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Trans-national co-operation among National Contact Points for Socio-economic sciences and the Humanities (SSH NCPs)

Final Report Summary - NET4SOCIETY2 (Transnational cooperation among national contact points for socio-economic sciences and the humanities (SSH NCPs))

Executive summary:

NET4SOCIETY is the network of national contact points (NCPs) for socio-economic sciences and the humanities (SSH). NET4SOCIETY supports networking in the SSH research community and helps SSH NCPs to competently advise on all aspects of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

At the same time the project aims to increase the visibility of European SSH research. NET4SOCIETY was first set up in 2008 as a European Union (EU)-funded project and is running in the second round (NET4SOCIETY2) since 1 February 2011. For its two-year duration, the project has a budget of EUR 1.8 million. Over 50 European and international SSH NCPs are active in the network.

Communication and networking was considered an open and ongoing process, which connects SSH NCPs, the European Commission (EC) as well as other NCP networks, relevant stakeholders and researchers. NET4SOCIETY2's commitment translated into tailor made workshops, high quality trainings and bilateral meetings for NCPs. It provided targeted tools such as the virtual helpdesk (VH) to advise SSH NCPs on all aspects of their work. As a further service to SSH NCPs and the EC, NET4SOCIETY2 produced analytical reports on topics such as international participation in the SSH Theme.

A key innovation in this follow-up project was the organisation of large scale events. These conferences combined a scientific focus theme of relevance for SSH in FP7 with brokerage events that facilitated research partnerships for open topics in the current SSH FP7 calls. The NET4SOCIETY2 conferences 'Challenge Social Innovation' (September 2011 in Vienna) and 'Active Ageing - the potential for society' (July 2012 in Dublin) directly targeted the SSH research community and attracted several hundred participants.

Numerous activities were carried out to increase the visibility of SSH research in FP7. Amongst other activities and in cooperation with other European networks and organisations in the field of SSH, NET4SOCIETY2 formulated an open letter to EU Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn on the importance of SSH within the context of Horizon 2020. The letter collected more than 25 000 signatures by the end of February 2012. This open letter was presented to Ms Geoghegan-Quinn on 10 November 2011.

The network supported SSH researchers also through instruments such as the research directory - a database of actively involved researchers and key players in the SSH theme - or the partner search service. Both tools were designed to facilitate research cooperation in the context of FP7. To highlight funding opportunities for SSH researchers, NET4SOCIETY2 produced the widely disseminated document 'Opportunities for Researchers from the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities'.

The annual evaluation of NET4SOCIETY2 clearly indicated that a vast majority of its members definitely benefit from the SSH NCP network. Around 90 % of the SSH NCPs stated that they benefited from the project much or very much.

Project context and objectives:

NET4SOCIETY is the network of NCPs for SSH. Over 50 European and international SSH NCPs are active in the network. NET4SOCIETY supports networking in the SSH research community and helps SSH NCPs to competently advise on all aspects of the FP7. At the same time the project aims at increasing the visibility of European SSH research. NET4SOCIETY was first set up in 2008 as an EU funded project and is running in the second round (NET4SOCIETY2) since 1 February 2011. For its two-year duration, the project has a budget of EUR 1.8 million.

The overall strategic objectives of NET4SOCIETY2 were to:

(a) strengthen the network of SSH NCPs;
(b) promote good NCP practices;
(c) increase SSH visibility;
(d) strengthen SSH within the context of horizon 2020;
(e) raise awareness of SSH NCP services in a transnational context;
(f) improve the knowledge-base for SSH NCPS and researchers / stakeholders;
(g) enhance the SSH research directory;
(h) support SSH NCP newcomers;
(i) enhance cooperation with SSH NCPs in international cooperation partner countries (ICPC).

Within the individual work packages (WPs) of NET4SOCIETY2, more detailed objectives were set:

WP1: Management

(a) overall project coordination and network management;
(b) close cooperation with EC and SSH NCPs;
(c) administrative, financial management and reporting ;
(d) quality management.

WP2: Networking

(a) facilitate high-level exchange of knowledge, experiences and good practices for mutual benefit of all SSH NCPs;
(b) create virtual FP7 SSH helpdesk;
(c) increase and support the efficiency, effectiveness and professionalism of all SSH NCPs by targeted capacity building;
(d) establish a more consistent level of NCP services offered to SSH researchers by aiming at establishing a common level of quality of services offered to clients.

