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Improving the services of the NMP NCP Network through Trans-national Activities 2

Final Report Summary - NMPTEAM2 (Improving the services of the NMP NCP Network through Trans-national Activities 2)

Executive Summary:
The NMP TeAm 2 project (“Improving the services of the NMP NCP Network through Trans-national Activities 2 ”, CSA-CA 290428) is the official project of the National Contact Point (NCP) network of the FP7 thematic priority 4, Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials & new production technologies (NMP) with 16 main partners and the entire NMP NCP Network worldwide associated. The project covered a period of 2 1⁄2 years, running from February 2012 till July 2014. The project was the continuation of the successful project NMP TeAm and aimed at improving the services provided by the NMP NCP Network across Europe through the closer collaboration between the NMP NCPs themselves and the normalisation of the differences in knowledge and quality of provided services across the NCP Network in Europe and beyond.

NMP TeAm 2 had activities to increase capacities for NMP NCPs like training workshops (5 organised) and produced material (factsheets, detailed e-guides and standard presentations) to assist all NMP NCPs in providing uniform high quality services. 8 staff exchanges took place and Twinning of 5 NCPs with more experienced ones also took place to assist the training of colleagues.

The Partner Search Facility adopted from NMP TeAm, which is already used by many NMP NCP colleagues and their clients, with features such as free text searching and enrichment with other NMP related calls. The Partner Search Facility has, to date, 662 published research partner offers and 88 partner searches, with 2031 registered users from 72 countries, while 54 NMP NCPs from 32 countries validate entries.

NMP TeAm organised together with the Enterprise Europe Network, European Technology Platforms and other key players 7 brokerage events (5 more than foreseen) among others at large events like EuronanoForum 2013, Industrial Technologies 2012 & 2014 with more than 600 participants from 40 countries and with more than1 300 pre-arranged meetings.

NMP TeAm organised 4 awareness campaigns in Latvia, Romania, Poland and Hungary to increase awareness on H2020 and services NMP NCPs provide and has presence with stand at 8 large events including EuronanoForum 2013, Industrial Technologies 2012 & 2014 etc.

Through project NMP TeAm, NMP NCP Network created its own identity with a distinct logo designed by the NCPs themselves, a brochure, posters and presentation templates as well as an impressive pop up system for use in stands and luggage tags as give outs in stands.

For more information, please visit the NMP TeAm website at www.nmpteam.com or contact the project coordinator, Dr Apostolos Dimitriadis, PRAXI Network/FORTH, Thessaloniki, Greece, adimi@help-forward.gr www.help-forward.gr +30 2310552791.

Project Context and Objectives:
The National Contact Point (NCP) Network, in operation since the beginning of the 5th Framework Programme in 1998, is a valuable resource available to the scientific and industrial community of Europe interested in utilising the expertise to the Nationally appointed experts (NCPs) in order to produce high quality research and technological developments. The NCPs:
* act as ambassadors for the European Commission in raising awareness of the wider public and the potential proposers in the importance of the framework programmes and relaying not only the information but also important messages and views from the Commission, especially important at a time of preparation of the next research programmes under Horizon2020,
* act as a multiplier for raising awareness of the forthcoming calls,
* act as technical consultants to the proposers in the proposal writing procedures as well as in the completion of the administrative forms and the submission procedure.

However, the structure and “modus operandi” of the National NCP Network are quite different from country to country and this often reflects on the manner, the speed and the quality of the services that are provided. Furthermore, the NCP job is often a part time one, being done as just one of many tasks, and so the limitation of time reflects the services provided. These two factors, coupled with the fact that NCPs often change, some time as frequently as every six months, can create turmoil in the NCP system and hence, lower the impact of the NCP network as a whole.

It is therefore of the utmost importance to design transnational collaborative activities (including joint development and use of methodologies and tools, coordinated awareness campaigns, joint activities, training, twinning schemes, partner-search and partnership building events) for the NMP NCP Network in order to accommodate its peculiarities, standardise the way in which services are provided and improve the networks visibility and “identity”. In addition, it is important to reach and serve a larger target audience, and ensure that the NMP related “clientèle” (including research, academic and industrial players), experienced and new, can be a part of the NMP FP7 programme. A specific focus needs to be on helping less experienced NCPs (including appointed FP7 Contacts in third countries) to rapidly acquire the know-how accumulated in other countries.

NMP TeAm 2 built on the results and the achievements of the FP7 NMP NCP Network project NMP TeAm, funded under NMP-2008-4.0-11 - NCP trans-national activities in April 2009. The project aimed to improve the NMP NCP service across Europe to the benefit of the scientific and industrial community engaged in European research and technological development and hence simplify access to FP7 calls, lower the entry barriers for newcomers and raise the average quality of submitted proposals.

