Launched in 2000, the Lisbon Strategy had the objective of making Europe the most dynamic, knowledge based economy in the world by 2010. Within this strategy, the concept of the European Research Area (ERA) aimed at enhancing the central role of research in economic growth, by overcoming the fragmentation of national research efforts, and thus increasing the collective impact of European research. Launched in 2002, the ERA-NET scheme aims to support the realisation of the ERA by improving national and regional coordination of research and policy. Such cooperation leads to jointly managed and funded research programmes. The EU-funded NETWATCH OPERATIONAL PHASE project aimed to provide information and analysis on the nature and dynamics of the structure and activities of ERA-NETs as well as their role within and impacts on transnational cooperation in Europe. Specific analyses undertaken within the project were designed to provide policy input, and included: periodic mapping and monitoring of ERA-NET activities within the landscape of transnational cooperation in the EU; examination of the challenges and benefits of transnational research collaboration as well as the impacts of the ERA-NET instrument on research collaboration in Europe. The NETWATCH platform, working in close collaboration with ERALEARN, also sought to foster mutual learning on collaboration among the programme organisations, as well as broader stakeholders in the European research community. Work involved collection of information, design of the web platform, development of analytical perspectives and provision of policy inputs. The team conducted six comprehensive updates of the platform’s database on ERANET participants and their activities. ERA-NET coordinators were also able to independently update information related to their network. Continuous technical refinement to the platform led to accuracy improvements to the data model and to more complete and up to date information coverage. Other improvements were related to the user interface. The project developed and implemented an analytical framework, contributing to the understanding of transnational collaboration and its role in the ERA. The framework yielded several reports about the European collaboration landscape, plus further reports addressing impact assessment. On the basis of its analytical work, the project also provided input to policy debates, which included the production of four policy briefs, and support to the definition of framework conditions for Joint Programming in the EU. A dedicated Advisory Board was established by the project to provide strategic guidance and ensure its alignment with stakeholder needs. The project contributed to the content and organisation of the annual “ERA-NETs on stage” and Joint Programming stakeholder events. The NETWATCH OPERATIONAL PHASE significantly enhanced the availability of information on transnational cooperation and other joint activities. The group also comprehensively overviewed the cooperative landscape and relevant trends.
ERA-NET, European Research Area, transnational cooperation, policy debates