WP3: Outreach activities

(a) presentation of the SSH 'key players' from Europe, Associated and ICPC through the research directory; %l (b) effective and efficient handling of partner searches in SSH through the establishment of a definite working process regarding PS in SSH, including the establishment of a partner search quality management team; %l (c) widening the view of research opportunities for SSH researchers by presenting SSH research opportunities in other Themes of FP7, as well as within other European programmes (ERA-NETs, JTIs, Joint Programming) with SSH relevance;
(d) strengthening the cooperation with ICPC;
(e) strengthening the role of SSH stakeholders and NCPs in the debate on SSH towards Horizon 2020 and in European research funding in general.

WP4: Events and promotion

(a) develop and implement a coherent event concept for the project;
(b) identify best practice in event organisation and implement it in NET4SOCIETY2 events;
(c) organise two large scale transnational SSH events linked to a research conference on social innovation in September 2011 in Vienna (AT) and to the Euroscience Open Forum during the Dublin City of Science imitative in Dublin (IE) in July 2012;
(d) awareness raising of SSH research and SSH NCP activities and increased visibility of the network across Europe;
(e) hosting of a user-friendly service and communication tool in the NET4SOCIETY2 website.

Project results:

NET4SOCIETY2 has fully achieved its objectives. During the lifetime of the project, the network of SSH NCPs was further consolidated. Project workshops and numerous capacity building activities have ensured that newcomer SSH NCPs quickly learned the tools of their trade and more experienced SSH NCPs exchanged their experiences with good and best practices and learned about new developments. NET4SOCIETY2 activities have increased the visibility of SSH research in Horizon 2020 and in general. SSH researchers were supported through different networking instruments and information on funding opportunities.

Main results of the project include:

(a) knowledge exchange between SSH NCPs and capacity building through workshops, trainings and bilateral meetings, exchange of best practices and networking;
(b) targeted support for newcomer SSH NCPs;
(c) increased SSH visibility through the organisation of large SSH-focused conferences and lobbying activities (e.g. position papers, open letters, newsletters);
(d) thematic brokerage events for SSH researchers;
(e) improved Research Directory for SSH key players and improved SSH-specific partner search service;
(f) improved visibility of SSH NCPs through targeted promotion instruments, also outside of Europe;
(g) better visibility of SSH funding opportunities outside of FP7 Theme 8 SSH;
(h) better understanding of ICPC / third country participation in FP7 Theme 8 SSH;
(i) improved communication between SSH NCPs and the EC.

The project was organised under four WPs: 3.1.WP1 'Management'

Task 1.1: Management

The overall high-quality coordination of the SSH NCP network, i.e. the overall legal, financial and administrative management of NET4SOCIETY2 and management of the work to be performed fell under this task. The German Coordinator DLR closely collaborated with the quality manager (first FFG, Austria, from September 2012 onwards APRE, Italy) as well as the leaders of the WPs and tasks, and was in regular contact with all partners. The core project management board (core PMB) was the central decision-making body of the network. It consisted of the WP leaders and the coordinator. Regular phone conferences of the core PMB ensured smooth communication within the project. New network members were welcomed and integrated into the network by defined procedures.

NET4SOCIETY2 started as an already established network. The project therefore focused successfully on providing targeted information and support to all SSH NCPs and to SSH researchers and on increasing SSH visibility in European Research FPs. All activities resulted in developing and strengthening cooperation between SSH NCPs from Europe and beyond and promoting the coherence and high-level services of the network, including better knowledge, knowledge transfer and guidance to SSH researchers in FP7. In its 2-year-lifetime, the project consolidated its position as a serious body of consultation and lobbying in the world of SSH. The network maintained and extended contacts to a large number of SSH stakeholders. The Coordinator Ms Schindler-Daniels was invited to serve in several advisory boards of other projects. The cooperation with the EC was very fruitful, e.g. resulting in the organisation of the Commission SSH info day.

NET4SOCIETY2 members

While the NET4SOCIETY2 project had 18 beneficiaries, the network itself and its services were open to all SSH NCPs. NET4SOCIETY2 successfully integrated SSH NCPs from 49 countries, who were actively involved in the project through participation in NET4SOCIETY2 events or dissemination of NET4SOCIETY2 activities. Among them were 12 NCPs from Third Countries. Due to the high fluctuation of SSH NCPs, this number however does not accurately reflect the number of NCPs active in the network, because of frequent changes of contact persons.

