national research and innovation systems and networking, Horizon 2020 introduces specific measures for spreading excellence and widening participation through engaging those who could commit more towards the EU research and innovation effort. This will greatly enhance competitiveness and specificially addresses several countries covered in the EUSDR: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic and Slovenia (i.e. EU13 and Associated countries) who are eligible to apply to strengthen their capacities in cooperation with at least two other organisations (e.g. from another EUSDR country such as Austria or Germany or any other EU Member State and associated country). Recently, Dr Stefan Weiers (EC, Directorate General for Research and Innovation) provided Danube-INCO.NET with relevant information concerning the scope, financial issues and eligibility criteria of the 2015 call for twinning.

  • Posted on: 20.01.2015
  • Belgium

Horizon 2020 ''Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation'' scope

In relation to the background to this programme, it is important to note that despite serious efforts deployed at national and European level, the Union sees significant internal disparities in terms of research and innovation performance. These trends are further exacerbated by the continuing severe financial crisis, and the subsequent adverse effects on public research and innovation budgets.

There is significant evidence pointing to the fact that the pathway to economic growth and competitiveness is largely connected to research and innovation.

To tap into Europe's yet unexploited potential in research and innovation a stronger participation in Horizon 2020 coupled with greater commitment by the low-performing Member States and regions can be instrumental. This focus will enable the European Research Area to function in a more streamlined and homogeneous way, where the individual strengths of every Member State and region may be optimised.

Furthermore, research and innovation performance is correlated with the efficiency of the national research and innovation systems. Technical assistance and expertise is needed for those low performing Member States and regions to improve their research and innovation systems and policies.

Moreover, participation in the EU Framework Programmes is increasingly dependent on networking and staying connected with partners across the EU. It is imperative for those pockets of excellence in Europe to enter and remain on the "framework programmes grid", thus facilitating access to networks and partnering opportunities.

In order to address the above challenges of R&D investments, efficiency of national research and innovation systems and networking, Horizon 2020 introduces specific measures for spreading excellence and widening participation through engaging those who could commit more towards the EU research and innovation effort. This will greatly enhance competitiveness.

In view of the abovementioned challenges dedicated actions exist under Horizon 2020 and the "Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation" Part, to address the issue of disparities in R&I performance and the innovation divide in Europe.

Actions relating to widening participation, which under the original Commission proposal for Horizon 2020 were included in Societal Challenge 6, have, moved outside the three pillars of Horizon 2020 as a specific objective in a new Part IV, now named "Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation".  One of the key actions for widening participation is the instrument Twinning.

Twinning

One of the key actions for widening participation is the Twinning that will aim towards significantly strengthening a defined field of research in an emerging institution in a less R&D performing Member State through linking this institution with at least two internationally-leading counterparts in Europe. Activities like short term staff exchanges, expert visits and short-term on-site or virtual training; workshops; conference attendance; dissemination and outreach will be supported. Potential applicants should clearly outline the scientific strategy for stepping up and stimulating scientific excellence and innovation capacity in a defined area of research, as well as the scientific quality of the partners involved in the twinning exercise. €1m will be the maximum grant available per proposal, for duration of three years.

Funding will be available for expert visits, short term on-site or virtual training, workshops and conference attendance, organisation of joint summer school activities, and outreach activities. The co-ordinator must be from an organisation in the EU13 (those countries joining after 2004, Luxembourg or Portugal and from associated countries as well, see above), while the proposal needs to include at least two additional leading institutions from two different member states and/or associated countries.

The call deadline is 7 May 2015.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON PERSONNEL COSTS

Twinning is not aimed at hiring new researchers (permanent or temporary), as its objectives, amongst others, focus on raising the existing staff's research profile.

However personnel costs are eligible;

- for personnel of all beneficiaries (from Widening or non-Widening countries),

- regardless of their function (researchers, administration, management)

- regardless their status at the organizations (permanent or temporary or newly recruited),

- provided that these personnel costs are directly attributed to the eligible activities ( notably non-research) indicated in the Work Programme text and

- subject to the cost eligibility conditions in Article 6 of the Model Grant Agreement (MGA)

The updated FAQ is has just been updated and is available here.

Looking for more information?

Please find below more information and details, such as for instance the presentation issued by Dr Stefan Weiers describing the 2015 call for twinning (p.17-p.19).

S&T field/scope: H2020 general | Affilation and Pillar: Research and innovation community | Geographical focus: Danube Region, EU Member States

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  • Deadline on: 07.05.2015
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