Research and innovation performance is correlated with the efficiency of the national research and innovation system and the capacity and the effectiveness of the National Contact Points (NCPs). Special attention should be given to less experienced entities in low R&I performing countries to bridge the knowledge gap and enable better access to funding opportunities in the EU Framework Programmes and beyond.
A dedicated support mechanism under this Work programme part with specific objective to strengthen the activities of NCPs to support international networking and to improve the quality of proposals from legal entities from low R&I performing countries is envisaged.
Proposals should aim to facilitate trans-national co-operation between NCPs with a view to identifying and sharing good practices and raising the general standard of support to programme applicants, taking into account the diversity of actors that make up the constituencies of both the Widening and ERA parts. They also should show that the activities put forward will deliver tangible benefits to potential applicants.
Activities should capitalise on relevant work of the previous NCP network project in this sector. To help close the innovation divide, a substantial component of the proposed activities must be devoted to activities aimed at helping NCPs in those countries that have been participating at low levels in the FP programmes up to now. These activities should help these NCPs rapidly acquire the know-how on NCP operations accumulated in other countries including, for example, training, mentoring, and twinning. They may also include awareness raising actions aimed at increasing visibility of well-qualified potential applicant organisations in the Widening countries.
Support will be given to a consortium of identified NCPs in the area of the ‘Widening Participation and strengthening the European Research Area’ part coordinated by an organisation with a proven track record in managing an network of NCPs in the Widening domain. The members of the core consortium are identified in this call. Additional NCP organisations especially from Associated Countries may participate as linked third parties.
The implementation will include following actions: info days, training and workshops; tailored consultations and advice; support to matchmaking platform; proposal pre-screening (checks on eligibility and viability of concept) and actions dedicated to networking and matchmaking activities capitalising on the experience of the former NCP WIDENET project. For matchmaking activities the consortium will closely collaborate with NCP networks working on ohter parts of Horizon Europe notably pillar 2. A mutual learning process among NCPs will help building capacity by helping less experienced NCPs to enhance their competence (training, workshops). For these activities beneficiaries may provide financial support to third parties in the form of grants.
The implementation will be carried out in work packages distinguished for the two programme part components (Widening and ERA). The Widening part will especially take into account the requirements of the Advancing Europe package.
For the proposal pre-check part it ranges from seminar style training for proposal writing for larger groups to written advice on individual proposals (e.g. on clarity of objectives, consistency with work programme, balanced budget etc.) but not on scientific content and coaching of individuals. The action may include advice for applications outside the widening programme to a limited extent and based on strategic choices such as areas under Pillar 2, where application success rate from Widening countries were below average in comparable fields of Horizon 2020. As far as the matchmaking is concerned, possible synergies with existing platforms, e.g. Funding & Tenders Portal and EURAXESS should be explored, as well as dedicated events for brokerage and partner search in a physical or virtual mode.
Special attention should be given to enhancing the competence of NCPs, including helping less experienced NCPs rapidly acquire the know-how built up in other countries. The consortium should have a good representation of experienced and less experienced NCPs.