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Centre of Research Excellence for Advanced Cooperative Systems

Final Report Summary - ACROSS (Centre of Research Excellence for Advanced Cooperative Systems)

Executive Summary:
The ACROSS project aimed at unlocking and strengthening the existing research potential of the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (UNIZG-FER) for the benefit of the national, regional and the EU community. The project reinforced the UNIZG-FER RTD potential, mobilized its human and material resources, developed partnership with outstanding EU research entities and local industry, disseminated and promoted research results and raised awareness among various stakeholders in the area of cooperative systems related to robotics, networked embedded systems and renewable energy systems. The ACROSS global objective was to create a ‘Centre of Research Excellence for Advanced Cooperative Systems’ within the UNIZG-FER, which would be at the forefront of research and development of novel methodologies and advanced engineering approaches for cooperative systems and which will act as a point of contact between academia and industry, providing an infrastructure for scientific exchange.

The ACROSS project enabled know-how level improvement in the field of cooperative systems, and the development of a strategic partnership with 16 leading EU institutions research groups. To initialize the stage of Transfer of Knowledge, in total 35 short-term research staff secondments between the UNIZG-FER research groups and the collaborating EU institutions research groups were accomplished. With the aim of improving the UNIZG-FER’s know-how level in the field of cooperative systems, 24 training visits of ACROSS researchers at the EU research institutions, in total duration of 96.5 months, have been successfully completed. Initial collaboration on joint publications, resulted in further development of strategic partnership between the UNIZG-FER and the research groups from EU institutions through successful application of joint EU projects. One of them is the FP7 project “Dynamic Management of Physically Coupled Systems of Systems (DYMASOS)”. The project is accepted for funding, and is running since October 2013. Several other project proposals were also submitted during the, at the time currently running, Horizon 2020 Calls.

Furthermore, the ACROSS increased the human potential of the UNIZG-FER through the return of recognized Croatian experts from abroad, and recruitment of other experienced researchers. In total, 26 researchers, including 4 returned from abroad, have been employed. Furthermore, 3 recognized Croatian experts have temporarily returned from abroad. At the end of the project, the ACROSS had 23 researchers employed (3 left during the project duration), out of which 19 research positions were secured at the UNIZG-FER by new projects funding, and 4 have decided to leave the UNIZG-FER to work in the industry or other Croatian academic institutions. The ACROSS also reinforced 3 laboratories: (i) Laboratory for Cognitive and Robotic Systems; (ii) Laboratory for Cooperative Networked Embedded Systems, and (iii) Laboratory for Renewable Energy Systems. This included intensive market research and the procurement of new research equipment, its assembly, testing, and presentation to the project partners, stakeholders, and the general public.

Three international conferences, 5 international workshops and 3 invited sessions were organised, along with a realisation of 69 conference participations. The dissemination activities targeted intensively both the general public (web site, leaflets, posters, brochures, 8 public presentations, 5 articles in the printed media, 8 TV interviews/feature stories and 5 exhibitions) and the scientific community (more than 100 papers in peer reviewed journals). To establish stronger links with other R&D actors, industry and policy makers, 5 very successful events were organized relating to coordinated use of the Framework Programme and Structural Funds, setting up Research Driven Clusters, and Management of Intellectual Property.

Four evaluators appointed by the EC visited the UNIZG-FER three times to perform the ex-post evaluation of the ACROSS project. All the evaluators agreed that the ACROSS project had fulfilled in a very good way all the planned tasks and that the project had accumulated all elements in order to achieve excellence at the European level, both in scientific and in organizational matters. The influence of the ACROSS project was significant and made a great contribution to the UNIZG‐FER regarding the human resources and built a base for the future development in a five year period (long‐term orientation). The evaluators strongly believe that UNIZG‐FER has reached the level of a centre of excellence in advanced cooperative systems and a nomination as such at the national level would contribute to the sustainable long‐term development of the unit.

Project Context and Objectives:
The objective of the FP7 REGPOT program is to support research entities in Outermost and Convergent regions of Europe which have succeeded by different approaches to develop European quality research infrastructure and human potential and have been doing well in science and technology, but they would need further actions to become really competitive research entities in the context of European science.