NMP TeAm 2 included the entire NMP NCP Network (including all NMP third country contacts). It had two types of partners, the beneficiaries (or “core” for everyday communication) partners, those being the 16 organisations, all officially nominated NCPs, who were listed as partners in this project, who accessed the grant agreement with the European Commission and who carried out the work described in the technical part of the project. The other non beneficiaries (or “associated” for everyday communication) partners, were official NMP NCPs, without resources to be engaged in the project or contractual responsibilities but who enjoy all the deliverables of this project, including the developed tools and methodologies and who were able to take part in all project activities with their travel and accommodation paid by the project partner responsible for the specific activity.

The concept of this project was to utilise the opportunity given for the official NMP NCPs in order:
* To optimise the tools developed in the 1st phase of NMP TeAm to the benefit of the networks clients. The partner search system and the website (with the partner search system embedded into it) were further improved to include new features and the newest communication technologies. The iLinc on line conferencing software acquired during NMP TeAm project will aid the Network in their communication, networking and would ensure the participation of NCPs and their clients who are unable to travel to network and project activities without their physical presence.
* To maximise awareness about the NMP NCP Network and its services and reach the interested audience through the presence at National and European events with joint NMP NCP stands, brokerage (partnership building) events, joint awareness campaigns including visits to industrial and research players and specialised workshops and taking advantage of large European technology platforms events through establishing links with them and with the Enterprise Europe Network will aid in this direction. Third country participation was also to be enhanced.
* To further standardise the Network skills and the provided services through the adoption of the charter of services for the clients, the creation of fact sheets and e-guides, presentations for training and other material for the use of NCPs and through the provision of targeted training to both new NCPs and established NCPs, twinning schemes and staff exchanges
* To assist the Commission in raising the awareness of proposers in schemes or modus operandi linked with new EU initiatives likely to be decided in the last 3 years of

Project Results:
This project builded on the results and the achievements of the FP7 NMP NCP Network project NMP TeAm funded under NMP-2008-4.0-11 – “NCP transnational activities” in April 2009 including the further improvement of the partner search tool and the interactive website, the training activities, the partnership building and other networking events and the cooperation with the NMP related Networks. New modules for training activities were introduced to assist NCPs target specific sub-groups of the NMP clientèle, namely SMEs, RTOs as well as international partners. Importance was given on strengthening the ties within the Network, an essential ingredient for stronger and more effective collaboration through team building activities.

Throughout the duration of NMP TeAm 2, several activities that benefited NMP NCPs and their clients were undertaken. The most significant results of these activities were:
* The update of the NMP TeAm website with additional functionality and information. The website with news, events and information on calls related to NMP became a focal point of the community and attracted more than 20 000 users since 2012.
* The upgrade of the Partner Search Facility with new features and its successful deployment well in time for use by H2020 participants. In total:
** 54 NCPs from 32 Countries validate entries
** 2 031 registered users from 72 countries (1 300 of them since 2012)
** 662 published partner offers
** 88 published partner searches.
* The use of iLinc for two virtual brokerage events on the on the 28th of August 2012 with 27 participants and on 2nd of July 2014 with 39 participants. NMP TeAm is the first NCP network to use such a tool and the only NCP network that has organised virtual brokerage events.
* The organisation of five training workshops for NMP NCPs:
** In Málaga, Spain for newly appointed NMP NCPs with 13 participants (22-23.05.2012).
** In Athens, Greece for newly appointed NMP NCPs with 9 participants (09.04.2014).
** In Aarhus, Denmark, immediately after the NMP NCP Meeting, with 24 participants (20.06.2012). The event was dedicated to Project Management.
** In Brussels, Belgium following an NMP NCP Meeting, with 19 participants (31.01.2013). The event was dedicated to IPR issues
** In Athens, Greece with 19 participants (10.04.2014). The event was dedicated to the new H2020 SME Instrument.
* 8 Staff exchanges and 5 twinning schemes for more experiences NCPs to share their knowledge and expertise with less experienced colleagues.
* A set of documents to assist NCPs provide uniform services of high quality:
** “First aid Kit” with 10 factsheet and 5 e-guides for assisting NMP NCPs to provide assistance to their clients.
** NCP standard presentations for info days, addressing specifically SMEs and SME topics
** A set of guidelines for the communication, organisation and moderation of industry events
** Checklist on how to improve the quality of SME proposals.
* 7 brokerage events (5 foreseen) together with the EEN (among others at large events like EuronanoForum 2013, Industrial Technologies 2012 & 2014)) to assist NCPs clients to meet potential partners and build strong consortia:
** More than 600 participants
** 40 countries
** More than1 300 pre-arranged meetings
* 4 awareness campaigns in Latvia, Romania, Poland and Hungary to increase awareness on H2020 and services NMP NCPs provide.

