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Reinforcing the networking of FP7 National Contact Points (NCP) and third country contacts in the Euratom Fission Programme

Final Report Summary - NUCL-EU (Reinforcing the networking of FP7 National Contact Points (NCP) and third country contacts in the Euratom Fission Programme)

Executive Summary:
Research and technology development in the area of nuclear fission and radiation protection – under the Euratom programme – is booming. However, there is a clear need for better coordination of research activities at a European and global level – in order to further stimulate innovation and improve the EU’s competitiveness worldwide. Hence, a well-organised and proficient network of National Contact Points for the Euratom programme is essential to improve this coordination.

Project NUCL-EU was a 51 months project and had the overall objective to create an efficient, pro-active and sustainable network for stimulating closer cooperation among all the National Contact Points and Third Countries contacts for the Euratom Programme.

NUCL-EU had two clear specific objectives:

 reinforce the Euratom NCP network
 enhance the Third Countries participation

Principal activities included good practice benchmarking with Euratom NCPs, followed by tailor-made training sessions and twinning schemes for new and less experienced NCPs. Third Countries contacts were encouraged to participate in all NUCL-EU activities.

The impacts resulting from NUCL-EU were 1) a strong and uniform Euratom NCP network, involving sound communication with Third Countries, and 2) more effective participation of Third Countries to the Euratom programme.

Project Context and Objectives:
The NCPs in particular countries have been established accordingly to national rules and represent different administrative and organisational schemes and patterns. Consequently, they follow various procedures and practices in their work, their staff having different level of expertise. This sometimes results from staff turnover and inevitable learning process of newcomers. While not interfering with the legal and administrative matter, the project focused on the establishment of a unified approach to NCP services, e.g. information, dissemination, consultancy, and to facilitate the training of new staff members.
NUCL-EU was a pro-active network of well informed, trained and skilled Euratom NCPs able to provide qualified assistance on Euratom FP7 issues to their clients.

The activities concentrated on the creation of a common basis of know-how on FP7 issues through innovative, hands-on and interactive training measures.
Furthermore skills of Euratom NCPs have been improved in order to enable them to provide better services to their clients. All measures have been developed on the basis of the needs of Euratom NCPs.
The trans-national cooperation activities among Euratom NCPs that are described in NUCL-EU aim at structuring and thus reinforcing the Euratom NCP network. The successful implementation of NUCL-EU delivered an improved and more consistent level of Euratom NCPs support services across Europe.
NUCL-EU is a 51 months coordination action and was developed involving all Euratom NCPs, led by an expert institution in EU research policy - APRE (Italy), through the following activities:

 Project Management
General, administrative, financial management, project meetings

 Good Practice Benchmarking
Benchmarking Workshop, SWOT analysis

 Training, Twinning and Mentoring of new and less experienced NCPs
Training sessions, twinning schemes, virtual mentoring, handbook of good practices

 Dissemination and partnering
Website, promotional activities, partner search activities, transnational Workshops.

NUCL-EU had the overall objective to create an efficient, pro-active and sustainable network for stimulating closer cooperation among all the National Contact Points and Third Countries contacts for the Euratom Programme.

The first objective was achieved through a benchmarking activity, training sessions, twinning schemes and virtual mentoring.
The second objective was achieved through the dissemination activities and the invitation in all the activities foreseen in NUCL-EU also to the Third Countries contacts.

The benchmarking and training activities contributed to the reinforcement of the Euratom NCP network (objective 1). The benchmarking included a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the NCP capacities. This analysis was the basis for tailor-made training sessions and twinning schemes with new and less experienced NCPs. The benchmarking and training activities also, together with the dissemination, significantly supported the enhancement of Third Country participation in FP7 (objective 2).
All NUCL-EU activities were open to all Euratom NCPs taking into account the definition in the description of the objectives in 1.1. The twinning schemes and the virtual mentoring on the CORDIS Euratom NCPs Forum were the only activities restricted to the EU Euratom NCPs.

The measurable and verifiable objectives have been achieved during the implementation of the project.

