Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


HERITAGE PLUS Report Summary

Project ID: 618104
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT
Country: Italy

Periodic Report Summary 1 - HERITAGE PLUS (ERA-NET Plus on Cultural Heritage and Global Change Research)

Project Context and Objectives:
Heritage Plus Project is set in the European cultural heritage scenario, that is one of the world’s most diverse and rich patrimony attracting millions of visitors every year. Moreover, this heritage is an important component of individual and collective identity.
In both its tangible and intangible forms, cultural heritage contributes to the cohesion of the European Union and plays a fundamental role in the European integration by creating links between citizens.
European cultural heritage is of exceptional economic importance for the tourism industry. The market for conservation of this heritage is estimated at some EUR 5 billion per year. Moreover, in an urban context cultural heritage is proven to be an important asset to attract high educated and high income residents as well as a relevant driver of the development of creative and other industries.
The European cultural heritage is exposed to many threats such as climate change and pollution, increasing urbanization, mass tourism, human negligence, vandalism and even terrorism. Its protection is thus becoming a major challenge for decision-makers, stakeholders and citizens in Europe. Research into strategies, methodologies and tools and concerted actions, based on sound science, are needed to protect, strengthen and adapt Europe's unique cultural patrimony.
Europe’s cultural heritage is also an important asset in solving several societal challenges faced by Europe’s communities. As stated above, cultural heritage is of great economic importance, not only for tourism. It is a resource for inner-city rejuvenation and redevelopment. In important ways, cultural heritage can serve as an example “avant la letter” of the sustainable use of resources. Traditional ways of using the countryside act as a source of inspiration for dealing with problems related to climate change. Finally, cultural heritage takes central stage in local community building.
The protection of cultural heritage under global change conditions will be a major concern for decision makers and researchers in Europe. However, coordination is required to overcome the fragmentation of initiatives deriving from diverse and sometimes potentially conflicting approaches (research – administration – management – exploitation), the multiplicity and geographical dispersion of bodies and institutions involved with or in charge of cultural heritage, and the different local environmental, social and economic conditions. If there is a field in which joint action is required, this is cultural heritage, for its global value in human history and identity.

Heritage Plus is an Era-Net plus action which supports the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage (JPI CH) by proposing concrete solutions for pooling national expertise and resources and establishing closer and robust collaboration among the participating Member and Associated Countries in the field of cultural heritage. The 60 month-Project involves 18 Programme Owners and Programme Managers, all committed in the implementation of a Joint Call and resources for the coordination work. The Project started in October 2013.
The Heritage Plus action intends improving the coordination of national research and policies in the domain of cultural heritage. The main objective of the Project was to pool the necessary financial resources from the participating national programmes and the European Community. Thus, the specific objectives were:
• to launch a single Joint Call for Proposals for research projects – to be evaluated by this JPI Participants - in cultural heritage field
• to select high quality and innovative projects able to bring considerable changes in the conservation and evaluation of cultural heritage
• to monitor the implementation of the selected projects in order to support results dissemination and foster future likewise initiatives