NET4SOCIETY2 partner countries

18 beneficiaries 31 further network members: Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Turkey, Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan (2 organisations since June 2010), United Kingdom, Uzbekistan.

The network members had a very heterogeneous background, as the structure of national FP7 NCP systems existed in various forms, from highly centralised to decentralised systems. The organisations that host NCPs range from ministries, public research councils, governmental agencies, universities and research institutions to private companies and consultancies. This meant that the NCPs worked in all kinds of environments and their background and methods varied accordingly.

Table 3: NET4SOCIETY2 Beneficiaries

- Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR), Germany
- Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft mbH (FFG), Austria
- Ethniko Idryma Erevnon (EKT/NHRF) Greece
- The Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNIS), Iceland
- Verein Euresearch (Euresearch), Switzerland
- An tÚdarás um Ard-Oideachas - Higher Education Authority (IRC) Ireland
- MATIMOP, Israeli Industry Center for Research and Development (MATIMOP-ISERD), Israel
- Agenzia per la Promozione della Ricerca Europea (APRE), Italy
- Association Economy and Democracy (AED), Bulgaria
- Belarusian State University (BSU), Belarus
- Research Promotion Foundation (RPF), Cyprus
- Office of the Prime Minister (MCST), Malta
- Norges forskningsråd (Forskningsrådet), Norway
- Instytut Podstawowych Problemow Techniki Polskiej Akademii Nauk (IPPT-PAN), Poland
- Ministerul Educatiei, Cercetarii Si Inovari – Autoritatea Nationala pentru Cercetare Stiintifica (ANCS), Romania
- Government Institution Centre for Science Research and Statistics (CSRS), Russia
- Turkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Arastirma Kurumu (TUBITAK), Turkey
- Starptautiska Lietiskas Optikas Biedriba
- The International Society for Optical Engineering) (SPIE), Latvia

Task 1.2: Quality management

The NET4SOCIETY2 quality management ensured lean and efficient management procedures, high quality deliverables and events as well as high satisfaction of all network members. The primary goal was to achieve a high degree of 'joint ownership' of the project while addressing formal requirements in an effective and timely manner.

The quality manager worked in tandem with all teams assuring that they produced high-quality outputs. An elaborated quality management plan was developed that included quality criteria and support instruments such as templates.

The main activities concentrated on the monitoring of the project, ensuring that the deliverables were correct, of high quality and delivered on time. The quality management plan included a yearly feedback assessment of the project's progress and achievements.

In addition, participants of NET4SOCIETY2 workshops, trainings and large events were always asked for feedback. High relevance and good performance of the project are reflected in the fact that an overwhelming majority of network partners evaluated the quality of the project as excellent and good (94 % in the project assessment for the second year). Additionally, in the second year assessment almost 90 % said that they benefited from the project much or very much, which is even slightly higher than in the first-year assessment (87 %). The project management received 94 % positive, (including 88 % very positive) feedback in the assessment of the project second year.

The conferences organised by NET4SOCIETY2 received very positive feedback as well. The percentage of participants that rated the events overall as excellent or good, was very high (CSI conference in Vienna 95 %, Active Ageing Conference in Dublin 84 %, Conference on Interdisciplinarity in Brussels 85 %, Security Brokerage in Brussels 92 %).

3.2. WP2: A strong network

Task 2.1: NET4SOCIETY workshops

NET4SOCIETY2 workshops were aimed to facilitate the networking between all SSH NCP to ensure a strong network and information flow of a high quality between SSH NCPs and the EC and other SSH key stakeholders. They address both experienced and new NCPs. All SSH NCPs, whether beneficiary or not, are invited to participate in the project workshops.

NET4SOCIETY2 organised four workshops during the lifetime of the project. The workshops combined input from invited experts on current SSH issues such as Horizon 2020, impact of SSH research or evaluation of SSH proposals with sessions focusing on best practice NCP work, knowledge exchange between NCPs and concrete project activities of NET4SOCIETY2.

The workshops combined different approaches of knowledge transfer and group work including innovative and interactive methods. The quality assessment of the workshops was ensured by feedback sessions and feedback questionnaires. All in all, the workshops received excellent feedback from the participants.

SSH info day in Brussels on 20 October 2011

In addition to the project workshops, NET4SOCIETY2 organised the Commission's SSH info day on the 2011 calls for proposals in Brussels on 20 October 2011. This was an additional task the project carried out on request of the EC. All SSH NCPs were invited to participate in this event that provided information on the SSH 2012 work programme. NET4SOCIETY2 took care of the meeting logistics and reimbursed travel costs of the SSH VNCPs.

