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Horizon 2020: Supporting NCPs and applicants in the field of energy

At the recent EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) conference in Brussels, team members from the C-ENERGY 2020 project presented progress in the field of energy under Horizon 2020 and the main opportunities and tools available to applicants.
Horizon 2020: Supporting NCPs and applicants in the field of energy
A total of 239 consortia for energy projects have now signed contracts with the Commission under Horizon 2020. National Contact Points (NCPs) for energy have been at the frontline of providing specialised advice on proposals to funding applicants to help them get to this point. The C-ENERGY 2020 project, a coordination and support action, comprises a consortium integrating 18 national organisations hosting Horizon 2020 NCPs and supporting or funding science research and innovation in the field of energy. The team is working to connect and support these NCPs for energy, of which there are now 121, as well as to provide tools and information directly to funding applicants.

The EUSEW conference provided the C-ENERGY 2020, which is coordinated by APRE, the Agency for the Promotion of European Research in Italy, with the opportunity to take stock of progress, offer tips and showcase the range of opportunities for energy within Horizon 2020.

Look beyond the word ‘energy’

Speaking at the meeting, Piotr Swiatek from the Jülich Research Centre in Germany, one of the partners on the project, encouraged applicants to look beyond the word ‘energy’ when browsing the funding opportunities. He noted, ‘Energy themes are found within areas that are not explicitly labelled as energy such as ICT (smart grids), innovation in SMEs, bio-based economy, future and emerging technology etc.’ He also emphasized the synergy with other instruments such as those by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, COSME and the European Structural and Investment Funds. There are also new forms of funding open to applicants this time round such as public procurement and financial support in terms of loans, guarantees and equity.

In terms of focus areas, smart cities and communities are clearly playing a big role in Horizon 2020 and smart grids are inevitably needed to bring them on stream. As Swiatek noted, ‘There is a lot of action and a lot of activities around smart cities.’

Get familiar with the work programme

Mari Habicht from the Estonian Research Council (ETAg) had a clear message for potential participants: all the information you need is in the work programme. ‘That should be your starting point and goal,’ she noted. ‘A careful reader should get a clear message of the needs and expectations.’ Habicht pointed to the main weaknesses and strengths that crop up again and again during the evaluation of proposals. Weak proposals are often too ambitious, fail to sufficiently engage the target group, offer a weak management and decision making process, are out of focus or provide poorly substantiated estimations. Competitive projects, meanwhile, demonstrate excellence, credibility, clarity, ambition and relevance.

C-ENERGY 2020 activities for applicants and NCPs

For applicants in the field of energy seeking partners, the C-ENERGY 2020 team will provide a partner search tool for the 2016-2017 programme and also co-organises international brokerage events with Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). The C-ENERGY 2020 website offers an updated overview of the current EU funding opportunities and networks; information on the NCPs and relevant training sessions, other events and policy updates.

For the NCPs, the team offers training sessions (via webinars, online modules and face to face sessions) and twinning schemes. NCPs can also share information, consolidate their knowledge and help clients to find appropriate partners via the EEN’s energy-related Sector Group and other relevant Horizon 2020 NCP networks. Additionally, the project offers privileged access to the Energy NCPs from International Cooperation Countries and provides NCPs with updates on EU funding opportunities, important events, policy updates and success stories in the energy field throughout C-Energy 2020 website, quarterly e-newsletter and social media accounts.

For those interested in learning more, the C-ENERGY 2020 team announced that a Horizon 2020 info day on energy, presenting the work plan for 2016 to 2017, will take place from 14 to 15 September in Brussels. This will be followed by a brokerage event on 16 September.

For further information, please visit:

C-ENERGY 2020
http://www.c-energy2020.eu/

Source: Based on event coverage at the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) conference.

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