Project Results:
During the 51 months of the project trainings addressed to the EURATOM NCPs were organized in order to enhance their skills on FP7 issues. The training were advertised and were made broadly accessible to the relevant researchers and theirs institutions. Announcements for the info days and training were also placed on the NUCL-EU website (http://www.nucleu.net/).

Working/hosting visits were also a great success for the capacity building of EURATOM NCP’s and the possibility to increase their knowledge in different aspects.
The possibility to exchange experience ideas with colleagues and the possibility to interact with the rest of the participants were the mostly appreciated factors regarding the working and hosting visits.

During the consortium meetings the partners had the opportunity to share their experience gained in the local environment with the rest of the consortium. The presentations of the events performed during the project (training, info days) are available on the NUCL-EU intranet website.

It is also important to highlight in detail the contents, the impact and the feedback of the different events organized during the project. All the events/activities performed were focused on 3 major topics:

1) Capacity building of EURATOM NCPs

2) Capacity building of EURATOM researchers
3) Enhancement of the participation of organizations from Member States and Third Countries in EURATOM
4) Twinning for less experienced EURATOM NCP’s

• Capacity building of EURATOM NCPs

To fulfill the objectives NUCL-EU has carried out the following activities during the entire duration of the project (month 1-51). On the one hand, the capacity of EURATOM NCPs was built through trainings held:

• 14-15 December 2010, Warsaw, Poland
The training session was held at the University of Warsaw. The agenda was prepared taking into account the topics suggested by the partners.
In particular two experts were selected taking into account the topics of the agenda: Nicole Schröder - Project Management Agency. Part of the German Aerospace Center, EU-Bureau of the BMBF and Gianluigi Serianni – Institute of Ionized Gas IGI - National Council of Research Italy.
Main topics of the agenda were: Activities of EU in the field of magnetic thermonuclear fusion: EFDA and ITER, IDEAS Programme, Intellectual Property Rights, legal and financial aspects and Research Infrastructure and EuroRIsNet.
The EURATOM NCPs gave a positive feedback on the content of information provided during the training.

• 30th of November 2011 in Warsaw, Poland
The training was organised together with the network of the Energy NCPs (C-ENERGY+) and in coincidence with the NUCL-EU project meeting and the SET Plan Conference 2011.
The European Commission participated giving an update about the status of adoption of Euratom Programme. Some advices were given about how to build up a successful national NCP structure, how to apply for Research Potential project, how important could be the Research Infrastructure and EuroRIsNet, the network of Research Infrastructures National Contact Points, and Enterprise Europe Network.
NUCL-EU gives the possibility also the NCPs not partner of the project to attend.


• 5th of July 2012 in Brussels, Belgium
The training was organized with the network of the Energy NCPs (C-ENERGY+) and in coincidence with the NUCL-EU project meeting and the EURATOM and ENERGY Information Day 2012 organised by the European Commission.
Not only more general aspects were explained as the functioning of the Participant Portal and SEP, IPR issues, open access, etc but also issues related with the MELODI European Platform and Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform – SNETP.
The event was attended by 22 persons in total. NUCL-EU gives the possibility also the NCPs not partner of the project to attend.


• 22-23 October 2013, Petten, the Netherlands, Study Visit at JRC Petten and Crash course on innovation and entrepreneurship
The agenda was elaborated with the support of the network of the Energy NCPs (C-ENERGY+).
The first day was dedicated to visit the JRC-EIT infrastructures (hydrogen storage & sensor testing, fuel cell testing, Nuclear materials testing, energy security lab, interactive communication tools) and to have an idea of the different departments: Energy and transport technology assessment, Energy sources, infrastructures and security of supply, Hydrogen, transport and nuclear activities, Renewable energies & energy efficiency.
The event was attended by 26 persons in total. NUCL-EU gives the possibility also the NCPs not partner of the project to attend.