Croatia as a small country (about 4.3 million inhabitants) with the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of about 63% of the average EU GDP belongs to the Convergent region. Its pool of researchers is not large – according to the latest data there are about 5800 Doctors of Science and about 2000 junior researchers. Solutions are sought for the problem of “brain drain” and there is also a major need for investment in research infrastructure. Investments into science, research and technological development of about 0.7% of GDP are inadequate both in their scope and structure, and therefore do not enable progressive movements, but rather only maintain the existing, relatively inefficient status. Therefore, without EU funding it is very difficult for any Croatian research entity to significantly increase the level of its research activities and aim to achieve world-class research results.

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing of the University of Zagreb (UNIZG-FER) is the leading high educational and R&D institution in the fields of electrical engineering and ICT in Croatia. It has been at the forefront of research and education in South-Eastern Europe since 1950s and has developed valuable international cooperation with many research institutions around the world, either directly or through inter-university cooperation. However, UNIZG-FER has to increase its level of integration within the European Research Area (ERA) if it wants to significantly increase its level of research activity and its level of contribution to the sustainable economic and social development of Croatia.

In this context, the ACROSS project aimed at unlocking and strengthening the existing research potential of the UNIZG-FER for the benefit of the national, as well as the regional and EU community. The project reinforced UNIZG-FER RTD potential, mobilized its human and material resources, developed partnership with outstanding EU research entities and local industry, disseminated and promoted research results and raised awareness among various stakeholders in the area of cooperative systems related to robotics, networked embedded systems and renewable energy systems. Possible applications of such cooperative systems are numerous: advanced flexible manufacturing, renewable and sustainable energy, home and office automation, transport, logistics, environmental monitoring, healthcare, security and surveillance, human augmentation etc.

The ACROSS global objective was to create a Centre of Research Excellence for Advanced Cooperative Systems within the UNIZG-FER, which would be at the forefront of research and development of novel methodologies and advanced engineering approaches for cooperative systems and which will act as a point of contact between academia and industry, providing an infrastructure for scientific exchange in the area of cooperative systems. This global objective was to be achieved by execution of the following main objectives:

1. Strengthening the Research Management Potential;
2. Developing the Strategic Partnerships with Outstanding Research Centres in EU and leading Croatian industrial partners;
3. Increasing the Human Potential;
4. Increasing the Technology Potential;
5. Increasing Scientific Visibility and International Reputation;
6. Improving responses to socio-economic needs of Croatia;
7. Earning a certified recognition “EU Centre of Research Excellence”.

Project Results:
The ACROSS work plan consisted of 7 work packages (WPs), each addressing one of the main ACROSS objectives. WP1 to WP6 were executed in parallel during the project duration, while WP 7 was executed after their completion. Significant achieved results with respect to WP1 to WP7 objectives are briefly summarized in the sequel.

WP1 - Project Management. In order to implement and maintain an effective administrative and management infrastructure of ACROSS throughout all the project phases, the ACROSS Project Office was established on October 1, 2011 and according to the plan, the experienced Project Manager (PM) was employed. Prior to the first General Assembly (GA) meeting held on October 28, 2011 and the Project kick of meeting, which took place on November 8, 2011, several internal project management team meetings were held during October 2011. One of the very first tasks was preparation and submission of the project quality plan (PQP), which describes the working methods and procedures employed by the project, as well as the scope of responsibility of the project members. The next bigger step was preparation of a detailed procurement plan for equipment. The plan has been performed during February 2012, after the equipment specifications were updated by the beneficiaries of three laboratories within the funds allocated for each laboratory, and finally approved by the General Assembly on the February 13, 2012 meeting. The project management team spent a significant amount of time trying to ensure that the best value for money is achieved over the lifetime of the equipment in order to successfully improve UNIZG-FER infrastructure by reinforcement of the three laboratories. The next General Assembly meeting was held on April 22, 2013 with the emphasis on introducing the members with activities on WP's 1, 5 and 6. The activities related to WP6 included: preparation of White papers on technology platform on four SRDs and commercial potential in Croatia, preparation activities related to Workshop on research driven clusters for the cooperative systems scheduled for July 2014 and establishing ACROSS database with local companies and research groups on the ACROSS web site. The participants were also introduced with preparation of the First project progress report covering the period from October 1, 2011 to March 31, 2013. The last General Assembly meeting was held on May 22, 2014 with the aim of introducing the members with accomplishments and activities planned until the end of project. One of the main points was preparation of the ACROSS workshop on Cooperative System scheduled to be held on September 10-12, 2014 in Dubrovnik. Regarding the contract management task of WP1, a number of meetings were held with the UNIZG-FER Financial Department in order to have the financial and procurement requirements of the project harmonized with the financial department accounting and purchasing principles as well as its usual internal rules. To additionally strengthen the expertise in EU projects research management, the PM attended 3 workshops related to administrative and financial EU projects management: “Project Management for EU Funded Projects“, provided by European Academy for Taxes, Economics and Law, Berlin from 27 to 28 August 2012; "H2020 and FP7 Financial Workshop” provided by EFPC (UK) Limited- “Finance Helpdesk”, Vienna from 22 to 23 January 2014 and EU Grant Academy © 5-day in house training programme (two days out of five were related to financial, legal and reporting issues), provided by RR & CO. d.o.o. from 15 to 19 September 2014.

