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Proposals in IST Call 4

Frequently asked questions (version 1.0; 16th November 2004)

All the documents referred to here are obtained by following links from the IST web site at /ist/

Standard Disclaimer
These Frequently Asked Questions does not supersede the rules and conditions laid out, in particular, in Council and Parliament Decisions relevant to the Sixth Framework Programme, the IST Priority, the Model contract, Call for proposals or the Evaluation Guidelines. They are provided as a help to specific questions and present only the current view of the Information desk of the IST programme of the Directorate-General for Information Society of the European Commission. Readers should not regard these views as a statement of the official position of the European Commission.

How does the IST Priority offer funding ?
We do so only by a series of public calls for proposals. There is no "behind the scenes" way of getting funding. We announce what sort of projects we are interested in, and (usually) give a fixed deadline in which proposals must be received. This way, everybody knows what the possibilities are, and everybody gets an equal chance.

How do I find out what sort of work the IST Priority will help to fund ?
You must read the IST Priority Workprogramme 2005-2006. This describes in detail the objectives which the Priority is trying to achieve from this call and the instruments which can be proposed.

These are the different types of project, which the Priority will fund. They are called instruments because we use different "contractual instruments" (types of contract) for each one, which have differing terms and conditions.

What are these types of instrument ?
We fund research projects by two means; the "Integrated project" (IP) and the "Specific targeted research project" (STREP). An IP is intended to be broader in scope and ambition than a STREP.

  • We can provide funds for co-ordinating existing research projects - either just IST projects or including other projects also - in order to increase their benefits or impact etc. This is done by means of "Co-ordination action" (CA) contracts.
  • Other work in support of the Priority can be funded by "Specific support action" (SSA) contracts.
  • We also have an instrument designed to support the structuring and shaping of Europe's research capacity. This is the "Network of excellence"(NoE).
Fuller details of all these types of instrument can be found via the IST website.

Can I propose any one of these types of instrument for any one of the objectives in this call?
No. Each objective has specified a limited range of instruments it is calling for. They are listed in the call text and in the IST Workprogramme 2005-2006

What if I send you a proposal for a STREP, say, for an objective which is calling for IP and NoE proposals ?
We will reject it as being out of scope of the call, without evaluation

Can I send you a proposal for work, which includes more than one of these objectives. Or maybe even including objectives of other FP6 priorities such as Life Sciences or Nanotechnologies ?
Yes, you may submit a cross-objective proposal. But to be evaluated for this call the main weight - or centre of gravity - of the proposal must lie in one of the objectives open in IST Call 4.
If the main weight of your proposal lies in another Priority's call you should submit it to that Priority. If we receive a proposal where the main weight lies in another Priority's call, we will transfer it to them.
If the main weight of your proposal lies in objectives which are not covered by any available open call, we will reject it without evaluation.

How do I find out how to write a proposal ?
Full details of how to prepare a proposal are given in the IST Guides for proposers, obtainable on our call page. There are five Guides, one for each instrument type open in this call, because the required structure of the proposal is different for each instrument type. (Note: objectives are called "Activity codes" on the A1 forms used in proposal preparation)

Remember, just because we have provided five Guide doesn't mean that all five instruments will be possible in the objective which you are targeting. Check the call text for your objective before preparing your proposal, to be sure that such a proposal is indeed being called for !

How do I submit my proposal ?
On the IST call page you will find a link to the Electronic Proposal Submission Service (EPSS). The proposal coordinator first need to register, to get a password or passwords for him/herself and the consortium partners. These passwords protect the confidentiality of your proposal file when you are preparing it, and then are needed again when you submit the proposal. You may prepare your proposal online or offline, then you submit it electronically. How to do this is explained in the Guides for proposers, and there are also detailed manuals for online and offline proposal preparation which you can download.

Is it better to choose the online or offline preparation method ?
We recommend you choose the online preparation method, in which you and your partners access our computer via the Internet, and you prepare your proposal in a shared space there. The offline method requires the proposal coordinator himself/herself to download the special proposal preparation tool (EPTool) and run it on their own computer, where the proposal is assembled by importing and exporting files between partners. This requires rather more technical knowledge, and has no real advantage compared with the online method.

