Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

ÆRTOS Report Summary

Project ID: 219340
Funded under: FP7-GA
Country: Germany

Final Report Summary - ÆRTOS (Associated European Research and Technology Organisations)

The European research area net (ERA-NET) projects aim to create synergies among national research and development (R&D) programmes. They target programme owners, i.e. ministries or funding agencies. The ÆRTOS project appeared a little different in that the key actors were research and technology organisations (RTOs). However, the RTOs participating in ÆRTOS operated under a public mandate and hence were in essence public programmes.

The ÆRTOS participants were seven major research organisations from six Member States, namely Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden and Spain, and one Associated State, Norway. The European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO) played a role as subcontractor ensuring that the participating RTOs and their programme owners took into account RTO interests and structures in other Member States while actively promoting the results of the project to the wider RTO community.

ÆRTOS rationale was to foster greater RTO cooperation within Europe. The aim was to achieve important efficiency gains by exploiting synergies and avoiding duplication of effort, thereby further strengthening the European innovation potential.

ÆRTOS took the challenge to begin a new, integrated pan-European RTO infrastructure aimed at developing strategies and governance mechanisms to implement significant joint programmes using their own public funding. One main expected outcome of ÆRTOS was therefore the development of funding mechanisms enabling researchers from the project partners to apply internally for funds and to perform joint research activities, a unique procedure in Europe.

ÆRTOS took the challenge of fostering greater RTO cooperation in Europe. A unique procedure in Europe was implemented with the launch of a pilot programme, enabling researchers from the project partners to apply internally for funds and perform joint research activities. The high interest for cooperation and positive results of the first pilot led to another project, tackling European challenges in the area of waste management. ÆRTOS served also as a catalyst for implementing horizontal activities, such as the task force on human resources (HR). An accomplishment of this group was the setup of a management training programme as well as a joint HR policy of cross RTO border mobility.

In this way, ÆRTOS demonstrated its capacity for joint programming and for achieving important efficiency gains by exploiting synergies and avoiding duplication of effort, thereby further strengthening European innovation potential.

First of all, the results achieved in the project went far beyond the objectives originally agreed upon in the project proposal. ÆRTOS led to a number of strategic initiatives and cooperations, such as a pilot programme, horizontal actions in the field of HR and the generation of a green paper and strategic research agendas.

The first meetings, workshops and study visits aimed at understanding the RTOs strategies and operations. They served as a basis to discover synergies and establish a structured collaboration on specific programmes. A project analysis from RTO cooperation under the Sixth Framework Programme manifested that there was already a great amount of collaboration. However, this cooperation was largely stimulated through European Union project funding and usually ended when the relevant project ended. A comparative study, or inventory list, was drafted that not only helped to better understand each RTO way of working but also to give recommendations for developing joint programmes. It laid the strategic foundations for the deployment of resources for operative project collaboration. A workshop on identification and exchange of good practices served to select, out of a spectrum of possibilities, the most appropriate ones.

This led to the first milestone, the successful implementation of a first pilot programme among the ÆRTOS partners. Setting up a whole pilot programme went far beyond the original project plan which foresaw only a 'quick start pilot project' as first step. The pilot programme started in 2010 with a budget of EUR 2.7 million, self financed by ÆRTOS partners. Six projects were launched in total in the areas of energy efficient buildings and off-shore wind energy. All projects were successfully completed by the end of the reporting period.

ÆRTOS also served as a catalyst to develop strategic RTO cooperation in joint horizontal actions. A joint task force on HR was set up, including partners from outside ÆRTOS. Already at the first meeting in January 2009 the idea was born to develop an international project management scheme for upcoming high potential project managers. An important result was the launch of a first pilot for a project management training programme in 2011. A second pilot was planned for 2012. These results went also beyond the original project objectives.

Collaboration on project level was successfully continued by the identification of strategic topics which had the potential to become a new ÆRTOS programme. Five strategic topics, namely bio-based economies, value from waste, resilient cities, service science and scarcity of critical materials, were identified for further cooperation. Workshops on each topic were conducted, resulting in the development of strategic research agendas both as separate stand alone documents and summarised in the form of a green paper, a further milestone of the project.

The green paper identified critical themes for the European Union and Member States, in relation to societal grand challenges, joint programming initiative and other Horizon 2020 objectives, and where ÆRTOS member organisations expected to make a significant contribution. The successful cooperation led to the launch of the 'Value from waste' project. The focus laid on two major emerging issues with respect to future value from waste:

1. scarce metals recovery, separation and reuse
2. safe management of nanowaste.

The project aimed at developing innovative and profitable methods for recycling scarce materials, thus enabling Europe to lead the way in exploiting existing materials. Furthermore, it focussed on analysing the effect of nanowaste on the environment and on existing methods for extracting recyclable fractions in order to increase the degree of sustainable recycling. The 'Value from waste' project started in 2012 with a budget of EUR 3.5 million and was self financed by ÆRTOS partners.

The future tasks of ÆRTOS laid in developing a consolidated governance structure for the sustainable development of ÆRTOS cooperation. After having identified and analysed different governance models, the ÆRTOS board chose to continue the cooperation of the ÆRTOS partners within the ÆRTOS community. The community would facilitate and govern specific programmes under a strategic research agenda and horizontal actions towards long term strategic objectives. It would further accompany and monitor currently running projects, such as 'Value from waste'.

ÆRTOS took the challenge of fostering greater RTO cooperation in Europe. A unique procedure in Europe was implemented with the launch of a pilot programme, enabling researchers from the project partners to apply internally for funds and perform joint research activities. The high interest for cooperation and positive results of the first pilot led to another project, tackling European challenges in the area of waste management. ÆRTOS also served as a catalyst for implementing horizontal activities, such as the task force on HR. An accomplishment of this group was the set up of a management training programme as well as a joint HR policy of cross RTO border mobility.

In this way, ÆRTOS demonstrated its capacity for joint programming and achieving important efficiency gains by exploiting synergies and avoiding duplication of effort, thereby further strengthening European innovation potential. Further information on its activities could be obtained by the project coordinator, Dr Jens Neugebauer, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, telephone: +49-891-2054729, fax: +49-891-205774729, email: jens.neugebauer@zv.fraunhofer.de , or at the project website http://www.aertos.eu.

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Reported by

FRAUNHOFER-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FOERDERUNG DER ANGEWANDTEN
13355 BERLIN
Germany
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