WP2 - Know-How Exchange. This WP was devoted to UNIZG-FER know-how level improvement in the field of cooperative systems, and to the development of a strategic partnership with related leading EU institutions research groups. To initialize the stage of Transfer of Knowledge (ToK), in total thirty five (35) short-term research staff secondments between UNIZG-FER research groups and collaborating EU institutions research groups were accomplished. Each short-term secondment was carefully planned by stating the subject, main objectives and expected impacts within internal ACROSS Short-Term Secondments Form. Upon successful completion, a brief report analyzing the added value for the potential increase of the research capacity/quality of UNIZG-FER has been submitted. With aim of improving the UNIZG-FER’s know-how level in the field of cooperative systems, twenty four (24) training visits of ACROSS researchers to the EU research institutions, in total duration of 96.5 months, have been successfully completed. Established collaborations with EU research institutions certainly add value for the potential increase of the research capacity and quality of UNIZG‐FER, which can be best appraised through the number of resulting publications, as well as those in preparation. Like the short-term secondments, training visits were also carefully planned by formulating the subject, main objectives and expected impacts. Analysis of the added value for the UNIZG-FER followed up each successful completion of training visit. In the following we list the numbers of trainings per strategic research domains (SRD's) and outline achievements in view of the number of resulting and planned joint publications. In the area of cooperative cognitive and robotic systems (SRD1), there were eight (8) training visits (ALU-FR, KTH, TUW, TUC, LAGADIC), which have resulted in four (4) joint conference papers and collaborative work in progress on three (3) journal papers. Six (6) training visits in the area of cooperative networked embedded systems (SRD2) (LIU, DSP-TUT, KAU, SISP) have resulted in two joint journal papers (+ 1 in preparation) and three conference papers (+ 2 in preparation). Five (5) training visits in the area of cooperative renewable energy systems (SRD3) (PoliMI, USE, ICCS-NTUA, PoliBa) have resulted in one joint journal paper (+ 1 submitted and 2 in preparation) and one conference paper (+ 1 in preparation). Finally, five (5) training visits belonging to the SRD4 - cooperative control methods (ETHZ, TUM, TUE-CS) have resulted in one journal paper (+ 2 in preparation) and collaborative work on six conference papers (four (4) published, two (2) in preparation). Moreover, fifteen (15) research seminars were held at the UNIZG-FER by recognized experts from the EU research institutions. Initial collaboration on joint publications, resulted in further development of strategic partnership between UNIZG-FER and the research groups from EU institutions through successful application of joint EU projects. Here we list those being accepted for funding. The FP7 project “Dynamic Management of Physically Coupled Systems of Systems (DYMASOS)” in the area ICT-2013-10 Objective 3.4.d: Advanced computing, embedded and control systems - From analyzing to controlling behaviour of Systems of Systems (SoS). The project is running since October 2013, and includes ACROSS researchers from UNIZG-FER, USE and ETHZ. The FP7 FET Project ASSISI - Animal and robot Societies Self-organize and Integrate by Social Interaction is running since February 2013. Two other running FP7 projects in the area ICT are OpenIoT – Open Source Solution for the Internet of Things into the Cloud and UrbanWater - Intelligent Urban Water Management System. Several project proposals have been successfully prepared and submitted in the framework of Horizon 2020 Calls, and some are in preparation for the future calls.