• 6-8 November 2013, Brussels, on HORIZON 2020
The event was attended by 40 persons in total. The agenda was organized together with the network of the Energy NCPs (C-ENERGY+).
Three-days training took place, in the first day an overview of Horizon 2020 were done; focussing different issues as H2020 Proposals submission and evaluation, Participant portal, SEP, financial and legal rules, etc.
The second day was more focussed on the Energy call: International Cooperation aspects, EIT, Set-Plan, SME-Instrument and Fast-track, financial Instruments, Fuel, Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), COSME, etc.
The last day was addressed to explain the EURATOM call and related aspect and initiatives; Joint Programming, ESNII (European Sustainable Nuclear industrial initiative), European Technology Platforms (IGD-TP: a tool for RD&D cooperation in Europe, MELODI: Multi-disciplinary European Low Dose Initiative, SNE-TP: Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform).


• Capacity building of EURATOM researchers

• 6 November 2012, Warsaw, hosted by IPPT PAN.
The Pilot Exercise Workshop was organized by Newlancer project (http://www.newlancer.net/) in collaboration with NUCL-EU project.

This initiative gave new project managers and project team members the essential tools they need to write successful proposals on time, on budget and in scope. The Workshop:
- Gave information about the WP 2013 EURATOM programme and the services provided by NUCL-EU project, network of FP7 National Contact Points (NCP) and third country contacts in the EURATOM Fission Programme;
- Developed the proposal structure (concept; objectives, work packages; tasks, deliverables; milestones);
- Described the requirements of the proposal submitted under FP7 Programme (i.e. evaluation criteria etc)
- Suggested how to build good consortia;
- Helped to setup an adequate project management structure and the relative budget;
- Clarified the procedure for submitting a proposal using the European Commission Authentication Service (ECAS).


• 27-28 May 2013, Kaunas, Lithuania
Two-days training for researchers was organized at the Lithuanian Energy Institute with around 20 participants. The speakers were selected in collaboration with the network of Energy NCP’s (C-ENERGY+).
The workshop presented an overview of EURATOM in the future Horizon 2020, some advices about How to Lobby for Horizon 2020, project consortium building(coordinator or partner - which role to choose?, geography and competences of partners, connections with the topic and requirements of the Call, Partner search. Examples and exercise and How to write a successful proposal.
On the second day Piotr Swiatek (German Energy NCP) and Maria Habitch (Estonian Energy NCP) hold a more practical training about: the evaluation of proposals, evaluation summary report, practical exercise, negotiation phase, consortium agreement and the Intellectual Property Rights, financial reporting and impact, dissemination and exploitation issues with a practical exercise.


• 5 September 2013, Bucharest, Romania
The training was organized together with the Ministry for Research. The trainers presented to the researchers EU projects supporting New Member States: NEWLANCER and NUCL-EU, the EURATOM programme in Horizon 2020 and rules of participation. Some advices have given about how to write a successful proposal, participant portal and SEP (submission service).


• 19–20 September 2013, Sunny Beach Base of the Council of Ministers, Bulgaria
During the BgNS International Conference “NUCLEAR POWER FOR THE PEOPLE” (http://www.bgns.bg/page.php?n=211864&SiteID=802) NUCL-EU organized a training focussed on EURATOM Horizon 2020.
The first day general aspects of the programme were presented. The second day were more addressed to practical issues as how to write a successful proposal, how to communicate and disseminate project results, how to submit a proposal, etc.
A high number of participants attended the seminar especially interested in new opportunities of funding with EURATOM Programme.


• 13 December 2013, Prague
The training was organized with the support of the local NUCL-EU partner UJV Rez a.s. Around 40 researchers participated to the workshop where trainers presented the new EURATOM Programme with Horizon 2020, the novelties regarding rules of participation, participant portal, how to write a proposal, build up a consortium and submit a project.
The NUCL-EU and Newlancer project were presented during the event.