What should I be aware of when using electronic submission?
Five key issues:

  • 1. Make sure you have registered for the right call, FP6-2004-IST-4 . Registering for the wrong call will mean that we do not receive your proposal .
  • 2. Proposers who are preparing their proposal online must remember that, even though it is already stored on our computer, it is not recognised as a complete proposal ready for submission until the proposal coordinator presses the "Submit" button. So don't forget to press the "Submit" button !
  • 3. And submission is when your proposal is uploaded and you have pressed the submit button. It is not when you commence the upload. So don't leave it too late to upload your proposal.
  • 4. When you finally submit the proposal file you have prepared, it will be virus-checked. If it is found to contain a virus, the submission will be refused, and you will be requested to clean the proposal and try again. So you should virus-check your proposal file before you try to submit it.
  • 5. The EPSS sets a maximum size of 10Mb per proposal (most proposals in fact are in the range 1-2Mb). If you try to submit an oversize proposal the submission will be refused, and you will be requested to reduce the size and try again.

Can I submit my proposal on paper, and not electronically using the EPSS ?
In exceptional cases, a proposal coordinator may request permission from the Commission to submit on paper. This should be done by writing to an address which is given in the Call text, well in advance of the call deadline. The request must be accompanied by an adequate explanation of why the exception is being sought (it is not sufficient merely to make the request). Proposers take the responsibility for ensuring that such requests for exemption and the associated procedures are completed in time for them to meet the call deadline.

Do I have to follow the format for a proposal, which you give in the Guide for proposers (and the EPSS)?
Yes. The format takes you through, section by section, the information on which your proposal will be evaluated. If you write it in some other way, or fail to complete some of the forms, you risk omitting information which is needed in the evaluation, and this may lead to low scores, or failure.

Do I have to write parts of my proposal in an "anonymous" way, as you requested in the last Framework programme ?

Some of the information you require in a proposal is very detailed, and complicated...
Running a large multinational research project is very detailed and complicated. Good proposals have always contained this degree of detail. If you find you haven't got this level of information available for your proposal, perhaps you should review your planning !

Do projects have to be proposed by a multinational consortium ?
Normally yes. We expect IST projects will be multinational in scope and ambition. If you plan research which involves only your own national goals, and includes only organisations from your own country, then it is to your own national government that you should turn for help.

What is the minimum consortium requirement in a proposal?
Your proposal must contain at least a minimum of THREE mutually independent participants:

  • two participants from different EU states or candidate countries Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK.
  • plus one more participant from another EU state or candidate country listed above, or from one of the other Associated states which are not candidate countries
    Liechtenstein, Iceland, Israel, Norway, Switzerland.
These conditions do not apply to Specific support action proposals.

Can a proposal include participants from other countries than these ?
When this minimum is achieved, you may then add participants from any other country in the world.

What is the minimum consortium requirement in a Specific Support action proposal ?
Exceptionally, proposals for Specific support actions (SSAs) may come from any number of participants, including just one, from any country.

Do partners which I may include from countries outside of the EU and Associated states get funded ?
If their country is on the list of International Co-operation (INCO) "target countries", they will get funding also within the limits of the available INCO resources. You can get the complete list from the INCO website /fp6/inco.htm , but in general it includes the remaining countries in Europe, and developing countries elsewhere in the world.

Are the participants from these other countries funded to the same level as the EU and Associated states participants in a project ?
Yes. Nationality plays no role in the amount of funding.

What about countries not on the INCO list ?
Organisations from countries which are not on the INCO list (main examples are the USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, China/Taiwan, Australia, South Africa...) may also participate in a project, but their possible funding will be subject to a series of conditions listed in the Rules for participation.

How can I find possible partners in other EU countries and Associated states ?

Do I have to notify you in advance that I am planning to submit a proposal ?
When you apply for your EPSS password you will be asked for some basic information about your planned proposal. This is of enormous assistance in planning for the evaluation of received proposals. Please complete as much information as you can, even with only tentative information - nothing you say involves you in any commitment.

Can you give me any sort of preliminary feedback on my proposal idea, before I do all the work involved in preparing a proposal ?
You can get in touch with the Commission contact person for the objective you are interested in, and discuss your ideas with him/her, and get their informal advice. Their contact details are available from the IST call page.

Is there anything else I should do when preparing my proposal ?
Yes. Prepare and sign with your partners a Consortium agreement, dealing with the relations between the partners once the project is running, the means of settling disputes etc. We strongly recommend that you to have such an agreement before we issue a contract, so the sooner the better. We do not need to examine the agreement and we do not interfere in it, but we do need to be assured that such an agreement has been made.