WP3 - Reinforcing human potential. Aims of this WP were to increase the human potential of UNIZG-FER through the return of recognized Croatian experts from abroad and recruitment of other experienced researchers. Stating the dynamics by years, in the first year of the project, from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012, fourteen (14) experienced researchers had been recruited at the UNIZG-FER in their respective research groups, and one (1) person left the project. As of September 30, 2012, ACROSS had thirteen (13) researchers employed. In the second year of the project, from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013, additional six (6) researchers had been recruited, and one (1) person left the project. This made a total of twenty (20) researchers hired from the start of the project, and a total of two (2) who left. As of September 30, 2013, ACROSS had eighteen (18) researchers employed. Eventually, in the third and final year of the project, from October 2, 2013, to September 30, 2014, additional six (6) researchers had been recruited, and one (1) person left the project. This made a total of twenty six (26) researchers hired from the start of the project, and a total of three (3) who left. As of September 30, 2014, ACROSS had twenty three (23) researchers employed. In total 26 researchers, including four (4) returned from abroad, two (2) from USA, one (1) from Austria, one (1) from France, have been employed. During the project as a whole, five (5) out of twenty six (26) researchers hired were female (19.23%), whereby ACROSS’s commitment to the principle of gender equality (five (5) recruited female researchers) has been achieved. Also, very good balance has been achieved between ACROSS strategic research domains. The new researchers have joined their respective research groups, and have been developing their knowledge, skills and competences through a wide range of research, dissemination and knowledge transfer activities, as well as other project related engagements. The ACROSS colloquium, as a weekly scheduled meeting point, has been established, and fifty five (55) research talks have been presented within the series. Several new collaborations between research groups originated solely thanks to the colloquium. Four (4) recruited researchers have defended their doctoral theses, and three (3) more have their doctoral topic formally approved. Two (2) workshops for improvement of generic competences were organized by ACROSS: a Workshop on Management of Intellectual Property, and EU Grant Academy© 5-day in-house training programme. The recruited researchers were involved in submission of twenty (20) new project proposals, of which seventeen (17) were successfully submitted, and eleven (11) have been positively evaluated so far. At the end of the project, nineteen (19) research positions (out of twenty three (23)) have been secured at UNIZG-FER by new projects funding, and four (4) have decided to leave UNIZG-FER: one (1) to an innovative R&D oriented Croatian SME; one (1) to a position in industry, and two (2) will stay in academia, but on other institutions, one as an Assistant Professor at the University of Dubrovnik, Croatia, and the other as an Assistant Professor at the University of Skopje, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)). Furthermore, three (3) recognized Croatian experts have temporarily returned from abroad: an Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada, joined the Autonomous Mobile Robotics (AMOR) group for two (2) weeks and initiated collaboration on the following topics: (i) human location, pose and motion estimation, (ii) learning model based control, and, (iii) motion planning and trajectory generation; a Research Fellow at the Tampere University of Technology, Finland, joined the Signal Processing and System Design (SPSD) group for four (4) months and was involved in two research areas: (i) design and implementation of M‐channel filterbanks, and (ii) development of techniques for light field sensing, processing, and displaying; and finally, an Associate Professor in Computer Science Department at UCSD, and director of System Energy Efficiency Lab at the University of California, San Diego, USA, joined the Advanced Instrumentation Group (AIG) for five (5) months. She contributed to a number of efforts in the areas of a) SmartGrid and SmartBuildings, b) sensor networks for monitoring, c) data centres, and d) mobile systems and initiated collaboration discussions with a number of faculty, postdocs and researchers at UNIZG‐FER. They all presented they work within the ACROSS colloquium talks and used the opportunity to learn about the research activities of their respective groups and to share their valuable experience.

