New project forms in the 6th Frame Programme

In the 6FP entirely new project forms will be established to create knowledge: Integrated Projects (IP) and Networks of Excellence (NoE).
In the 6FP entirely new project forms will be established to create knowledge: Integrated Projects (IP) and Networks of Excellence (NoE).

(From the Cordis homepage)

Integrated projects
The integrated project is being designed to generate the knowledge required to implement the priority themes by integrating the critical mass of activities and resources needed to achieve ambitious clearly defined scientific and technological objectives. Each integrated project should be aimed either at increasing the Europe’s competitiveness or at addressing major societal needs. The integrated project is therefore an instrument to support objective-driven research, where the primary deliverable is new knowledge. Of course, by mobilising a critical mass of resources, integrated projects can also be expected to have a structuring effect on the fabric of European research.

Each project must contain a research component and may contain technological development and demonstration components, as appropriate, as well as a training component. A project may be at any point in the research spectrum. A single project may indeed span large parts of the spectrum, i.e. from basic to applied research. The effective management of knowledge, and its dissemination and transfer, will also be an essential feature of each integrated project as well as, where relevant, the analysis and assessment of the technologies developed and of the factors relating to their exploitation. Projects may also include support for the take-up of new technologies, in particular by SMEs.

Scale of the critical mass
Critical mass will differ widely in scale from field to field, for example from the social sciences to aeronautics research, and possibly also from topic to topic inside a field. The over-riding criterion for judging critical mass will simply therefore be the qualitative one that an integrated project must have ambitious objectives and must mobilise whatever activities and resources are needed to achieve those objectives. The value of the activities integrated by a project are expected to range up to many tens of millions of euros. However, there will be no minimum threshold, provided of course that the necessary ambition and critical mass are there.

Size of partnership
There must be a minimum of three participants from three different countries. However, in practice, there are likely to be substantially more participants and probably, on average, somewhat more than the figure of nine seen in the RTD projects of FP5.

Integrated projects are expected to have a duration of typically three to five years. However, there will be no maximum, so a longer duration could be accepted if it is necessary to deliver the objectives of a project.

Networks of Excellence
The network of excellence is being designed to strengthen excellence on a particular research topic by networking together the critical mass of resources and expertise needed to be world force in that topic. This expertise will be networked around a joint programme of activity aimed primarily at creating a progressive and lasting integration of the research activities of the network partners while, of course, at the same time advancing knowledge on the topic. It is important that these networks do not act as “closed clubs” and strengthen excellence only within the network. Each network will, as a consequence, also be given a mission to spread excellence beyond the boundaries of its partnership. The network of excellence is therefore an instrument designed primarily to address the fragmentation of European research on a particular research topic, where the main deliverable should be a durable restructuring and reshaping of the way that research is carried out on that topic. Of course, by investing money in a partnership of excellent teams, the networks can also be expected to generate knowledge, though this is not their main purpose. What constitutes a joint programme of activity? A joint programme of activity (JPA) will consist of at least three components:
  • first, a programme of jointly executed research, possibly of a long-term character;
  • second, a set of integrating activities designed to help bring about the restructuring and reshaping of how the partners carry out research on the topic. This will certainly include the coordinated programming of the partners’ activities in research, training and support services. It may also include the creation of research facilities and research platforms for common use, staff mobility and exchanges, the relocation of staff, perhaps of whole teams and equipment, and the reinforcement of electronic communication networks to support interactive working between the teams involved;
  • third, a set of activities designed to spread excellence, for example, dissemination and communication activities (including raising public awareness and understanding of science), the training of researchers especially from outside the network and, more generally, networking activities to help transfer knowledge to teams external to the network. All the network’s activities should be carried out within a unified management structure.
Scale of the critical mass
Each network of excellence is expected to have ambitious goals and to assemble the critical mass of resources and expertise needed to achieve those goals. It is not possible to fix a value for this critical mass as it will vary from topic to topic. However, some of the larger networks can be expected to involve several hundreds of researchers. Of course, networks may be of a much more limited size, but the necessary ambition and critical mass must be there.

Duration of the Community support
The duration of the Community support is another important aspect of critical mass, since a network must be supported long enough for its integration to take on a lasting nature. Support, in many cases, may therefore be needed for five years and perhaps more.

Size of the partnership
There must be a minimum of three participants from three countries. However, as an indication, there should generally not be less than six participants. A minimum number may be specified in the relevant call for proposals.

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