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Results of the Growth programme's first round of calls

European Commission officials expressed their 'satisfaction' at the success rate of the first call for proposals of the Fifth Framework Programme's Growth programme. One in three proposals were retained for negotiation, a higher rate than any previous EU research programme.

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European Commission officials expressed their 'satisfaction' at the success rate of the first call for proposals of the Fifth Framework Programme's Growth programme. One in three proposals were retained for negotiation, a higher rate than any previous EU research programme.

Officials were particularly pleased at the response from European industry, where the participation rate totalled 58%, half of which came from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Commission had introduced specific measures to encourage research in industry to achieve the overall objective of job creation.

More than 900 proposals representing around 8,300 organisations were submitted. The total budget demanded by these projects amounted to 2,500 million euros, three times the budget allocated for the first call (730 million euros).

On average, a successful proposal was submitted by nine partners from seven countries, for a total budget of 4.5 million euros over three and a half years (excluding aeronautics projects).

The evaluation took place in July when the group of independent experts considered around 300 projects had met the selection criteria. In August the Commission began negotiations with the consortia with a view to signing contracts before the end of the year.

Following the recommendations of the Davignon report, a five-year assessment of Community Framework Programmes which fed into the policy framework of FP5, the Commission has made clearer the rules and conditions of participation, (for example by focusing on more targeted research topics) which led to a higher proportion of successful proposals in this round.

The report also recommended making research programmes more economically and socially relevant with a focus on commercial exploitation of research. These have become central planks of the Fifth Framework Programme, and Commission officials said a majority of proposers had understood and satisfied these criteria.

The average number of participants and the requested funding per proposal has increased in comparison to the previous Framework Programme, resulting in larger and more integrated and multidisciplinary projects. Commission sources said researchers had responded well to the challenges of a new system of submitting proposals combined with an increased number of partners.

A major feature of the Fifth Framework Programme is the opening up of programmes to participation from outside the EU, in particular from the 15 associated countries whose research organisations submitted six per cent of proposals. Only six per cent were received from women, a figure the Commission is looking for ways to improve.

In response to recommendations received from the external advisory groups, the work programme for the second round of calls has been modified. The principle changes affect the Key Action for 'Innovative products, processes and organisations' which has been redefined and refocused. The response to this Key Action was the weakest in the Growth programme, but the Commission has organised a series of information days to ensure a better response in the next call.

Overall the Competitive and Sustainable Growth programme has been simplified and more tightly focused in order to achieve the objectives of economic growth and job creation.

The second round of calls for proposal is launched on 15 December 1999, and will close on 31 March 2000.

Source: European Commission, Research Directorate-General

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