Task 2.2: Virtual capacity building

Knowledge exchange between SSH NCPs and capacity building for less experienced NCPs were important objectives of NET4SOCIETY2. As a new means to fulfil these objectives, the project implemented a VHD.

All SSH NCPs had the opportunity to pose questions to the VHD, which were then answered by a group of experienced SSH NCPs. Frequently asked questions were compiled in a 'knowledge base' of the VHD. This service was also used to post important news with relevance for SSH in FP7 or Horizon 2020. The VHD could be accessed through the internal NET4SOCIETY2 website via the link http://helpdesk.net4society.eu/. All SSH NCPs received training on how to use the VHD during the NET4SOCIETY2 workshops.

The virtual help desk (VHD) was launched in November 2011. In 2012 there were 138 visits from 89 unique visitors to the VHD website. In the next project, NET4SOCIETY3, a simplified technical solution for the VHD will be tested.

Task 2.3: Sharing experiences - trainings and bilateral meetings

NET4SOCIETY2 trainings and bilateral meetings aimed at capacity building for NCPs via the transfer of knowledge, good practices and experience on day-to-day NCP activities to all SSH NCPs. The overall aim of this activity was to strengthen the NCP support system to serve FP7 participants in the area of SSH.

Trainings

Five NET4SOCIETY2 trainings were held during the course of the project (Table 6). For three trainings experienced NCPs acted as trainers - all of which already served as trainers during the first NET4SOCIETY2 project. Two trainings were given by a sub-contracted training and communication expert. Participants to the trainings were selected on a first come first serve basis while priority was given to those SSH NCPs who did not attend the respective training during the previous project.

The first training on ' Project management and communication' was targeted at the WP and task leaders, in order to support efficient and successful communication and project management processes in NET4SOCIETY2.

After each NET4SOCIETY2 training, participants' feedback was collected. The trainings were highly appreciated by the trainees, all receiving 100 % positive feedback (overall impression about the training was excellent or good).

Bilateral meetings

The bilateral meetings allowed for professional meetings of two to three days between individual NCPs to foster capacity building and knowledge transfer as well as increased opportunities for networking. A bilateral meeting could have the character of a mentoring visit, but also focus on the strengthening of bilateral SSH research collaborations between two countries.

The task leader and quality manager elaborated guidelines for bilateral meetings which were communicated to all SSH NCPs. All in all, ten calls for bilateral meetings invited NCPs to submit their interest by listing their objectives and expected results of the meeting in a specific template. This template was then assessed by the task leader and the quality manager.

Seven bilateral meetings were carried out during NET4SOCIETY2. Objectives of the meetings included the transfer of good practices of NCP work in areas such as event organisation or the building of a client database. Other goals were information exchange on issues like national NCP organisation structures or learning more on national research systems. Partner search aspects and the increase of ICPC participation in FP7 were further aspects.

WP3: Outreach activities

Task 3.1: Research directory

The research directory is an online directory of actively involved researchers and key players in the FP7 SSH Theme. The directory targets to facilitate research cooperation by giving SSH players visibility. They can insert profiles with their expertise in the directory, which can be searched for potential research contacts online under www.net4society.eu/research-directory.

The research directory was created and implemented in the first NET4SOCIETY project. NET4SOCIETY2 maintained this task and developed it further.

Specific efforts were put into checking the quality of the inserted profiles, rising the number of published profiles and promoting the service to the SSH community. Guidelines on the quality check of profiles and on promotion of the directory were distributed to all NCPs and regularly updated.

In addition, NET4SOCIETY2 established a small quality check team of two network partners to ensure a fast quality check and publication of profiles. During the running time of NET4SOCIETY2, the number of published profiles increased from 320 to 694. The Research Directory now includes published profiles from more than 50 countries - amongst them ICPC such as Argentina, Russia, Taiwan, South Africa, Egypt, India or Indonesia.

Technical modifications to improve the usability of the RESEARCH DIRECTORY were implemented in the second half of the project. A research directory promotion flyer was updated towards the end of the project.