Potential Impact:
The expected impacts of this project as listed in the work programme were: An improved NCP service across Europe, therefore helping simplify access to FP7 calls, lowering the entry barriers for newcomers, and raising the average quality of submitted proposals and an increased number of good quality proposals as well as of newcomers and assisting the Commission in raising the awareness of proposers in schemes or modus operandi linked with new EU initiatives likely to be decided in the last 3 years of FP7, and in connection with the preparation of future research programmes. The variety of the tasks undertaken in this project were designed in order to help the NCP NMP Network offer to its target audience improved services, more structured and whenever possible in a consistent and standardised way. The further improvement of the partner search system and the professional well structured website of the NMP NCP Network (which are already making an impact), the variety of training activities, the charter of the NMP NCP services as well as the creation of factsheets and e-guides will be important steps made towards the “professionalisation” of the NMP NCP Network.

The variety of events for the clients, utilising when possible other available Networks related to programme NMP, some of them even funded by the NMP programme (e.g. Networks of Excellence), European Technology Platforms as well as other initiatives of the commission, such as the Enterprise Europe Network (under the CIP programme) utilising International conferences, adding value to National information days by combining joint awareness campaigns are designed to reach a widest possible target audience, to lower the entry barriers for newcomers and hopefully to contribute to raising the average quality of submitted proposals.

The actions under project NMP TeAm 2 have short term and long term impacts, stemming from the Improvement of the NMP NCP Network provided services to their clients. The short term impact is the better awareness of the FP7 NMP programme and calls to the research community and more and better quality proposals being submitted from also new comers. The long term impact is raising the awareness of proposers in schemes or modus operandi linked with new EU initiatives likely to be decided in the last 3 years of FP7, and in connection with the preparation of future research programmes, i.e. assisting the Commission in the formulation of Horizon 2020. A further long term impact is assisting the Commission in the achievement of the flagship initiative Europe 2020 in which great emphasis is based on research and innovation.

NMP TeAm 2 project is a coordination action and it primarily concerns networking and awareness activities. One of its prime objectives is to create awareness about the NMP NCP Network and its services to the NMP community and reach a wider possible target audience. For this reason, the project has utilised all available means in order to achieve reaching all relevant stakeholders and key players in the NMP programme.

It has created links with the European Technology Platforms and other EU funded Research networks and projects (such as networks of excellence and ERANets), other relevant EU initiatives and programmes such as the Enterprise Europe Network (a business support network under the CIP programme) therefore utilising all possible channels to reach the key players in the NMP programme as well as create awareness and stimulate participation of newcomers to the programme. Links to the other thematic programme NCP Networks have been enforced, specifically with the themes of relevance to the NMP programme and with which the NMP programme has joint calls (such as Energy, Environment, ICT and Transport (including aeronautics)) and joint actions such as joint stands ensured that the information for joint calls (and related events) reached all possible interested parties, both established players in the programmes and newcomers.

National and international events such as conferences, NMP call information days have been utilised in order to promote the participation of research and industrial partners into the FP7 & H2020 NMP programme and to create partnerships for research consortia. Through the NMP TeAm partner search system, which is embedded in the NMP NCP Networks website, it links partner expertise offers with consortia searching for the expertise thus easing the access of newcomers into already existing consortia.

Raising awareness among relevant State authorities of the importance of NMP NCPs to the wider public relevant to the NMP theme has been aided by the fact that the partners in project NMP TeAm 2 both beneficiaries and other non beneficiaries are mostly public organisations or wider public organisations, which have access to wide relevant audiences. Press releases and presentations have been made by all partners in National and international audiences and have been circulated to all NMP NCPs for dissemination within their countries.

It is also worth mentioning that the excellent collaboration of the NMP TeAm project and all the NMP NCPs with the DG Research and Innovation, directorate G: Industrial Technologies has ensured the most important highlights of the project as well as any news or announcements targeting the wider public have been uploaded also on the official website of the Industrial Technologies.

List of Websites:

For more information, please visit the NMP TeAm website at www.nmpteam.com or contact the project coordinator, Dr Apostolos Dimitriadis, PRAXI Network/FORTH, Thessaloniki, Greece, adimi@help-forward.gr www.help-forward.gr +30 2310552791.