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Future and Emerging Technologies

Find the most recent information on EU Funding activities in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by visiting our ICT in FP7 website , which covers ICT in the 7 th Framework Programme (FP7) 2007 - 2013.

Find the most recent information on Future and Emerging Technologies activities in
the 7th Framework Programme 2007-2013 on our FET Proactive   - FET Open Web sites.


Networks of Excellence of Proactive Initiatives in FP6

In the context of a proactive initiative, NoEs will have a specific role: they should bring together the broader community active in the research domain of the initiative in order to provide a framework of co-ordination for research, training and related activities, and allow the progressive and lasting integration of these activities around pre-specified themes.

The Joint Programme of Activity (JPA) of a NoE will be the vehicle for achieving the objectives of the network in terms of technology development, integration of resources, and community-building. The JPA component activities are described in the reference document mentioned above. Further examples of activities a NoE could have as part of a proactive initiative include the following:

Integrating activities

  • The NoE should help elaborate and maintain a research roadmap for the area of the proactive initiative, in co-operation with the IPs. The roadmap should reflect the breadth of approaches and the synergies expected between disciplines.
  • Setting up joint research platforms : this may include common electronic data repositories, common access to crucial data, common computer networks and platforms or research facilities, etc.
  • European centres of interdisciplinary studies : A NoE could provide start-up funds for setting up centres for interdisciplinary studies, in areas relevant to the initiative as a whole, that would host researchers from different disciplines and countries for limited periods of time. A NoE could also award grants to finance long-term visits of researchers in such centres.

Research activities

  • A NoE can support small joint research projects that should be selected on a competitive basis . Research in such projects should be relevant to the initiative as a whole - e.g. filling gaps in the knowledge portfolio, may be more open-ended than research supported in the integrated project(s), or can test the feasibility or credibility of very new research ideas and concepts. Preference should be given to research crossing borders between disciplines.

In general, NoE research funding should increase the mobility of researchers both across countries and across disciplines involved in the initiative.

Spreading excellence

  • A NoE will ensure a broad dissemination of research results emanating from the proactive initiative, stimulate industrial and commercial interest, and enhance the public visibility of the research. Means of dissemination include electronic repositories of articles, organisation of conferences, workshops, and meetings with potentially interested companies to stimulate industry interest.
  • The NoE will develop an effective framework for training of researchers where topics and researchers can be selected on a competitive basis and through open procedures. The organisation of summer schools - possibly making the teaching material available on-line - could in some cases be helpful in promoting the integration of the different disciplines involved.
  • Setting up joint university curricula spanning different countries and/or disciplines. This is particularly important for research that is highly interdisciplinary and therefore not represented in the standard university curricula.

FAQ on FET Networks of Excellence

How will NoE's be used in FET ?

The IST workprogramme for 2003-2004 specifies that, in the case of FET, NoEs may be used only in the context of FET proactive initiatives . The FET-Open domain does not accept NoE proposals. Furthermore, FET is specific regarding the intended scope and operation of NoEs within proactives; in addition to the general description , FET provides further guidance through the workprogramme, the related text on the FET web site, and the background text for each proactive initiative.

What would then be the role of NoEs within proactive initiatives?

The workprogramme says that NoEs "would bring together the research community active in the research domain of the initiative in order to provide a framework of coordination of research and training activities at the European level, and allow the progressive and lasting integration of these activities around pre-specified themes." It also specifies that FET does not expect to have more than one NoE per proactive initiative.

The meaning of "integration" in FET may refer to the emergence of an integrated research community where previously several communities existed (multidisciplinary integration), and the restructuring of the way research is done in Europe in a certain area in a progressive and lasting manner. The latter may include the establishement of "distributed" (or virtual) centres of excellence. For example, having a NoE where say 10 partners jointly plan and fully cooperate in their research may not be sufficient; they would also need to achieve multidisciplinary integration and/or have a strategic impact in the research agenda and the way research is done in the particular area (and not only by these 10 partners).

Is there anything else that is specific about the use of NoEs in FET?

Yes, openness. A FET NoE has to remain open to the broad scientific community active in the area of a proactive initiative. This will be essential for carrying out its strategic, coordination and "spreading of excellence" functions; closed self-serving "clubs" of partners will not be supported. For example, if you lay down a European strategy for quantum computing that is shared only by a limited number of partners and not by the broader community then this is half-effective; or, if you have a researcher mobility/training scheme that is open only to network member institutions then you reduce your chances to attract bright young talent to the community; etc. Be open, however, does not necessarily imply admitting everyone as a partner of the network. Research groups outside the network should be able to participate to the network research activities and activities to spread excellence even though they are not contractors.

As a result of this openness, FET demands that a significant portion of the budget be allocated to activities aimed to spread excellence to organisations and individuals outside the network. For example training and fellowship schemes, research grants, conferences etc.

Another key point is that FET NoEs are recommended to have long term scientific and/or technological objectives (in addition to their integration objectives). These provide the focal points around which to structure the NoE activities and build the "progressive and lasting integration" of the research community.

Can you give me examples of other activities that an NoE could have?

The web links given above provide a categorisation of types of activities and several examples. Within the workprogramme, FET explicitly requests that NoEs operate activities for roadmapping, dissemination (not only of results originating from the NoE partners but for the initiative as a whole), enhancing the public visibility of the area, etc. In addition, NoEs may establish and run shared facilities and infrastructure, and research and training schemes, on a competitive basis. The purpose of these research and training activites is to draw new blood (both in terms of research ideas and people) to the network and achieve multidisciplinary integration around its long term S&T goals. Research would need to complement the work carried out within the integrated projects, tackling work of an exploratory nature or testing the credibility of new ideas.

How about budget?

This is calculated on the basis of the number of researchers "to be integrated" as explained in the official texts. Note that the eligible cost of the work undertaken in an NoE should exceed the Community financial contribution. Also note that that the researcher "headcount" per partner (on the basis of which the total grant is estimated) does not necessarily correlate to how the funds will actually be distributed to and spent by the partners. Instead, the funding should be allocated to the partners according to the needs of the network in order to implement the Joint Programme of Activities.