Task 3.2: Partner search quality management team

The NET4SOCIETY2 partner search service supported FP7 applicants to easily find research partners for submitting proposals in Theme 8 'SSH' of FP7. The task provided a single entry point for partner searches with an SSH focus and a sound quality check of these searches. Between the publications of calls in FP7 Theme 8 'SSH' and the call deadlines, NET4SOCIETY2 offered a well-functioning partner search internet tool. Researchers could insert searches for research partners or consortia in a specific topic and browse already submitted partner search profiles. To guarantee a common standard for partner searches all partner search profiles were quality-checked for completeness and - in the case of consortia looking for additional partners - correctness. The quality checks were carried out by the responsible national SSH NCPs (depending on the country of origin of the partner search) and were supported by a dedicated quality management team.

To ensure a smooth running of quality check procedures, guidelines for all SSH NCPs were produced. In addition, the quality management team received a targeted training during the project kick-off meeting.

Website statistics show, that the partner search service was the second most visited website of the NET4SOCIETY2 web pages. During the call FP7-SSH-2012, which was published in July 2011, 72 partner searches were submitted. This number was even exceeded during the FP7-SSH-2013 call (publication in July 2012), when 101 partner searches were submitted. It can be stated that this signifies a major achievement, as these numbers are considerably higher than the numbers of SSH partner search profiles on the well-known CORDIS partner search service. A key advantage of the NET4SOCIETY2 partner search service compared to Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) was the quality check of profiles. However, NET4SOCIETY2 also contributed to the improvement of the CORDIS partner search service and the task leader participated in the respective CORDIS working group.

The task leader closely monitored and evaluated the functioning of the partner search service and produced several reports on the task. In 2012, a short survey among the QUALITY MANAGEMENT TEAM on possible improvements was carried out and resulted in an update of the guidelines.

Task 3.3: SSH opportunities in other FP7 Themes and other European Research Area (ERA) initiatives

This task informed SSH researchers and SSH NCPs about the multiple funding opportunities for Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities beyond Theme 8 SSH. On an annual basis, the task produced the highly popular report 'SSH opportunities - analysis' of SSH-relevant topics in areas other than Theme 8 SSH. This user-friendly document provided SSH researchers with first-hand information on funding opportunities in FP7 in other thematic areas. It also included information on funding opportunities in Joint Programming Initiatives, ERA-NETs or joint technology initiatives.

The document was published shortly after FP7 calls were opened on July 2011 and July 2012. It received a very positive feedback from the research community and each edition was downloaded more than 1,000 times from the NET4SOCIETY2 website.

A further major achievement of this task was the organisation of the conference 'Learning by doing - making interdisciplinarity work' that took place on 15 January 2013 in Brussels. Around 100 attendees took part in the event, where researchers from interdisciplinary FP7 projects funded under different FP7 January 'Cooperation' themes shared their experiences with an audience of EU officials, research managers and scientists.

The main aim of the conference was to identify successful paths for making multi- and interdisciplinarity effective, and to ensure real integration of SSH research in all parts of Horizon 2020. An outcome of the conference was a compilation of concrete recommendations for designing interdisciplinary research programmes and projects.

Task 3.4: A strong network with 3rd countries NCPs and multipliers

Under this task a number of activities were implemented to increase the awareness of SSH in FP7 in third countries (countries that are neither members of the EU nor associated to FP7).

A similar task was already part of the first NET4SOCIETY, thus the task force was already well established as project. The task cooperated closely with other tasks of the project e.g. for promotion, the NHD and the Research Directory.

- Information on international cooperation (INCO) and the activities of the task was distributed through various means. The task developed a dedicated webpage (as part of the general NET4SOCIETY2 webpage) to provide information on SSH research opportunities for researchers from third countries: http://www.net4society.eu/public/international-cooperation.php.
- A dedicated section for third country issues was established in the NET4SOCIETY2 project newsletter that regularly featured articles on INCO. Two NET4SOCIETY2 workshops included sessions on INCO During these sessions, an analysis of ICPC participation in FP7 with regard to SSH was presented, an NCP for INCO explained the EC strategy on INCO in FP7 and a number of SSH NCPs from third countries shared their presented their working environment and challenges.

To highlight the benefits of participating in FP7 projects for ICPCs, task 3.4 produced success stories on projects with successful participation of ICPC partners. These success stories were distributed via the newsletter and the website.

A report analysing in detail the participation of ICPC partners in FP7 Theme 8 SSH in comparison with other themes in FP7 was published on November 2012. This comprehensive analysis provides insight to the ICPC and Third Countries patterns of participation in the SSH Theme, main challenges and collaborations. Several recommendations were drawn from the analysis in order to increase ICPC participation in Horizon 2020 activities.