WP4 - Reinforcing research infrastructure. The focus of WP4 was reinforcement of three (3) laboratories: (i) Laboratory for Cognitive and Robotic Systems; (ii) Laboratory for Cooperative Networked Embedded Systems, and (iii) Laboratory for Renewable Energy Systems. This included intensive market research and the procurement of new research equipment, its assembly, testing, and presentation to the project partners, stakeholders, and the general public. In order to help the project execution across the entire project life-cycle (and beyond) ACROSS project team set an acquisition strategy, which comprised definition of technical requirements, logistics, and quality of equipment, delivery times and provided services. Due to Croatian legislation, the procurement strategy had been devised separately for two types of procurement: i) an open procedure (public tenders) for equipment with value above approx. 9,300.00 EUR, and ii) a direct procurement for equipment with value below approx. 9,300.00 EUR. During contract awarding processes the ACROSS management team, depending on the type and characteristics of the equipment, devised and implemented adequate procurement processes in terms of efficiency, efficacy and compliance with laws and regulations. Acquisition procedures were transparent in terms of information, timeliness, criteria and judgment. Competitors were allowed to access all relevant information, in order to avoid unfair advantage to one or more bidders. Despite of the new public procurement law, introduced on January 1, 2012, which in general slowed down the procurement process at UNIZG-FER, the first invitation to tender was published in March 2012 and all equipment had been delivered and tested within the time planned. Although it was planned that all equipment was purchased in the first reporting period, about 4% of the fund devoted to equipment was left for the second reporting period. Upon execution of the Procurement Plan and arrival of the equipment, ACROSS Project Management Team set equipment functionality test strategy in order to provide thorough investigation of features of purchased equipment on time. Each member of WP4 Team has been assigned to one of ACROSS Laboratories to coordinate equipment tests. Tests have been conducted by ACROSS team members according to specifications given by manufacturers. Upon completion of tests ACROSS team members filled equipment functionality tests forms and all tests have been documented by shooting video clips and/or photography. The main equipment presentation took place at the UNIZG-FER premises, and newly established Centre of Research Excellence for Advanced Cooperative Systems on November 21, 2012. Some parts of equipment were presented to the public earlier and after during the project, through media, and in many cases through on-hands experience, especially in case of visitors from high schools and other faculties. The presentation was organized in conjunction with the Joint Workshops on Structural Funds and Research Driven Clusters (WP6), organized by ACROSS. This event was chosen for the presentation due to the fact that most of workshop registrants were officials from government, public services, Croatian companies and other stakeholders. Furthermore, ACROSS Steering Committee members were present at the workshop. Due to numerous items, most of the equipment, mainly electronic devices, was placed in a long corridor so that visitors could walk from the workshop area down to the corridor towards the ACROSS centre. Each part of the equipment was accompanied by a researcher, ACROSS employee, so that functionality of equipment was demonstrated to visitors. Larger items of the equipment, mainly outdoor mobile robots, were presented at the ACROSS centre, where researchers demonstrated their functionality. The third part of presentation took place at 13th floor of UNZG-FER building, where renewable energy resources equipment was demonstrated.

WP5 - Workshops and Conferences Organisation and Participation. In order to facilitate knowledge transfer and research network building at regional, national and international level involving both, the UNIZG-FER research staff as well as invited international researchers relevant to the development of the UNIZG-FER research capacities, this WP was dedicated to organisation of conferences, workshops, and special sessions. Furthermore, with the aim of increasing UNIZG-FER’s reputation and recognisability this WP involved participation in international conferences and workshops, as well as membership of international programme committees. ACROSS organized three (3) international conferences, all in Dubrovnik. IFAC Symposiums on Robot Control (SYROCO) 2012 was directly relevant to SRD1 and SRD4. IEEE Multi-Conference on Systems and Control (MSC) 2012 was directly relevant to SRD4 and SRD2 and partly relevant to SRD1 and SRD3. Finally, International Conference on Electrical Drives and Power Electronics (EDPE) 2013 was directly relevant to SRD3 and SRD4. Furthermore, ACROSS organized five (5) international workshops: “The 1st ACROSS Workshop on Cooperative Cognitive and Robotic Systems” in 2013 (directly relevant to SRD1); “The 1st ACROSS Workshop on Cooperative Networked Embedded Systems” in 2013 (directly relevant to SRD2); “The 1st ACROSS Workshop on Cooperative Renewable Energy Systems – Microgrid” in 2012 (directly relevant to SRD3), “The 1st ACROSS Workshop on Cooperative Control Methods” in 2013 (directly relevant to SRD4); and “ACROSS Workshop on Cooperative Systems” in 2014 (directly relevant to SRD1, SRD2, SRD3, and SRD4). The first four were organized in Zagreb at the premises of UNIZG-FER, while the last one was organized in Dubrovnik. Also, three (3) invited sessions were organized by ACROSS: “Invited Session on Computer Vision Systems for Robots and Vehicles” at IFAC SYROCO 2012 (directly relevant to SRD1), “Invited Session on Systems with Multiple Electromagnetic Sensors” at IEEE Sensors Application Symposium 2014 (directly relevant to SRD2), and “Special Track on Robot Vision” at 13th International Conference on Intelligent Autonomous Systems (IAS-13) (directly relevant to SRD1). Either presenting their own recent research results, organizing and chairing special sessions or round tables, or being members of international programme committees, ACROSS researchers actively participated in sixty nine (69) international conferences. By years they realised three (3) participations in the first year, twenty one (21) participations in the second year, and forty five (45) participations in the final year of the project.

