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European Tunisian Cooperation

Final Report Summary - ETC (European Tunisian cooperation)

Executive Summary:

The project fosters and boosts the involvement the Tunisian research centres into the European Research Area (ERA) by building a network, consisting of Tunisian research centres, Universities and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

We identified a Tunisian community of actors, in charge of spreading information European research opportunities and programmes, by means of:

1. providing a wider access to information on scientific and technological programmes, funding projects building and management of the European Community (EC)
2. identifying the main priorities in the scientific and technology field and demonstrating the mutual benefit from the scientific and technological (S&T) cooperation between the EC and Tunisia
3. improving knowledge and skills transfer on scientific and technological matters, spreading and sharing best practices in order to present the state of the art and the prospects for cooperation in defined fields in either project areas.

We developed information facilities: vide conference, web seminar, information services, a web platform and events. The platform was a tool which helps to create a virtual and sharing space, in order to strengthen a closer interaction between the target audiences of the project.

All these tools improve the information exchanges, the scientific and technological network and a common policy on scientific and technological matters between the EC and Tunisia.

To better present the state of the art and the prospects for cooperation in research we propose a set of activities, such as:

1. organisation of meetings, conferences, events
2. a newsletter service system on European Union (EU) call for proposals, concrete scientific cooperation and funded projects
3. organisation of workshops (How to write a research project proposal /how to manage a funded research project);
4. projects dissemination and partner search facilities.

The project based also on national contact point (NCP) building capacity: MHESR appointed thematic NCPs in: Health, Knowledge based bio-economy (KBBE), Informaiton and communication technologies (ICT), Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies (NMP), Energy, Socioeconomic sciences and humanities (SSH) and International cooperation (INCO). They appeared in Cordis and in ETC website. Each contact point work in synergy with the European NCP network project us: Biocircle (KBBE), Idealist (ICT), Heath NCP (Health) etc.

The thematic NCP identified and build a national network of more than 50 institutional contact points chosen to cover all Tunisian research structure.

On the same and in synergy with MIRA project we catalogue Tunisian richer structure (laboratories, units, SMEs, competency etc.) to be published on the two projects website.

Actually we established a mailing list for more than 3 000 researcher and SMEs contact specified by thematic interest.

The ETC website is supported by technological and interactive tools (video-conference and e-learning systems). These kinds of tools will be complementary to the platform activities and will allow to simplify interaction among the target audiences of the two areas and to improve communication performance.

Project Context and Objectives:

The ETC project aims to foster and boost the involvement of Tunisian researcher into the ERA by building a network, consisting of Tunisian research centres, universities and SMEs. In order to promote cooperation in research and technology development between European and Tunisian actors, the project main objective is to provide information service on the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and others EU programmes than the related funding schemes.

The ETC project support the EU-Tunisia association agreement main objectives:

1. to promote innovation and technological development;
2. to develop international cooperation at both bilateral and multilateral.

The implementation of ETC project us coordinator allowed a better understand of FP7 rules and improved knowledge of management consortium. The project enabled the strengthening of partner staff through targeted high-level recruitment.

The ETC website was the main tool for presenting the project to the outside community and stakeholders and also serving as a Gateway for the researcher's Tunisian community.

However, the ETC website is not limited to the dissemination of information (promote and spread all relevant information on bilateral, regional and multilateral calls for cooperation of EU-Tunisia) but also offers a powerful communication tools and information facilities (video conference, web seminar, forum, etc.) which allowed easier and faster contact and discussion between researcher and formed consortium.

In the communication on-line activities the platform was a tool which helps to create a virtual and sharing space, in order to strengthen a closer interaction between the target audiences of the project.

The ETC platform virtual community is composed by:

1. Research entities: university, research centre, research labs, etc.
2. Enterprises: private companies, single consultant, etc.

So, it was presented us database of Tunisian competencies.

The conception of project us database platform of Tunisian researcher and SMEs competency open the cooperation with all Tunisian bilateral projects (CE country bilateral cooperation and agreement etc.) and regional ones us ENPICBC Med, ENPI TN Italy and even promotion and synergy with the Mediterranean agriculture ERA network (ERANet) ARIMNet call thus appeared us the Tunisian cooperation gateway. The big challenge still consolidation of the ETC platform database.

All these tools improve the information exchanges, the scientific and technological network and a common policy on scientific and technological matters between the EC and Tunisia.

These kinds of tools were complementary activities and allow to simplify interaction among the target audiences of the two areas and to improve communication performance.

The project based also on NCP building capacity. Each contact point work is in synergy with the European NCP network project.

The thematic NCP identified and build a national network of more than 50 institutional contact points chosen to cover all Tunisian research structure.

On the same and in synergy with MIRA project we catalogue Tunisian research structure (laboratories, units, SMEs, competency etc.) to be published on the two projects website.

Actually we established a mailing list for more than 3 000 researcher and SMEs contact specified by thematic interest.