Does the Commission offer a model Consortium agreement ?
No. But we do offer advice on what main points the agreement should include, in a consortium checklist at /fp6/consortiumchecklist/

How does the Commission evaluate the proposals which they receive ?
The Commission evaluates the proposal with the assistance of experienced independent experts specially selected for this task.

Are all received proposals evaluated ?
All proposals are first checked for eligibility. Only eligible proposals are evaluated by the independent experts. There are five eligibility criteria in the IST Call 4:

  • The proposal must have the necessary minimum number of multinational participants
  • The proposal must address an objective which is open in the call
  • The proposal must be complete (it should contain two parts - see the Guides for proposers)
  • The proposal must have been submitted before or at the call deadline
  • The proposal must be submitted electronically, unless a special permission for paper submission was granted
Proposals that do not meet these criteria will not proceed to evaluation by the independent experts.

How do the independent experts evaluate my proposal ?
They assess it on five or six different criteria (depending on the instrument) covering such things as relevance to the IST Priority, potential impact, quality of the consortium etc. These evaluation criteria are fully described for each instrument in the IST Workprogramme 2005-2006. They give each proposal a score out of 5 on each of these criteria, and an overall score is calculated by simple addition; this is therefore out of 25 (if five criteria are used for the instrument) or 30 (if six criteria). The instructions to the evaluators are set out in the Guidance notes for evaluators for IST call 4, which can be downloaded from the call page.

And then how are proposals selected for funding ?
Each of the criteria has a threshold score, which a proposal must reach in order to be considered. There is also a threshold on the overall score. These thresholds are given in the IST Workprogramme. Proposals which fail to reach one or more of these thresholds are not considered for funding.

Then all the proposals which pass the evaluation thresholds are funded ?
No. Many more proposals pass they evaluation thresholds than we have the budget to pay for. The evaluators use the scores which they have given to list the proposal in priority order, and the Commission uses this list, and other advice which the evaluators give in their written reports, to guide its selection of proposals for funding.

How will I know the results of the evaluation of my proposal ?
After the evaluation is completed, in mid June 2005, every proposal co-ordinator (the lead partner in the proposal) will receive an "Evaluation Summary Report" - ESR - which details the evaluators' findings about their proposal.

And how will I know if my project will be funded ?
If your proposal did not pass the thresholds (or was excluded from evaluation on eligibility reasons) you will be able to see this immediately from your ESR.
If your proposal has passed all the evaluation thresholds you will be notified a few weeks after receiving the ESR either that:

  • you are now invited to contract negotiation
  • your proposal has been placed on the reserve list (this is in case budget becomes available for you due to other negotiations failing, or being agreed at lower-than-expected costs)
  • your proposal was ranked too low to be considered for funding.

Can I myself apply to work as an expert in an evaluation ? Even if I am not an EU citizen ?
Yes and yes. We constantly need good experts, with experience in this technological field (and a good knowledge of English - which is the working language in the evaluation). Apply at /fp6/experts.htm . If accepted, you will be asked to sign a conflict of interest declaration, so that of course you are never involved in the evaluation of one of your own proposals or of proposals competing with it.

Where can I get more help with my proposal ?
If you are planning a proposal, you should at once get in touch with your IST National Contact Point, whom you can identify at /fp6/ncp.htm . He or she can give you an enormous amount of help. If you have specific questions about proposing, contact the IST help desk. If you have technical questions about the contents of the objectives open in the current call, a list of European Commission contacts who can advise you is available from the IST call page.

A final piece of advice ?
Don't wait until the last minute to submit your proposal. At 17h00 on 22nd March 2005 the EPSS service for IST Call 4 will close. If you haven't submitted your proposal by that time, for whatever reason, you have missed the call.
The EPSS has an "overwrite" facility which means that each time you press the submit button, you overwrite the previous submission. We strongly advise you to submit a version of your proposal in good time, maybe a week before the deadline, then keep working on it and submit it again (and again!). You can keep on improving your proposal right up to the close of call.

If I have other questions on the rules for IST projects ?
Contact the IST Priority Information Desk:
European Commission
The IST Information Desk
Directorate General Information Society
BU31 01/19
B-1049 Bruxelles/Brussel
Phone: +32-2-296.8596
Fax: +32-2-296.8388

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