To facilitate networking with researchers from third countries, this task took upon the promotion of the Research Directory in these countries, and collected profiles from Argentina, Belarus, Chile, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Uganda, Ukraine, USA, and Uzbekistan.

In addition to these activities, the task leader acted as a trainer on the VHD and answered all questions connected to INCO.

Task 3.5: Increasing SSH visibility

Task 3.5 fully achieved its objective to make stakeholders aware of the relevance of SSH and to lobby for a strong SSH programme in Horizon 2020. As a first step, relevant stakeholders and target groups as well as potential allies for the task were identified and included in a communication strategy (part of the task 4.1 deliverable 'Event Concept and Promotion Plan').

The task composed a widely recognised NET4SOCIETY2 Position Paper in response to the EC's Horizon 2020 Green Paper Consultation in spring 2011. The position paper called for a focus on social innovation and a strong SSH-driven Societal Challenge within Horizon 2020. It was presented to a group of EU parliamentarians as well as during Horizon 2020 preparatory workshops organised by the EC. In October 2012, NET4SOCIETY2 - in cooperation with other European networks and organisations in the field of SSH - published an Open Letter to Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn on the importance of SSH within the context of Horizon 2020.The letter was designed as an online petition and collected more than 25 000 signatures by the end of February 2012.

Task 3.5 has achieved considerable progress with regard to networking with other European SSH stakeholders and combining efforts with regard to lobbying for SSH research. These networking efforts cumulated in the establishment of the European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities (EASSH).

In the context of EASSH, NET4SOCIETY2 was involved in composing a second letter to Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, the members of the European Parliament, and the representatives of the council in early 2013.

The letter asked for specific SSH-lead activities in each Societal Challenge to ensure the goal of 'mainstreaming' SSH through the programme.

To illustrate the manifold ways, in which SSH research supports the achievement of policy targets and contributes to the benefit of society and economy, task 3.5 produced a number of 'success stories' of FP7 SSH projects with considerable impact. The stories were published on the NET4SOCIETY2 website: http://www.net4society.eu/public/382.php.

A further task 3.5 instrument to increase the visibility of European SSH research was the bi-annual newsletter 'ISSUES - The voice of SSH in Europe', mainly addressed to policy makers.

3.4 WP4: Events and promotion

Task 4.1: Event concept and promotion plan

One of the main focuses of NET4SOCIETY2 was the organisation of strategic, large scale international events to increase SSH visibility and to support SSH researchers' participation in FP7.

At the outset of the project, work started immediately on devising the 'Event Concept and Promotion Plan' as its objective was to form the backbone of the organisation of the large scale events that were central to the whole project. This document lay out the basic principles for establishing thematic concepts behind the two large scale events and how to identify appropriate events at which NET4SOCIETY2 could participate and further promote the interests of SSH research. The event concept also linked with the project task dedicated to increasing SSH visibility (task 3.5) aimed at ensuring that all the pertinent stakeholders were made aware of the relevance of SSH research and the SSH thematic priority within FP7. The task also involved the coordination of an event task force group. This task force developed the vision and concept of NET4SOCIETY2 events and ensured relevant consultation and links to other actors in order to develop a coherent event strategy for a successful implementation.

Task 4.2: Event organisation

The organisation of the two large scale international events was a central component of the project. Task 4.2 ensured efficient event organisation while building on the concept developed in task 4.1. The first event, Challenge Social Innovation - Innovating Innovation by research, 100 years after Schumpeter (CSI), was organised in Vienna on 19 - 21 September 2011 and the second one, active ageing - the potential for society took place in Dublin, 9 - 11 July 2012. Both events were targeted at the international SSH research community and included a brokerage session to encourage interdisciplinary and international consortium building.

For the first conference and brokerage event Challenge Social Innovation, NET4SOCIETY2 joined forces with a periodical cycle of conferences - ICICI 2011 International Conference on Indicators and Concepts of Innovation - to make use of synergies and reach a higher number of participants. The conference included 17 different thematic panel sessions and more than 100 speakers coming from all over the world. It was attended by 371 registered participants out of whom 158 signed up for bilateral meetings during the brokerage event. The event produced the so-called Vienna Declaration presenting the most needed social innovations and related research topics. Its objective was to feed future research agendas in the field of social innovation at European and international level. All outcomes of the conference are available on http://www.socialinnovation2011.eu/.