WP6 - Dissemination, Regional Development and Impact Assessment. The ACROSS dissemination activities were very intensive during the whole period of the project. Project aims, results and activities were disseminated to general public, research community, as well as industry and policy makers. In order to achieve the objective, various means of dissemination were used to reach audience as wide as possible. In the following we list the most important ones. ACROSS web site was created and launched at the beginning of the project and has been continuously updated. ACROSS leaflet, poster and brochure were printed and distributed at many occasions and they are still available for download at the ACROSS web site. ACROSS YouTube channel, which contains video clips that present major dissemination events as well as equipment demonstration, has been opened. ACROSS goals and activities were intensively promoted in Croatian electronic media and press (five (5) articles in the printed media and eight (8) TV interviews/feature stories). With five (5) exhibitions ACROSS was presented on regional trade shows in the sector. More than hundred (100) scientific papers appeared in prominent peer reviewed journals and over 200 titles in peer reviewed conference proceedings. In order to assess the R&D&I capabilities as well as market potential of cooperative systems and technologies in Croatia, information on Croatian companies and R&D groups active in ACROSS related domains was collected and public database with was created at the ACROSS website. To establish stronger links with other R&D actors, industry and policy makers, five (5) very successful events were organized relating to coordinated use of the Framework Programme and Structural Funds, setting up Research Driven Clusters, and Management of Intellectual Property. Each key topic was first discussed at a dedicated round table and then at joint workshops held on Nov 21, 2012. Dedicated workshops on networking for preparation and setting up research driven clusters were organized for specific SRDs. For SRD3, workshop for "Preparation of Croatian technology platform for cooperative renewable energy systems and smart grids" was held on July 2, 2013 and joint SRD1, 2, 4 workshop „Towards long term research agendas" was held on July 2, 2014. Impact assessment of the project was discussed with Steering Committee at the meetings held every year (four meetings in total).

WP7 - Evaluation of the UNIZG-FER by experts appointed by the EC. Four experts appointed by the EC: Prof. Anthimos Georgiadis, Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Germany, Chair of the Evaluation Committee; Prof. Mihaela Albu, “Politehnica” University of Bucharest, Romania; Dr. Birgitte Lønvig, Care2Wear A/S, Denmark; and Prof. Ulrich Berger, Die Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus‐Senftenberg, visited UNIZG-FER three (3) times and held discussions with the researchers, the research management, and the ACROSS Steering Committee in order to evaluate the capacity of the UNIZG-FER to handle its objectives with the means available in situ, and the perspectives to maintain or to increase UNIZG-FER's research capacity and the pertaining necessary means. They visited all three laboratories reinforced by the ACROSS project and have been received by the UNIZG-FER authority. According to the evaluators, the collaboration with all the involved parties was excellent. All evaluators agreed that the ACROSS project had fulfilled in a very good way all planned tasks and that the project had accumulated all elements in order to achieve excellence at the European level, both in scientific and in organizational matters. The influence of the ACROSS project was significant and made a great contribution to UNIZG‐FER regarding the human resources and built a base for the future development in a five year period (long‐term orientation). The evaluators strongly believe that UNIZG‐FER has reached the level of a centre of excellence in advanced cooperative systems and a nomination as such at national level will contribute to the sustainable long‐term development of the unit.

