Proposals in IST Call 1
Frequently asked questions (version 1.0; 2 April 2003)
All the documents referred to here are obtained by following links from the IST web site at /ist/
Other FAQs are available for organisations interested in participating in the IST FET Open action, and there are also specific FAQs concerning Integrated projects and Networks of excellence
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 for research work ?
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 research work the IST Priority will help to fund ?
You must read the IST Priority Workprogramme - the current edition covers the years 2003-2004. This describes in detail the "Strategic objectives" which the Priority is trying to achieve during this time. Then you must read the Call text of any call, which is currently open. This identifies specifically which of these Strategic objectives are open for proposals at the moment, and for which instruments.
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?
Fuller details of all these types of instrument can be found via the IST website.
- 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).
I have heard of other instruments - Integrated infrastructure initiatives, special contracts for small and medium enterprises...?
There are indeed other instruments used in other Priorities, but the IST Priority only uses these five, IP, NOE, STREP, CA, SSA.
Can I propose any one of these types of instrument for any one of the Strategic objectives in the call ?
In the current call, yes. But in later calls we may restrict certain of the Strategic objectives to only certain sorts of instrument. You will have to check this by carefully reading the call text.
What if I send you a proposal for work in a Strategic objective, which is in your Workprogramme but not included in your current call ?
We will reject it as being out of scope of the call, without evaluation. When we are ready to fund that Strategic objective, we will do so in a public call for proposals.
Can I send you a proposal for work, which includes two or three IST Strategic 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 strategic objectives open in the current IST call. If the main weight lies in another Priority's call you should submit it to that priority. If we find that the main weight of a proposal we have received, we will transfer it to them for evaluation if there is a call open. And if the main weight lies in objectives (either ours or another Priority's) which are not open, we will reject it as being out of scope without evaluation.
How do I find out how to write a proposal ?
Full details of how to prepare and submit a proposal are given in the IST Guides for proposers, obtainable on our call page. There are five Guides, one for each instrument type, because the required structure of the proposal is different for each instrument type.
(note: IST's Strategic objectives are called "Activity codes" on the A1 forms used in proposal preparation)
Can I submit my proposal electronically ?
Yes. On the IST call page you will find a link to the Electronic Proposal Submission Service (EPSS). This allows you to prepare a proposal (which you may of course do "off-line") then it submit electronically. You can also use the EPSS tool to prepare part A of the proposal and then submit it on paper backed up by a CD ROM or floppy disk with the electronic version of the proposal (EPSS files for part A and electronic format (pdf or rtf files) for part B).
What are the advantages of electronic submission ?
The EPSS helps you to prepare the proposal by giving you the right forms, with easy-to-use dropdown lists for data entry and automatic addition of figures wherever possible, and then a template for preparing the text part (Part B) of your proposal.
There is also an "overwrite" facility. You can submit a version of your proposal in good time, then keep working on it and submit it again. The new version overwrites the old one. So you can keep on improving your proposal right up to the close of call!
What should I be aware of when using electronic submission?
Especially two issues:
Firstly, in order to use the EPSS for on line submission you need to register to get passwords for yourself and your consortium partners. These passwords allow you to protect the confidentiality of your proposal file. The passwords are sent to you, for security reasons, by conventional mail. Therefore you cannot leave registration to the last minute !
Secondly, when you finally submit the proposal file you have prepared, it will be virus-checked on arrival. If it is found to contain a virus, the submission will be refused. So you have to remember to virus-check your proposal !
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 miss out 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 ?
I can't see on your proposal forms where I have to sign them
You don't have to sign them.
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 ?
Yes, IST projects - apart from specific cases of proposals for Specific Support Actions - have to 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. Proposals for Specific Support Actions can in specific cases be submitted by one or more participants from the same country.
What is the minimum consortium requirement ?
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.
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.
Are there any exceptions to the rule of multinational consortia ?
Yes. Exceptionally, proposals for Specific support actions (SSAs) may come from any number of participants, including just one, from any country.
Do these other partners 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 ?
We have been contacted by an organisation presenting their proposal as "having a good chance" of being selected on the basis of positive feedback already received from Commission services. They are asking for an entry fee to incorporate new partners, in particular to SMEs, promising that the proposal is sure to be accepted.
The Commission is not favourable to such practices of "selling entry tickets" to proposals on the basis of presumed "good chances" of being funded. The Commission is in no way giving preferential treatment to one or the other consortium so that it would stand better chances in the evaluation. The evaluation process, carried out with the assistance of independent experts, will ensure the evaluation of the proposals according to objective and published criteria (guideline for evaluators, evaluation manual, guide for proposers, etc). Such practices go against the spirit of European co-operation and trust among participants, taking advantage of the lack of knowledge and awareness by some potential participants. Aware of this, we have highlighted in CORDIS (point GET SUPPORT) the regular "partner search" facilities which are offering their services for free.
Are there any special steps I should take when preparing my proposal ?
Yes. We appreciate it if proposers can notify us of their intention to submit a proposal at /fp6/pre_registration.htm. This is of enormous assistance in planing for the evaluation of received proposals. Of course notifying an intention to submit a proposal never obliges you actually to submit a proposal, and notification is never obligatory - any proposal can always be submitted without notified to us in advance.
Anything else ?
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 do I send you my proposal ?
After preparing your proposal according to the instructions given in the Guide for proposers, you may submit it in several ways:
These are the only eligible means of submission. Do not send, deliver, fax or email your proposal to any other Commission office, the Commission will not take any responsibility for delivering it for evaluation.
- You can submit it electronically on line using the EPSS
- You can submit it by post, on paper or on CD-ROM or diskette with paper backup, to:
FP6 - Research proposals
- You can submit it by courier service or hand delivery, on paper or on CD-ROM or diskette with paper backup, to:
FP6 - Research proposals
Rue de Genève, 1
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 checked for eligibility. Only eligible proposals are evaluated by the independent experts. There are four eligibility criteria in the IST Call 1:
Proposals that do not meet these criteria will not proceed to evaluation by the independent experts.
- The proposal must have the necessary minimum number of multinational participants
- The proposal must address a Strategic 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 arrive before or at the call deadline
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. 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 1, 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 ?
At the end of the evaluation - around six weeks or so from the close of the call - 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 because of late arrival or one of the other 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 /experts/fp6_candidature.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 at email@example.com. If you have technical questions about the contents of the various Strategic 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 ?
Deliver your proposal on time. In every call we reject 3-5% of proposals for late arrival. The evaluators' assessment of your proposal is very broad ranging, and covers every aspect of the project's workplan and the consortium involved in it. There is nothing you can do in the last hours of a call to make a proposal significantly better, but holding on to it a little bit too long might just ensure that it is rejected !
If I have other questions on the rules for IST projects ?
Contact the IST Priority Information Desk:
The IST Information Desk
Directorate General Information Society