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From materials science and engineering to innovation for Europe

Final Report Summary - M-ERA.NET (From materials science and engineering to innovation for Europe.)

Executive Summary:
M-ERA.NET was launched to enhance the competitiveness of the European industry by coordinating and through the continuous improvement and streamlining of European support measures for materials science and engineering.
M-ERA.NET has successfully executed 4 joint calls for transnational cooperative projects 2012-2016, with a total of 357 full proposals submitted. 1604 applicants were involved in these proposals.
A total of 93 projects have been funded from these calls, mobilising around 71.6 MEUR of public funding. With respect to the EC contribution for coordination (2.8 mio €) and public funding mobilised at national/regional levels 2012-2016 (71.6 mio €), M-ERA.NET has achieved a leverage effect of approximately 25.
A major goal was reached with the systematic integration of the RTD community through a consultation process with the so-called Strategic Experts group, bringing together national experts and representatives from selected initiatives such as European Technology Platforms. These experts provided the consortium with valuable input to the annual work programmes.
Cooperation with European stakeholders as well as cooperation with international parties were central activities throughout the 48 months. Contacts were established and further intensified to a number of European funding organisations as well as funding organisations from Taiwan, Russia, South Korea, Brazil and USA with the goal to achieve international participation in the joint calls. All 4 calls had international participation, increasing from 1 non-European funding organisation in 2012 to 4 non-European funding organisations in 2015.
A comprehensive final assessment of M-ERA.NET activities and results 2012-2015 was carried out by an external party in late 2015.
Options for future cooperation were discussed extensively, resulting in a decision for a continuation after the end of the M-ERA.NET lifetime.

Project Context and Objectives:
M-ERA.NET will be a real tool for developing a strong European RTD community on materials science and engineering and for supporting the European economy with respect to the challenges of the 21st century. Building on previous, M-ERA.NET will be a highly ambitious network involving a majority of European key players in national funding of materials science and engineering.
M-ERA.NET will set up a multi-annual policy for joint programming targeted at the whole innovation cycle. Cooperation at an international level will enable the European RTD community to access world leading knowledge.
It is our mission to
• strengthen the status of the European RTD community and economy in materials sciences and engineering;
• mobilise a critical mass of national and regional funding for transnational RTD cooperation in materials science and engineering, thereby achieving a very large leverage effect of the requested FP7 funding;
• set up a novel concept for cooperation to react to emerging needs and to allow coverage of future topics in related thematic areas;
• establish strategic programming of joint activities, addressing societal and technological challenges in an interdisciplinary approach;
• support the exploitation of created knowledge along the whole innovation chain;
• enable enlarged research cooperation within the EU Member States and Associated States;
• establish international cooperation with partners outside Europe;
• exploit the novel developments and strengthen a durable, long term cooperation between funding organisations.

Project Results:
Consolidation of the network partnership:
M-ERA.NET started in 2012 with 37 national and regional funding organisations across Europe. During the project lifetime the network expanded and contacts to relevant European and international funding organisations were established. A total of 10 additional funding organisations (6 European and 4 non-European) joined at least 1 of the 4 joint calls. Because of the overall success of M-ERA.NET the continuation of M-ERA.NET activities beyond 2016 was agreed and 85% of the previous partners decided to join.

Work on the annual work programmes:
A vision and practical work flow for strategic programming were set up to define the work programme for the joint calls and other joint activities. Field experts were involved in the elaboration of thematic areas for the joint calls, representing the European and international RTD community and

Annual joint calls
A robust call design was elaborated. A state of the art IT system was developed by an external provider, with modules for submitting, evaluating and monitoring proposals.
Four joint calls (calls 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015) were designed and successfully implemented, each of them with more than 30 participating funding organisations and annual committed national/regional budgets of around 30 MEUR. International participation the 4 calls was a special highlight with Taiwan participating in all 4 calls, Russia in 3, and Korea and Brazil joining the fourth call (2015).

Interaction with the community
The project progress was presented at a number of international events, including the Industrial technologies conferences 2012 and 2014 and the EuroNanoForum 2013 and 2015. The European RTD community and other stakeholders were continuously involved. International contacts were established and deepened through visits and participation in project meetings.
The RTD community is positive about the instrument: M-ERA.NET is considered an attractive instrument for establishing transnational RTD cooperation and is complementing other funding instruments. The majority of beneficiaries were satisfied with the entire procedure of executing joint calls. According to online surveys, the funded RTD projects have been successful in creating new results for further R&D or even commercialisation, already at the end of the project.

Potential Impact:
• Improved efficiency in the coordination and cooperation of EU Member States and Associated Countries research funding programmes
Implementing a vision for joint strategic programming, M-ERA.NET will achieve the best possible integration of regional and national strategies with European needs and challenges. This will help better align programme strategies for transnational collaboration and eliminate wasteful cross-European programme duplication.
The flexible network approach will allow the coverage of emerging new topics in Industrial Technologies without the need of creating new networks. M-ERA.NET will promote the convergence of funding programmes, the streamlining of programme procedures, and the more efficient use of resources, thereby securing durable, long-term synergies between key actors from national and regional funding systems and players in materials science and engineering.
• Boosted progress in research, technological development, innovation in the field of industrial technologies and particularly materials research
A series of joint calls and other joint activities will generate new knowledge, competitive products and innovative processes. M-ERA.NET will foster a competitive European research base by providing solutions to forthcoming challenges.
• New dynamism in research, technological development and innovation in the field of materials science and engineering
The M-ERA.NET cooperation framework will provide the European RTD community with access to new markets and further promote the exploitation of European and international know how.
The annual work programmes for joint calls and other joint activities will contribute to a renewal of research themes, to an increase in the number of trained researchers and professionals, to shared expertise at the European level and to an increased interdisciplinary cooperation.
• Enlarged research cooperation within the EU, and/or improved cooperation with Third Countries
The very large geographical scope of M-ERA.NET will provide a wide field for establishing new RTD partnerships. In order to ensure maximum benefit for the European economy and RTD community, M-ERA.NET will analyse and identify fields and countries of strategic importance and choose the most appropriate partners for specific cooperation targets. Thus, M-ERA.NET will enable easy access to cooperation with leading research partners and industry outside Europe and make the network a powerful tool to tackle European and global challenges.
• Contribution to achieving EU policies
Embedded in a dynamic environment of European initiatives and efforts, the M-ERA.NET concept for cooperation between national funding organisations will serve as substantial input and good practice that will be highly relevant for designing other means of transnational programme coordination, such as effective Joint Programming Initiatives including adequate implementation concepts. The multi-annual policy for joint strategic programming M-ERA.NET will support the Europe 2020 flagship initiative Innovation Union, the PPPs Factory of Future, Energy-efficient Buildings and European Green Cars and provide appropriate support towards the development of a future Framework Programme. The M-ERA.NET output will further support the ERA-NET Learning Platform.

List of Websites:
Project public website:

Dr Roland Brandenburg
Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)
1090 Vienna, Austria