Project Results:
Heritage Plus includes 4 Work Packages: WP1:Coordination and management; WP2:Preparation of the Joint Call; WP3:Implementation of the Joint Call; WP4:Project monitoring and impact assessment. All WPs have started; WP2 and Wp3 are already closed. The core of the Project was the implementation of a Joint Call (WP3), from month 6-18. The Call resulted a complex procedure based on 2 steps of evaluation, the pre-proposal one from which a shortlist of projects was selected and passed to the full-proposal one. Each step went through a remote evaluation, an ordinary evaluation and the final consensus given by the Management Board of the Project. Furthermore, it involved the JPI CH Scientific Committee, a pool of experts accurately selected by the Partners - and reflecting the diversity of the cultural heritage field (tangible, intangible, digital) – and all the Partners. The pre-proposal stage started in April 2014 and closed in July of the same year. The full-proposal stage - requiring from the applicants a more detailed proposal version, in terms of methodologies, consortium and activities execution, than the one submitted in the previous phase – started in August 5th and closed in March 18th-19th. Finally, 16 transnational research projects were selected out of 352 proposals submitted to the first step.
The successful number of submissions in the first pre-proposal step was the result of the activities carried out in WP2-Preparation of the Joint Call, going from month 1 to month 6 and managed by the UK Partner (AHRC). The already closed WP comprised two Tasks both referred to the preparatory phase of the joint call, when topics, criteria, and all necessary material have to be provided to possible applicants. During this phase the three topics of the Call were chosen, the guidelines and all supporting documents together with the Call announcement prepared, and a communication plan for promotional purposes disseminated among Heritage Plus Partners. The Joint Call was promoted on the institutional website, the Heritage Portal and other web portals connected to it, especially via the websites of the Partners ‘institutions. The number of applications reflects the effectiveness of the promotional strategy.
After the results of the Joint Call full-proposal step were communicated to the Leaders of the selected projects, the national funding agencies involved proceeded to sign the agreements with the research project teams. Even though the signature dates occurred in different times, all agreements were activated – and project actions started - between April and October 2015. WP4, started at month 13 and still ongoing under the leadership of the Netherlands Partner (RCE), aims at monitoring the projects granted. Ahead of the monitoring activity the procedure for annual reporting was developed and established. Within two weeks after the deadline for the first annual reporting, which was set at February 1 of 2016, all sixteen full reports were collected and used for the first annual monitoring report whose first results were presented at the Heritage Plus meeting in Brussels on February 2016, the 12th. Within the same WP4 an effective quantitative assessment of the Projects started. WP4 will be closed at month 60.
Finally, WP1 has been developing all along the implementation of the Project, from month 1 to month 60. MiBACT leads is but implies the full participation and efforts by all Project Beneficiaries. MiBACT plays the role of coordinator and supervisor of all activities. Coordination and management activities have been implementing through the organization of project meetings, especially during the Joint Call implementation phase, networking with the Project Partners, the experts, the Scientific Committee and the European Commission, coordinating the composition procedures of the International Peer Review Panel (IPRP), supporting the communication exchange with the applicants and the project granted.

Potential Impact:
Expected results are manifold. First, this collaborative approach provides a better use of public resources that here can be spent on research. Second, the gap between research and practical applications related to assessment, protection and management of cultural heritage may be significantly narrowed. This means that new innovative ideas, which can be transferred to public and private stakeholders and exploited in high value tools applied over the short to mid-term (max 2 years from the end of the project), are prioritized. Third, there will be and increasing quality of research at European, national and regional level in the field of cultural heritage research, which takes on even more relevance considering the fragmentation of this area.
Heritage Plus effectively affects the existing coordination of the various stakeholders dealing with cultural heritage, including SMEs, heritage owners, public administrations, research partners and local communities. The Project Partners are all key ministries or agencies within their national systems, and some have had considerable experience in working together through the JPI CH. The Project’s impact on national systems will have the benefit of creating trans-national research initiatives and/or opening them up to a wide portfolio of objectives and a wider range of research institutions. It will encourage cost effectiveness and a far higher degree of agreed common research prioritization on a European scale. These will improve the level, the quality and the relevance of research by cross-fertilization but also make the results available not only to a European audience but to worldwide consumers. The competitiveness of European SMEs, which are world leaders in the production of equipment, models, tools and materials for cultural heritage conservation and exploitation, is the result of EU investment in research.
As the core of the Project, the effectiveness of the Joint Call – measured by the results of the granted research projects – can tell us much about the socio-economic implications of the whole action. What has been registered so far is a notable scientific output including peer review publications at 28%, other scientific publications at 27% and diverse scientific output - new technologies, new products, equipment, devices, patents, license agreements, invention disclosures, technology demonstrators among others – at 45%. Another important indicator is the external networking activity carried out by the research projects that involved a number of stakeholders including policy makers, cultural heritage community, parallel international initiatives and industries/SMEs/civil society being by far the largest group involved. This picture refers to a total 1.842 people involved in projects activities. Almost all projects have been showing a satisfying level of dissemination and knowledge transfer, especially via website and the participation to focus seminars, which allow enhancing further the impacts of the whole Project. Furthermore, almost all project teams have shown great interest in participating in future actions focused on the dissemination of their outputs. This trend necessarily leads to a better understanding among the Partners of research cooperation and contributes to improve the interdisciplinary basis for the establishment of collaborative research at a transnational regional level. At a wider level, and drawing on this positive experience of collaboration, the national representatives involved in Heritage Plus will share expertise and exchange best practice. A further consequence is expected: a tighter coordination of national research activities and policies in the domain of cultural heritage by cross-learning between the funding participants.

List of Websites:


Antonia Pasqua Recchia, (Secretary-General)
Tel.: +390667232002
Fax: +390667232705
Record Number: 193197 / Last updated on: 2017-01-16
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