In Tunisia the project establish an excellent dynamic synergy between FP7 Tunisian participants and work in complementarities with all FP7 project particularly the Med Inconet MIRA, the Regpot and ERAWIDE project that consolidate S&T cooperation agreement and facilitate policy dialogue process.

To better present the state of the art and the prospects for cooperation in research we organise a set of activities, such as:

1. organisation of meetings, conferences, events;
2. a newsletter service system on EU call for proposals, concrete scientific cooperation and funded projects;
3. organisation of workshops (How to write a research project proposal /how to manage a funded research project);
4. projects dissemination and partner search facilities. Thus a list of European centres of excellence that will be published on the ETC website, in order to provide Tunisian researchers with a directory for searching European partners.

The impact of the project will be concrete by contributing to:

1. increase Tunisian participation in all CE finding and all CE-Tunisia bilateral cooperation;
2. build cluster and network of common interest CE-Mediterranean priorities topics.

Finally the ultimate goal is to improve Tunisian researcher structure and SMEs capacities at international levels which allowed a higher level cooperation with ERA.

The big challenge will be consolidation of the ETC platform database by interaction with all bilateral CE country and Tunisia; international organisation before promotion in the most important European events.

Project Results:

In order to promote cooperation in research and technology development between European and Tunisian actors, the project main aim is to provide information service on FP7 and other EU programmes and the related funding schemes. The overall objective of the present project proposal is to build and enhance an active partnership able to rise international collaboration opportunity, impacting positively on the S&T cooperation among European and Tunisian research centres, universities and SMEs involved into S&T activities.

The planned support actions intend to obtain positives externalities according to the European Commission statements about the EU-Tunisia Association Agreements, the Euro-Mediterranean neighbourhood policy and Barcelona process.

Moreover the project, thanks to the proposed networking technologies, aims to create a community of actors involved in the scientific and technology field:

1. providing a wider access to information on scientific and technologic programmes, funding and on projects building and management of the EC
2. identifying the main priorities in the scientific and technology activities, demonstrating the mutual benefit from the S&T cooperation between the EC and Tunisia
3. improving knowledge and skills transfer on scientific and technological matters, spreading and sharing best practices in order to increase international cooperation capabilities.

The ETC project corresponds with the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement main objectives:

1. to promote innovation and technological development through the support of innovative companies, the valorisation of research results, the reinforcement of partnership between research structures and private companies and the creation of technoparks and incubators;
2. to reinforce the follow up and the evaluation of research activities and structures;
3. to develop a high level national expertise in the strategic fields for the development and the safety of the country;
4. to promote scientific and technological culture and information through development of information networks and the improvement of accessibility to databases and documentation centres at the national and international levels;
5. to develop international cooperation at both bilateral and multilateral levels in order to facilitate the exchange of experiences between Tunisian research teams and other partners, to access international scientific excellence networks, to benefit from international research financing and to contribute to universal scientific and technological progress.

Potential Impact:

The project increases clearly visibility of potential Tunisian researchers and enhance the Tunisian participation in FP7. It creates synergy between initiatives and programmes at national and regional level. Moreover the project identified FP7 programme with added value for Tunisian institutions as Erawide, Regpot and Irses.

The main activities in this period were:

1. the kick-off meeting was organised by the coordinator in Tunis 12 to 14 October 2009, i.e. month two (M2)
2. first management meeting held in Tunis 11 and 12 September 2010 (M13)
3. second Consortium meeting 14 and 15 April 2011 Brussels
4. third Consortium meeting Tuesday 6 December 2011 Iresa
5. fourth project management board of ETC (30 and 31 August 2012) and he ETC Stakeholders Meeting for Assessment of EU- Tunisia S&T Cooperation 31 August 2012
6. ETC Final conference minutes18 and 19 February 2013
7. website ready and running and ETC quality policy approved by partners
8. for communication and dissemination plan leaflets and posters prepared: leaflet; a catalogue of services; project poster
9. preparation and delivery for printing of a project banner
10. project ETC was presented more times during the various events, workshops and conferences together with short presentation of platform and other tools such as e-learning, web seminar and forum
11. twentieth EBN annual Congress and Retis annual Congress 15 to 17 June 2011 in Toulon, France
12. third EU-Russia Innovation Forum and 21st EBN Annual Congress in Lappeenranta, 13 to 15 June 2012
13. third INCO Conference (EU-Conference on International Cooperation) and the INCO NCP meeting 18 to 20 June 2012 in Bonn Germany
14. EU MED conference Amman. The International Conference on Mediterranean Countries and EU Opportunities in Research, Development and Innovation, 22 and 23 October 2012, Amman- Jordan
15. meeting DGRI CE AND BEI CMI Marseille Workshop on Internationalisation and Valorisation of Research 3 to 6 October 2011 in Marseille
16. conference 'Euro-Mediterranean Conference on Research and Innovation' - Barcelona, 2 and 3 April 2012
17. in monitoring and Analysis of the EU - Tunisian Cooperation the national research priorities in FP7 thematic identified with MIRA and Biocircle projects synergy
18. forecasting analysis started the best practices collection on December 2010, but due to several problems encountered, such as the political instability after the Arab Spring, the low rate of replies, this activity was carried out really slowly. So it started in May 2011 and it was completed on May 2012. The report on best practices collection was presented on August 2012 with its presentation on the occasion of the ETC Stakeholders Meeting for Assessment of EU- Tunisia S&T Cooperation 30 and 31 August 2012. This survey was carried out in two steps: a desk analysis on successful participation of Tunisian projects; and a questionnaire-based survey issued to the identified Tunisian actors.

