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Teaming for Excellence

Teaming is one of the actions that stimulates the European Union to exploit its potential by maximising and spreading the benefits of research and innovation. It is vital for its competitiveness and its ability to address societal challenges.

The Teaming action is designed to support the creation of new centres of excellence or upgrading the existing ones in low R&I performing countries (except those centres of excellence that have already benefitted from previous Teaming calls). It is building on partnerships between leading scientific institutions in the European landscape and the main beneficiary institutions in low R&I performing countries that display the willingness to engage together for this purpose. This can help countries that are lagging behind in terms of research and innovation performance attaining a competitive position in the global value chains. Leading scientific institutions are advanced and established partners that have developed an outstanding reputation in research and innovation excellence in the chosen scientific domain. Institutions that are still in the process of development or modernisation, e.g. those that are still receiving support as coordinators from widening actions under Horizon 2020, are normally not considered leading institutions, unless a proper justification is provided in the proposal.

In order to maximise impact of research and innovation on society, environment and economy at large and to contribute in particular to the achievement of the European Union’s objectives, funding must be coherent and work in synergy. This notion is highly relevant for Teaming action, where a complementary source of funding from a national (or regional or European or private source) is required. The implementation of Teaming action is expected to become an influential and meaningful bridge particularly between smart specialisation strategies and excellence in R&I with the aim of strengthening the European Research Area and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Whatever the source of the required complementary source of funding, a Teaming project, as a notable flagship in its host country, exemplifies not only the achievements in R&I, capacity building or competitiveness, but also sets and facilitates synergies in practice.

The evaluation of the complementary source of funding part may use additional criteria required by, where relevant, the Cohesion Policy programmes and/or legislation. The managers of the complementary funding should apply to the operations the categories, maximum amounts and methods of calculation of eligible costs established under Horizon Europe. In addition, they should be able to apply Art.25 (d) of the revised General Block Exemption Regulation.

Proposals may be evaluated by an additional panel of experts with specific knowledge on complementary funding sources.

In the first stage of evaluation the R&I excellence and the conceptual approach for the centres of excellence will be evaluated. Applicants should present a strategic vision on how to develop R&I excellence beyond the state of the art in the chosen domain and on how the co-ordinator will benefit from the partnership with a leading institution from abroad. In addition, the conceptual approach should outline how the access to complementary funding from other sources will be ensured, in the respect of national, regional and/or European strategies or policy priorities (e.g. notably smart specialisation strategies, Green Deal, Digital transformation). Proposals also should sketch out briefly how the autonomy of the envisaged centre will be ensured and the necessary human resources recruited and retained.

Proposals invited to the second stage must include an investment plan for the full project including a binding commitment for the necessary complementary funding.

At a detailed level the full proposal should:

  • Present a strategy for how the centre will develop excellence in the chosen relevant R&I domain that will put it at the competitive edge beyond the state of the art enabling future success in competitive calls;
  • Demonstrate the growth potential and expected socio-economic outreach of the Centre of Excellence for the benefit of the host country or region;
  • Demonstrate how the project will contribute to encouraging and supporting reforms of the R&I system at regional and or/national level;
  • Elaborate on the structure of the consortium and how this will create a win-win situation;
  • Demonstrate how the newly established/upgraded centre will have full autonomy in decision-making. In particular, the centre of excellence should have the maximum degree of autonomy in terms of taking its own decisions, being in legal, administrative, operational, personnel and academic matters. The Centre should be able to fix and pay competitive salaries for its personnel;
  • Elaborate on the steps that will be taken to ensure long-term self-sustainability after the end of the Horizon Europe grant;
  • Propose a robust human resource strategy that addresses gender equality (in line with the research institutions respective gender equality plans) and international component, ensuring appropriate management capacities for the effective and efficient running of the centre of excellence;
  • In order to assure the autonomy of the centre of excellence, if relevant, the project might benefit of having the centre of excellence coordinating the project within the duration of the Grant;
  • Present an investment plan including the letter(s) of commitment for complementary funding from the competent national/regional authorities or private sources to commit financial resources (e.g. resources coming from programmes co-financed by the ERDF (European regional development fund), IPA (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance) or other sources) for implementing the future centre, in particular regarding investment in infrastructure and equipment. The letter(s) of commitment for complementary funding of the project will be an integral part of the evaluation of the proposal;
  • The grant awarded from the Horizon Europe budget should provide substantial support for the start-up and implementation phase of the future centre of excellence including the recruitment of the managerial, technical and scientific personnel. It should also cover expenses related to team members of the future centre of excellence (e.g. their salaries, recruitment costs[[ This can be considered under the category of ‘other goods, works and services’]], management costs, travel and subsistence costs);
  • A minor research component can be accepted not exceeding 10% of the total Horizon Europe grant that may include a preparatory research project. Such small research project embedded in the Teaming action should be aligned with the objectives of the project and e.g. serve the purpose of developing and testing new methodologies and instruments and/or the integration of new scientific personnel. If preparatory research activity is planned to be carried out, the outline of a respective work plan with an appropriate level of detail should be presented;
  • The duration of the grant should be up to six years.

Proposals should illustrate quantitatively and qualitatively the expected potential impact of the project and its expected results in terms of new local and international research and innovation partnerships, institutional and/or R&I system changes (various levels), increased research intensity (i.e. new scientific publications directly linked to the project’s area, protected IPR). Proposals are encouraged to choose any additional relevant indicators that will be used for measuring the impacts achieved.

Specific attention should be paid to gender equality objectives, in line with the organisations’ commitments through their adopted gender equality plans, and in line with European Research Area objectives.