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H2020

CONCERT Report Summary

Project ID: 662287

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CONCERT (European Joint Programme for the Integration of Radiation Protection Research)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Issue being addressed
The ‘CONCERT-European Joint Programme for the Integration of Radiation Protection Research’ under Horizon 2020 aims to contribute to the sustainable integration of European and national research programmes in radiation protection. CONCERT as a co-fund action strives to achieve the attraction and pooling of national research efforts in Radiation Protection with EURATOM research programmes in order to make better use of public R&D resources and to tackle common European challenges in radiation protection more effectively by joint research efforts in key areas. In order to rise to this challenge CONCERT is operating as an umbrella structure for the research initiatives jointly launched by the radiation protection research platforms MELODI, ALLIANCE, NERIS and EURADOS.
Given the limited, indeed even diminishing resources available nationally, in Europe and globally for research on radiation effects in humans and the environment and for radiation protection, and the loss of scientific as well as professional competence in recent years, every opportunity needs to be taken to tailor research activities to the needs of society, authorities and stakeholders, to develop synergies and economies of scale between national competent institutions in this field, particularly to link access to research infrastructures to international research efforts, and to optimise impact of the EURATOM RTD programme by further integrating the radiation protection related education and training activities across Europe.
CONCERT strives to stimulate the contribution of Member States to the development of a joint European strategic research agenda (SRA) in the field of radiation protection. This research agenda has to be multidisciplinary in science, tailored to societal needs, make full use of newly gained knowledge in all disciplines of life sciences and humanities and to fully integrate education and training especially for the young generation to build up and maintain competences needed for a successful, harmonious and sustainable radiation protection regime in Europe today and in future.

Importance for society
CONCERT has the mission to address as well as further reduce uncertainties in the assessment and management of radiation risks to humans and to the environment by targeted science. The promotion of joint national and European research and other co-funded integration activities will ensure that human health risks and possible impacts on the environment are better understood and quantified and that radiation protection strategies are optimised. This will be achieved by an open exchange of knowledge and information between scientists, regulators, stakeholders involved and society as a whole.

Overall objectives
CONCERT is focussing resources and efforts in the following five key directions:
1) Bring together the elements of the European scientific communities in the fields of radiation effects and risks, radioecology, nuclear emergency preparedness, dosimetry and medical radiation protection, whose joint expertise is essential to continue the development of radiation protection knowledge in a multidisciplinary mode to reduce further the uncertainties in radiation protection.
2) Strengthen integrative activities between the various areas of expertise, in particular biology, biophysics, epidemiology, dosimetry and modelling as well as fostering the use of existing infrastructures and education and training activities in radiation protection.
3) Stimulate and foster scientific excellence, by setting up and co-funding advanced research programmes with the potential to enhance current knowledge and the scientific evidence base for radiation protection.
4) Exchange and communicate with all stakeholders, including the professional organizations concerned with radiation protection, the regulatory organizations across Europe, the public and media where necessary, and the international community of scientific, technical, legal and other professional experts in radiation protection.
5) Foster the harmonious application of available scientific basis for radiation protection practices across Europe, by bringing together scientific and technical expertise in radiation protection issues, standard setting know how, particularly with respect to the implementation of the Euratom Basic Safety Standards (BSS) at the legal, administrative and operational level.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Main achievements of the first project year were:
• Development of a joint SRA bringing together the SRAs of the EURATOM Research Platforms in Radiation Protection as basis of the call text
• Successful launch of the 1st transnational and open CONCERT Call for Proposals (2016)
• Successful launch of two E&T Call for Courses
o CONCERT courses and travel grants strengthen European competence in radiation science by exchange and training of junior scientists.
• CONCERT actively supported the establishment of a Research Platform in the field of Radiation Protection in Medicine - EURAMED
CONCERT is structured in seven work packages (WPs) to achieve an efficient realisation of the project’s objectives and implementation of the bottom-up approach towards developing, delivering, match-making and promoting of a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for radiation science. Until May 2016 the following work has been conducted and main results achieved under the seven WPs are:

WP1 – Project management
The project’s kick-off meeting took place in Munich, June 2015, with representatives of all beneficiaries. A Consortium Agreement between all 32 CONCERT beneficiaries was established. During the first year, two amendments of the Grant Agreement have been started. The 1st amendment was mainly related to the financial support to third parties and this amendment was a prerequisite for the start of the 1st open CONCERT R&D call in June 2016. The 2nd amendment is related to the accession of new beneficiaries to CONCERT and focuses on new POMs, some of them from member states not jet represented in CONCERT. This amendment was just filed and is expected to be accepted by the European Commission later this year. WP 1 deliverables were submitted in time. A summary report of the activities carried out during the first month on CONCERT’s projects progress (D1.1) and all deliverables that have been due so far were submitted to the European Commission. All milestones scheduled in this phase were achieved. The 1st transnational and open CONCERT Call for Proposals was prepared and published in year one of CONCERT after approval by the European Commission.

CONCERT Work package 2 concerns integration and SRA development in radiation protection research. Supported by CONCERT the radiation protection research platforms MELODI, ALLIANCE, NERIS and EURADOS updated their respective Strategic Research Agendas (SRA) and recommended Research Priorities (RP). Currently the platforms are developing respective research road maps. The SRA Statements and RPs were independently published by MELODI, ALLIANCE, NERIS and EURADOS after they were approved by the platforms. In addition to the already established platforms CONCERT supported the establishment of a Research Platform in the field of Radiation Protection in Medicine and discussed the integration of social sciences and humanities in its integrative activities as well as in research projects funded in open calls. Last but not least CONCERT made contacts to regulators to gather research needs for a better implementation of the revised European Basic Safety Standards.