Accordingly, we have performed the following activities:

1. identified project co-financed by FP7, with Tunisian organisation partners
2. created a list of the main research and technological development (RTD) players active in FP7
3. defined the survey content agreeing it with the project coordinator
4. developed a questionnaire to be issued to the Tunisian successful participants to FP7
5. the questionnaire sent by email, signed by Innova BIC and Prof. Moez Jebara, to explain the aim of the survey and the advantage of filling the questionnaire.

The questionnaire was sent to a sample of almost 70 projects, consisting of Tunisian participants taking part either as coordinators or as partners to FP7 funded projects during the period 2007 to 2010. At the end, the reply rate was about 17% of replies. Normally, the success rate in this kind of survey is usually lower, about 15% of the sample. Those results were shared and agreed during the conference held on 31 August in Tunis.

1. The ETC platform virtual community is composed by research entities (university, research centre, research labs, etc.); enterprises (private companies, single consultant, etc.)
2. the Virtual meeting room and web-seminar platform design
3. integration of e-learning platform
4. installation of videoconference tool on platform. Installation of web seminar tool on platform
5. development of action script code (Adobe Flash AS3) for customisation of software for videoconference. Development of action script code (Adobe Flash AS3) for customisation of software for web seminar.
6. debug and test of integrated tool.
7. update of platform based on test results. Upgrade of security issue for e-learning.
8. development of a component for web seminar tool. This component will allow trainer to upload pdf. Presentation to show in web seminar activity and customisation with ETC facilitate the easier access to e-learning courses.
9. development of a component for web seminar tool. This component will allow trainer to upload pdf. Presentation to show in web seminar activity and customisation with ETC Logo.
10. security upgrade of forum tool.
11. website updating.

The ETC website is the main tool for presenting the project to the outside community and stakeholders. The site was launched in November 2009 and it is constantly update. The following domain has been registered for the use of the ETC Consortium: http://www.etcproject.eu. It has to be highlighted that the ETC website has been also serving as a European Gateway for the Tunisian community of researchers by providing a central repository of reference materials and a notice board for announcing EU RTD events.

1. NCP building capacity: MHESR appointed thematic NCP in Health, KBBE, ICT, NMP, energy and SSH. They appeared in Cordis and in ETC website. More than 50 institutional contact points was also chosen to cover all Tunisian research structure and this list will be extended and published on ETC portal. Two training was dedicated for capacity building of Tunisian contact point, on 14 October 2010 and 23 February 2011.
2. Data collection: In synergy with MIRA activities we start collection of identification sheet for all Tunisian researcher structure.
3. Partner search: a list of European centres of excellence that will be published on the ETC website, in order to provide Tunisian researchers with a directory for searching European partners.

The ETC website support Tunisian researchers to find suitable European partners as well as for suggesting tips towards the development of a successful a proposal under FP7. The help desk works by making available the contacts of Innova BIC senior responsible for European Project. The activity of help desk assistance is available online since 13 December 2010 in the following days Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 to 12:00 a.m. CET. Hence, thanks to this service, the ETC website's Users are able to contact Innova BIC responsible by means of different kinds of contacts, such as Skype contact, e-mail address and by means of the ETC video conference system. Information with regard the help desk assistance is provided in the home page of the ETC website as well as by newsletter.

The list of the training workshops are the following:

1. first workshop - 13 October 2010 in Tunis (Training on CORDIS on how to search calls and Work Programmes and How to use web platform ETC -online tools). Workshop described in deliverable for Interim Report.
2. second Workshop - 23 February 2011 in Tunis (Training on ETC tools, registration process, ETC platform).
3. third Workshop - 28 June 2011 in Gabes (Training on Energy and NMP themes, Funding Opportunities and Idealist and CORDIS services). The training workshop aimed to improve knowledge of the participants about FP7 - ICT, FP7 - Energy, FP7 - NMP.
4. fourth Workshop - 8th December 2011 in Tunis (Training on ETC services and platform ).
5. online networking activities
6. E-learning: The tool was developed from existing VideoCall VideoConference Source Development Kit (SDK). Development of e-learning course of 'Project Cycle Management', 'Basic Concepts', 'Application Form', 'Description of FP7 in two parts', 'EPSS', 'Irses call', 'Elaboration of 'ETC Online tools' course storyboard development'.
7. Web Seminars: The web seminar tool was presented during the Info Day and training workshop.
8. Forum: The contents for forum activities elaborated.

Project website: http://www.etcproject.eu