• Enhancement of the participation of organizations from Member States and Third Countries in EURATOM

The enhancement of the participation of organisations from Member States and Third Countries in EURATOM was achieved through dissemination activities where the NUCL-EU promotional material was distributed:


• SET PLAN Conference on the 28th and 29th of November 2011 in Warsaw
NUCL-EU attended and promote the project through an Infodesk with some promotion material as flyers and brochures, around 200 participants attended the conference.

http://setis.ec.europa.eu/newsroom-items-folder/set-plan-conference-2011-the-future-of-energy-depends-on-research


• EURATOM and ENERGY European Information Day on the 4th of July 2012 in Brussels
NUCL-EU attended and promote the project through an Infodesk with some promotion material as flyers and brochures, around 300 participants attended the conference.

http://ec.europa.eu/research/index.cfm?pg=events&eventcode=82F7B4C4-D426-1B9B-1E0905565A6EEF14


• Nuclear Fission Research for Low Carbon Economy, 27.February.2013 Brussels, Belgium
Focusing the concerns and questions of civil society around fission energy research, the safety of nuclear power and its long term contribution to EU’s energy mix, this conference took place immediately following the completion of the 2012 Study on “benefits and limitations of nuclear fission research for a low carbon economy” organized by the European Commission and presented to the Atomic research working group of the European Council. The contribution of nuclear fission energy research activities towards the Horizon 2020 framework programme, in the context of EU energy 2050 roadmap and the EU’s energy mix was the main topics of the debate.
The event was attended by the Euratom NCPs and the info desk was prepared.
http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.events-and-activities-symposium-on-nuclear-fission

• Nuclear Energy in Europe – Present & Future, 18-21 September 2013, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria
The international conference organised by the Bulgarian Nuclear Society in cooperation with BulAtom, ENS and Kozloduy Nuclear Plant was devoted to international scientists in the area of the nuclear energy. The participants were from Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, France, Germany etc.
The NUCL-Eu attended the conference and promoted the Euratom Programme in Horizon 2020 and in conjunction to the event organised the Training for Researchers with guidelines on the participation in the European Framework Programmes.


• Joint FISA and EURADWASTE 2013 Conferences, 14-17 October 2013 in Vilnius, Lithuania
FISA 2013, a conference on research and training in reactor systems and EURADWASTE '13, a conference on radioactive waste management were co-organised by the European Commission and the Lithuanian Ministry for Education and Science, under the auspices of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU. The event gathered together some 600 key stakeholders in the domain, joint opening and closing sessions facilitated in-depth discussion on issues and policies in research and development programmes in both reactor systems and radioactive waste management in Europe.
http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/euratom-fission/fisa-euradwaste-2013_en.html

The NUCL-Eu network organised Info-stand with materials about the Euratom Programme in Horizon 2020, but also distributed materials about the European Initiatives like Sustainable Nuclear Technology Platform and projects founded form Euratom Programme. In conjunction to the conferences, the networking cocktail for Euratom NCPs was organised with the presence of the NUCL-EU project officer.

• 3rd European Energy Conference – 28-30 October 2013, Budapest
NUCL-EU attended and promote the project through an Infodesk with some promotion material as flyers and brochures, around 250 participants attended the conference.
http://www.e2c2013.mke.org.hu/


• Twinning for less experienced EURATOM NCP’s

Three twinning events, a working visit experience, were organized in order to transfer the knowledge about the daily work of a skilled EURATOM NCP.

• In Italy, Rome, 22-24 of March 2011 for three EURATOM NCPs
• In Poland, Warsaw, 28-30 March 2012 hosting two EURATOM NCPs
• In Italy, Rome, 8–9–10 April 2013 hosting five EURATOM NCPs

The final aim was to provide a group of NCPs the opportunity to exchange experiences, know-how and best practices and learn from each other by spending time together at the Italian FP7 NCP Office. This Exchange Programme aimed also to promote networking and exchange of best practices between NCPs from the Energy and Nuclear Sectors.
The majority of the participants specifically expressed interest for the following topics:

1. FORM-C
2. Financial issues.
3. Sharing practices on negotiation with the EC
4. Providing a training on Horizon 2020
5. IPR issues on the proposals

Potential Impact:
NUCL-EU has successfully fostered international cooperation also with Third Countries under the ‘EURATOM’ theme. First, this was done by enhancing the EURATOM NCPs network in Third Countries. One of the impacts has been an increased collaboration between industrialized partner countries on topics of mutual interest.