The second NET4SOCIETY2 international conference Active Ageing - the potential for society became an official satellite event of the well-known European Science Open Forum (ESOF). During two days four different thematic panel sessions took place with about 30 speakers coming from all over the world. The third day was solely dedicated to the presentation of the 2013 SSH work programme and brokerage event. The Active Ageing event was attended by 172 registered participants out of whom 102 signed up for bilateral meetings during the brokerage event. A website was created for hosting the event promotion and the brokerage tool. Outcomes of the conference are available at: http://www.net4society-activeageing2012.eu/.

In addition to the two large events, NET4SOCIETY2 cooperated with the German SSH NCP in the conference and brokerage July 'Conflict and Peace' on 6 - 7 July 2011 in Brussels.

Task 4.3: Promotion

The NET4SOCIETY2 activities and service for the benefit of the SSH community were promoted from the onset of the project. The network was promoted at several events at national, European and international level. Each NET4SOCIETY2 member was actively engaged in dissemination.

A number of different promotion instruments and material were applied such as project leaflets, poster, roll-up or a standard presentation. An e-newsletter on NET4SOCIETY2 and SSH news was distributed widely via all NCPs. To promote European SSH research in general and NCP services as well as NET4SOCIETY2 in particular a short promotional video was produced. The video can be downloaded from http://www.net4society.eu/321.php.

A specific focus was put on promoting the large-scale events. To this purpose NET4SOCIETY2 prepared several press releases and conference leaflets.

In addition to the promotion tools foreseen at the outset of the project, NET4SOCIETY2 decided to start using social media for promotion of its events and of the project itself. The results were a Facebook site and a LinkedIn account for NET4SOCIETY2, which were applied extensively in the promotion of the Active Ageing Conference and the Brussels conference on interdisciplinary, as well as other initiatives during the second project period.

More details on dissemination activities are included in chapter 4 of this report. Task 4.4: Website

The NET4SOCIETY2 website www.net4society.eu served a variety of functions and included a public website and a password-protected shared workspace. It successfully fulfilled its purpose of being the central virtual cooperation platform to facilitate communication and information of the NET4SOCIETY2 project. The website supported the efficient and quick flow of information for both SSH NCPs' daily work and promotion of the project activities.

It supplied relevant news and information related to SSH research funding, and presented those project services and activities with an external focus. The partner search service and the link to the research directory were integrated in the website.

The internal part of the website reserved for SSH NCPs was linked to the VHD. A user statistics evaluation tool was implemented on August 2011 and used for a better evaluation of the use of the services of NET4SOCIETY2.

The external website www.net4society.eu had around 2 000 visits per month. The three most frequently visited pages were the starting page and the Partner Search pages. The highest download results are achieved by the (task 3.3) document 'Opportunities for researchers', which was downloaded more than 1 000 times in 2011.

Potential Impact:

SSH research provides essential knowledge for understanding the world we live in - in terms of politics, economy and culture. SSH helps to shape identities, to understand human diversity and to hold communities together. Insights from SSH research influence policy and legislation actions.

NET4SOCIETY2's overall aim was to facilitate the successful undertaking of European research cooperation in the area of SSH - thereby supporting SSH research to fulfil its societal function.

The impact of NET4SOCIETY2 can be assessed as considerable. It affected different levels:

(a) increase of European SSH research visibility;
(b) defragmentation of the SSH research community in Europe;
(c) improvement of quality of SSH NCP services.

Increase of European SSH research visibility

Numerous NET4SOCIETY2 activities have contributed to an increased visibility of SSH research in Europe. First and foremost, these were the lobbying activities undertaken by the project. A major goal of NET4SOCIETY2 was to help ensure a significant inclusion of SSH research in Horizon 2002, the upcoming EU FP for Research and Innovation. Instruments to work towards this goal were the provision of a position paper in the EC consultation process for Horizon 2020, activities to encourage SSH researchers to take part in this consultation, or press and media activities connected to this issue. NET4SOCIETY2's voice was heard - the position paper was quoted by other stakeholders and the EC invited the project to share its views in an internal Horizon 2020 preparatory workshop.

The single initiative that clearly led to the widest attention was the Open Letter Initiative, that NET4SOCIETY2 took on together with other SSH key stakeholders. This online petition, calling for a significant society-led challenge in Horizon 2020, attracted more than 25 000 signatures and considerable media attention.