The activities of CONCERT Work package 3 included (1) to collect information on research needs in the field of radiation protection (2) to initiate joint programming between the platform research programmes and priorities, (3) to structure the research needs in radiation science into 2 main call topics with highest priorities, (4) to describe these 2 recommended call priorities (5) to review lessons learned from previous research calls in EC –funded projects such as DoReMi, OPERRA and COMET, (6) to evaluate whether and which specific call rules can be adopted or should be adapted to this specific open call, and (7) to formulate recommendations to the MB regarding call documents and call conditions for the 1st CONCERT call. The two call priorities proposed were (1) Improvement of health risk assessment associated with low dose/dose rate radiation and (2) Reducing uncertainties in human and ecosystem radiological risk assessment & and management in nuclear emergencies and existing exposure situations, including NORM. Call priorities and call condition recommendations are based on experience gained in former projects such as DoReMi, OPERRA and COMET were presented to and with minor changes approved by the CONCERT MB in Munich on 12 November 2015. Call preparation and research priorities were presented at the CONCERT call info day in Munich, 27 January 2016. Preparation for the CONCERT open call was done in close interaction between WP2 and WP3. After approval by the CONCERT MB the CONCERT Coordinator passed on the CONCERT recommendations for the 1st open CONCERT call to WP4 for the finalisation.

Work package 4 set up the procedures and prepared all the documents of the 1st transnational and open CONCERT Call for Proposals (2016) on the basis of the CONCERT recommendations prepared in WP2 and WP3. WP4 launched the call on 2nd June 2016, after acceptance of the first amendment to the Grant Agreement and after approval of the call text as well as the call conditions by the European Commission. A pre-announcement of the call was already launched by WP 4 in December 2015.
In order to further support the dissemination of information with regard to the scientific content and the participation conditions of the first open call of CONCERT, an Information Day was organised by the coordinator on 27 January 2016 in Munich. More than 120 scientists from 22 countries participated in this event and took the opportunity to actively present their research area and their interests in the CONCERT call as well as the opportunity to find partners and start first discussion for building consortia and preparing joint proposals.

CONCERT Work package 5 concerns stakeholder engagement activities. Good progress has been made in identifying the skills and experience existing within the WP5 partners. A Stakeholder Strategy has been written, reviewed and published on the CONCERT website (see http://www.concert-h2020.eu/~/media/Files/Concert/Stakeholders/D5_1_CONCERT.pdf?la=en).
Approaches to engagement activities have been discussed extensively, refined and will increasingly become the focus in later years of the CONCERT EJP.

In the first year, Work package 6 partners had 4 main objectives according to increase the visibility and use of key research infrastructures: (1) to prepare infrastructure evaluation criteria and to compile a list of infrastructures (2) to prepare regular information about infrastructures, (3) to develop harmonized practices and protocols to strengthen and expand databases from past radiobiological experiments and from stored biological material, (4) to develop strategies for facilitating access to infrastructures. A bulletin named “AIR²” “Access to Infrastructures for Radiation protection Research” was created. Several issues have been published. The bulletin is accessible online at the CONCERT website on http://www.concert-h2020.eu/en/Concert_info/Access_Infrastructures/Bulletins.

Work package 7 of CONCERT is dedicated to education and training (E&T) for the development and maintenance of the expertise and competence of the community of research scientists working in the area of radiation protection research. The specific activities organised by the work package, and funded as integration activities, included: (1) Setting up a programme of student travel grants to allow students to attend relevant training courses at other institutions, or attend conferences to present their work; (2) Launching two calls for short courses in topics important for radiation protection research, aimed particularly at students entering the field or young researchers and (3) Encouraging the career development of new scientists entering the field through interaction with the European Radiation Research Association for Young Scientists (EURAYS, http://www.eurays.eu/ ).
As well as these initiatives, WP7 is holding an annual Forum in association with the MELODI Workshop, to strengthen the integration of E&T institutions within radiation protection, and working with WP2 and WP3 to promote the integration of E&T into research projects funding under the CONCERT calls.
In order to further the policy of developing and maintaining expertise in the radiation protection research community, CONCERT is offering travel awards to junior scientists. The Call for Travel Grants is housed on the CONCERT website on http://www.concert-h2020.eu/en/Calls/Call_travel_grants. Four rounds of applications will be held each year, one during each quarter.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

CONCERT supported the development of strategic research agendas, the recommendation of research priorities and the development of research road maps in all major sectors of radiation protection research via the platform activities of MELODI, ALLIANCE, NERIS, and EURADOS. In addition CONCERT stimulated a similar development in the field of radiation protection in medicine. From these sectorial strategic research programmes and research priorities CONCERT extracted by joint programming major research priorities for the first open CONCERT call. The call was successfully launched on 2 June 2016. Deadline for proposals was the 2 August 2016. The proposals are currently reviewed by independent reviewers within a firewall like system to prevent conflict of interest issues from arising. The successful projects will be funded by a co-funding mechanism between European Commission and national Programme Manager institutions.
Parallel to the research funding activities CONCERT started the development of a research agenda in social sciences and humanities in relation to radiation protection to be included as an integral part in future research projects funded by CONCERT. Further priorities of CONCERT’s integrative activities are the development of a joint research roadmap for all radiation protection research sectors, increased education and training activities for young scientists and provisions for optimal use of European research infrastructures for radiation protection research.
These integrative activities of CONCERT together with the research funding activities will stimulate multidisciplinary work in research and translational work towards societal needs in radiation protection for the general public, for workers, for patients and for the environment.

Related information

Record Number: 192795 / Last updated on: 2016-12-14
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