Potential Impact:
It is expected that the ACROSS project will reinforce UNIZG-FER RTD potential, mobilise its human and material resources, develop partnership with outstanding EU research entities and local industry, disseminate and promote research results and raise awareness among various stakeholders in the area of cooperative systems. More specifically, the expected impacts of the ACROSS project were:

• Better integration of the UNIZG-FER in the European Research Area. The ACROSS strategic research domains were high on the agenda of the ICT, as evidenced by former FP7 Calls. The Centre was built upon the UNIZG-FER’s existing RTD capacities and strategic collaboration with 16 EU partnering organisations from 10 EU Members States and Switzerland and with 3 partnering organisations from Croatia (leading Croatian industrial companies). Through intensive exchange of know-how (WP2) and organization of conferences and workshops (WP5), ACROSS strongly boosted networking capability, thus enabling UNIZG-FER to make a significant step forward in new research directions, and towards developing strategic partnerships with EU research institutions with the help of EU experts.

• Increased RTD capacity and capability as well as the quality of research carried out at the UNIZG-FER. The RTD capacity and capability as well as the overall quality of research was significantly upgraded by: (i) reinforcing human potential (WP3) and research infrastructure (WP4) comparable to similar research centers in high performing EU countries, (ii) improving research management (WP1) and (iii) unifying the RTD activities at UNIZG-FER in the domains relevant for ACROSS. Human potential was reinforced by: (i) employing 26 new researchers and experienced project manager; (ii) specialised training visits of the UNIZG-FER’s research staff in partnering research organisations and EU experts visits (WP2); (iii) work on upgraded and newly acquired research equipment (WP4); (iii) participation and presentation of research results at international workshops and conferences (WP5), and (iv) participation in related research projects of the UNIZG-FER. An increase of the quality of research can be already seen through increased number of journal papers from about 30 to about 45 per year and increased number of papers in highly ranking journals. By employment of experienced researchers and by upgrading UNIZG-FER research infrastructure, together with close cooperation with EU research institutions, the necessary prerequisites were met to further advance and improve the quality of the research at UNIZG-FER in the research domains targeted by ACROSS.

• Increased contribution to Croatian economic and social development. ACROSS has impacted strongly Croatian economic and social development by offering information and services to all the interested stakeholders and the general public (WP6): (i) Other R&D groups have the possibility for joint R&D projects; (ii) End-user community has the possibility to use UNIZG-FER expertise and developed solutions for their applications; (iii) Industry has the possibility to embark on new production/services with the help of UNIZG-FER; (iv) Governmental bodies have the possibility to use our expertise to prepare for the Technology Platforms for related domains in Croatia; (v) Students have the possibility to embark on R&D in these fast changing research domains; (vi) General public is informed about the R&D going on at the UNIZG-FER and other issues related to ACROSS research from a competent source. A social impact has been also achieved through the so called "brain gain": (i) 4 experienced researchers have returned from abroad; and (ii) 3 recognized Croatian experts from abroad stayed temporally in Croatia.

• Increased participation of the UNIZG-FER in EU-level projects. Through active participation of EU experts and twinning between UNIZG-FER and partnering EU research entities (WP2), ACROSS created a stimulating environment for all involved entities for multilateral collaboration within EU RTD projects in order to help sustain the research partnership. By reinforcing its research infrastructure (WP4) and human resources (WP3), UNIZG-FER is more ready and better equipped to participate in such research activities at EU-level. During the course of the ACROSS project, ACROSS researchers have become partners in five new EU FP7 projects, while several project proposals have been submitted or are in the preparation phase for Horizon 2020 calls.

List of Websites:

http://across.fer.unizg.hr

Contact:
Prof. Ivan Petrovic
University of Zagreb
Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing
Department of Control and Computer Engineering
10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Email: ivan.petrovic@fer.hr
Tel: +385 1 6129 844
Fax: +385 1 6129 809