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European Transport NCP Alliance

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The European highway for National Contact Points

National Contact Points (NCPs) are a vital link between research communities in Member States and the EU's research funding instruments, such as the Framework Programmes. A European network for transport-related NCPs helps interested parties to find common solutions and standards.

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NCPs provide information, support and assistance to (potential) applicants for EU funding and contractors who have already received financing from Brussels. However, the key strength of NCPs, which operate independently in each Member State, is also their Achilles' heel. Their decentralisation and national orientation enable them to tailor their services to local needs. However, this also means that no consistent catalogue of services is available and that standards can vary widely. Financed by the EU, the 'European transport NCP alliance' (ETNA) project sought to tackle the challenge of fragmentation. The project partners conducted a systematic survey of the various structures, methodologies, priorities, resources and training regimes employed by NCPs operating in the transport sector. ETNA also organised training sessions and workshops on a wide range of topics such as the basic principles and operations of an NCP, legal and financial issues, and the role of European networks. In addition, the NCPs involved undertook 11 twinning exercises. The project team identified ways to improve partner search methodologies and tools, including a specially designed ETNA partner search tool. In order to facilitate and enhance communications across the network, ETNA launched a dedicated website and published 18 newsletters. Holding out as a sign of the project's success, the ETNAplus service that was launched during the project remains in operation.

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