These lobbying activities were crowned with a first success with a society-driven sixth Challenge was included in the ECs proposal for Horizon 2020.

In addition to these lobbying activities, NET4SOCIETY2 increased the visibility of SSH funding opportunities in FP7 outside of Theme 8 SSH. User statistics of the website suggest that the NET4SOCIETY2 'Opportunities' document was one of the most popular services of NET4SOCIETY2. It also received the attention of and positive feedback from the EC.

Defragmentation of the SSH research community in Europe

NET4SOCIETY2 has liaised with a number of stakeholders and key players in the field of research and research funding and thus contributed to the defragmentation of the SSH research community. The project networking contacts contributed to the initiative to found a European level organisation for SSH, the European Alliance for SSH (EASSH). NET4SOCIETY2 was part of the core group that advanced this process. The following table gives an overview of the most important actors that NET4SOCIETY2 was able to reach to cooperate with. Many of the listed organisations are European level and thus function as multipliers to a larger community. Some groups are summarised under one heading, such as 'National Policy Makers'. This includes mostly national ministries for science and research, but also other thematic ministries, parliamentarian committees, agencies and research councils.

In addition to these activities that were rather targeted towards a political level or the level of research management organisations, NET4SOCIETY2 also supported defragmentation of the direct SSH research community by offering numerous networking opportunities. The brokerage events, the research directory, as well as the partner search service need to be mentioned here. Last but not least, through the common day-to-day work in the project as well as the NET4SOCIETY2 workshops as networking opportunities led to a high impact on the defragmentation of the SSH NCP community itself.

Improvement of quality of SSH NCP services

Through its various measures for capacity building, knowledge transfer and exchange of good practices, NET4SOCIETY2 had a direct impact on the overall quality of SSH NCP services in Europe and beyond. In addition, the joining of forces in the project made it possible to establish services, such as the research directory, that would have lain beyond the capacities of individual NCPs.

A vast majority of SSH NCPs (87 %) rated the benefit of NET4SOCIETY2 for themselves as excellent or good (assessment of first year of the project).

Ultimately, improved NCP services can lead to an improved overall quality of research proposals and projects. At the end of the day, better research projects can have a higher impact on society and increase the visibility of SSH research.

Main dissemination activities

NET4SOCIETY2 disseminated its activities and services widely to different target groups, such as SSH NCPs, SSH researchers, research managers, research policy makers and other SSH stakeholders.

The SSH NCPs acted as multipliers and forwarded NET4SOCIETY2 information to their national research communities and stakeholders. This network of SSH NCPs from more than 50 European and international countries, who maintain their national websites, newsletters, mailing lists and contact to different media, provided ideal framework conditions for widespread distribution of information on SSH. The size of the newsletter mailing lists of the NET4SOCIETY2 partners ranges between 700 and 5 000 recipients. The average size can be estimated to be around 2000 recipients. If only two thirds (= 33) of the SSH NCPs in the NET4SOCIETY2 network distributed the information as requested via their newsletters, it can be estimated that more than 60.000 recipients, mostly researchers, received NET4SOCIETY2 information via newsletters.

With regard to the target group of SSH NCPs, NET4SOCIETY2 disseminated best practice mainly through trainings, bilateral meetings, thematic workshops, the VHD and the project e-newsletter.

SSH researchers were informed through the NET4SOCIETY2 website as a focal point for SSH information, providing news, events and publications as well as links to the research directory and the partner search service. Furthermore, the project e-newsletter was also distributed to researchers. Information on the NET4SOCIETY2 large events was distributed through press releases, newsletter items, and websites. The CORDIS news system was a regularly used information tool for disseminating NET4SOCIETY2 information.

The coordinator and the different network partners promoted the project itself in a large number of events, including national FP7 information days or strategic events at international level.

Information to the target group of research managers and research policy makers was distributed through the ISSUES newsletter as well as the website or through press releases.

List of websites: http://www.net4society.eu

Contact details of the coordinator:
Project Management Agency

Part of the German Aerospace Centre National Contact Point for Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities

Angela Schindler-Daniels
NET4SOCIETY2 Coordinator
'Transnational cooperation among National Contact Points for Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities (SSH NCPs)'

Heinrich-Konen-Str. 1
53227 Bonn
Germany
Phone: +49-228-3821-1641
Fax: +49-228-3821-1331
Angela.Schindler-Daniels@dlr.de