What EURATOM NCPs network offered to NCP:

 Capacity building through comprehensive training, twinning and staff exchange programmes.

 Networking with other health-related NCP networks.

 Support in Ethics in health research.

 Access to valuable information through the website.

What EURATOM NCPs offered to researchers / FP7 Euratom applicants:

 Full assistance of a well established official network in project proposal preparation.
 A partner search facility for FP7 EURATOM and a Map of research institutions active in the field. http://www.nucleu.net/partner-search.aspx
 Lower entry barriers for newcomers: Facilitate and support the development of NCP in new Member States, based in the knowledge and experience from ‘senior’ NCP for a better service to researchers.
 Simplify access to FP7 calls and other important information from the European Commission.

With regard to the third point about lowering the entry barriers for new comers, it should be underlined the collaboration established during the last year of the network with the FP7 NEWLANCER project.
NEWLANCER was a project funded by the European Commission under the Euratom Programme with 15 partners. The projects wanted to evaluate the skills and the participation of New Member States to the Euratom Programme. Therefore, the purpose was to create a more efficient cohesion in nuclear research. The project has tried to identify and implement effective and efficient solutions leading to enlarged New Member States involvement in future Euratom Programmes.

As for the dissemination of results, the Network had access to useful materials and documents promoted in the project activities via the website, via email and at NCP networking days. The repository of the website has been enriched continuously. Besides dissemination of project results, thanks to NUCL-EU, the communication flow with the Commission and the Network was enhanced: information on FP7 EURATOM and other relevant topics were better channelled through the Coordinator, who disseminated them, via email or on the website, to the Euratom NCP Network, who afterwards acted as multiplier.

This communication flow worked the other way around as well, channelling information and needs from the entire Network to the European Commission. The Network acted as a platform to provide feedback from the national side to the Commission on issues related to the implementation of the programme. The collaboration with the Commission run smoothly.

International cooperation under EURATOM was enhanced by better information provision and assistance by Third Country NCPs to their research communities. The NCP trainings, working visits in Europe have had a positive impact on the EURATOM NCP network for the years to come under FP7 and beyond. The NUCL-EU activities have also contributed to a stronger institutional basis of the NCP-network in many countries.

The knowledge-base of FP7 researchers has been enlarged through the trainings and info days organized by NUCL-EU. Access to FP7 has become easier for many of them.

The networking capacities of researchers have been improved. Related to this, the researchers who have participated in NUCL-EU events are better aware of the European research interests and how these fit with their own national interests.

The project activities were promoted through a variety of tools, including the website with its many features, a project leaflet, some specialized publications, etc. The project and its events (trainings, info days, working and hosting visits) were also published on various other websites and promoted through the local NUCL-EU partners.

Through these activities, NUCL-EU has intensively fostered international cooperation under the ‘EURATOM’ theme. This was done by extending and reinforcing the EURATOM NCP network. Improved international cooperation was also achieved by enlarging the EURATOM knowledge-base and networking capacity of researchers and by thus getting them involved in proposals.

It is anyway envisaged a more active participation from other EU Countries beyond the NUCL-EU partnership in the activities of the future network under HORIZON 2020.
During the implementation of the project was difficult to involve NCPs from Old Member States, since they represent Countries already active in the participation of the EURATOM Programme and NCPs from New Member States, because usually they are researchers and work only part-time as NCPs.
In order to avoid a potential lack of interest from EU Countries NCPs the aim of the future network will be to improve and professionalize the services that will be offered in order to make them more appealing.
This objective will be achievable through a ‘core’ group of NCPs that during the last years became a real network collaborative and pro-active. This ‘core’ group composed by experienced NCPs will facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and share best practices so that less experienced NCPs rapidly acquire the know-how accumulated by their counterparts in other countries.

List of Websites:
http://www.nucleu.net/