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

Final Report Summary - NET4SOCIETY3 (Trans-national co-operation 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 Societal Challenge 6 (SC6) in Horizon 2020 and Socio-Economic Sciences and the Humanities (SSH) in FP7. NET4SOCIETY supports networking in the research community and helps SC6/ SSH NCPs to competently advise on all aspects of Horizon 2020. At the same time the network aims at increasing the visibility of European SSH research and supporting the integration of SSH throughout Horizon 2020.

NET4SOCIETY was first set up in 2008 as an EU-funded project and was running in its third round (NET4SOCIETY³) from 1 February 2013 to 31 January 2015. For its two years’ duration, the project had a budget of nearly 1 million €. Over 80 European and international SC6/ SSH NCPs are active in the network.

A specific objective of NET4SOCIETY³ was to support NCPs and researchers in the transition from FP7 to Horizon 2020 by providing the necessary knowledge and tools. This commitment translated into a series of tailor-made workshops and high quality trainings. Tools like a Virtual Helpdesk, an e-newsletter and a network internal website further facilitated the exchange of knowledge and best practices.

At the same time the project promoted the relevance and impact of European SSH research – in all parts of Horizon 2020. Analytical reports and publications such as a Policy Brief on interdisciplinary research design, as well as a workshop on “Embedding SSH in Horizon 2020” worked towards this goal. To highlight funding opportunities for SSH researchers in all parts of Horizon 2020, NET4SOCIETY³ produced the widely disseminated and highly appreciated document “Opportunities for SSH Researchers”.

The project also aimed to strengthen the European Research Area in SSH and to reduce the fragmentation of the SSH research community. To this end, NET4SOCIETY³ organised the international conference and brokerage event “Achieving Impact. Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities in Horizon 2020” (26-27 February 2014, Athens), which attracted more than 350 participants. Through a dedicated matchmaking session, the event promoted networking and consortium building. Similar support was provided through the Research Directory – a database of SSH key players in European research – and an online partner search service.

In a survey among network members, all participating SC6/ SSH NCPs rated the benefit of NET4SOCIETY³ for themselves as either excellent (72%) or good (28%).

Project Context and Objectives:
NET4SOCIETY is the network of National Contact Points (NCPs) for Horizon 2020’s Societal Challenge 6 (SC6) “Europe in a changing world: inclusive, innovative and reflective societies” and Socio-Economic Sciences and the Humanities (SSH). Over 80 European and international SC 6/ SSH NCPs from around 50 different countries are active in the network. NET4SOCIETY supports networking in the research community and helps NCPs to competently advise on all aspects of Horizon 2020 (and formerly FP7). At the same time the network aims at increasing the visibility of European SSH research.

NET4SOCIETY was first set up in 2008 as an EU-funded project and was running in the third round (NET4SOCIETY³) from 1 February 2013 to 31 January 2015. For its two years’ duration, the project had a budget of nearly 1 million €.

The context in which NET4SOCIETY³ was implemented was shaped by the changes brought about by the transition from the 7th EU Framework Programme (FP7) to Horizon 2020, the new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation starting in 2014.

The project lifetime covered the last year of FP7 (2013), and the first of Horizon 2020 in 2014. The adoption of the new Framework Programme increased the demand and need for information considerably, from both NCPs and researchers. Providing SSH-targeted information was of particular importance at the onset of Horizon 2020 because, in contrast to the introduction of past Framework Programmes, Horizon 2020 broke with many past procedures and approaches. It put a particular focus on innovation as well as on the interdisciplinary approach of the “societal challenges”. SSH dimensions are to be embedded in all areas of Horizon 2020 – there is no longer a dedicated SSH programme. During the running time of the project, SSH NCPs became Societal Challenge 6 NCPs. This meant – besides many personnel changes in the network – that NCPs had to cover new thematic areas and address new target groups.

All these changes had to be reflected in NCP services and researchers’ proposals. In this context, NET4SOCIETY³ played a major role in supporting NCPs and researchers alike to take up these challenges.

The overall strategic objectives of NET4SOCIETY³ were to:
• Enhance NCP services and facilitate the transition from FP7 to Horizon 2020
• Enable researchers to take up the challenge of the new Framework Programme Horizon 2020
• Promote the relevance of SSH research and its impact
• Strengthen the European Research Area (ERA) in Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities
Within the individual work packages of NET4SOCIETY³, more detailed objectives were set:

WP1 Project Management
• Overall project coordination and network management
• Close cooperation with EU Commission and SC 6/ SSH NCPs
• Administrative, financial management and reporting
• Quality management

WP2 Knowledge Transfer and NCP support
• Enhance networking between all SC 6/ SSH NCPs and increase cooperation with other NCP networks and relevant projects in FP7
• Exchange knowledge, experiences and best practices
• Facilitate information flow and improve the knowledge base for all SC 6/ SSH NCPs, and facilitate the exchange of knowledge both with the European Commission DGs and key stakeholders
• Assist SC 6/ SSH NCPs to better advise on the characteristics of SC6 and of SSH embedding in Horizon 2020

WP3 Strategy and Outreach
• Increase SSH visibility through reinforcing cooperation with other relevant European stakeholders and support a full integration of SSH in Horizon 2020
• Support SSH researchers by providing information on SSH opportunities in Horizon 2020 and other ERA-Initiatives
• Help researchers to extend their contacts via a Research Directory and a Partner Search tool, and adapt existing tools to Horizon 2020 demands
• Assess obstacles to EU-13 participants and ICPC involvement in SSH research and provide recommendations for future improvement initiatives

WP4 Events and Promotion
• Organise a large scale transnational SSH event linked to the launch of Horizon 2020 during the Greek European Council Presidency in early 2014
• Promote SC 6/ SSH NCP activities and services and results of NET4SOCIETY across Europe with updated promotion material
• Establish information channels and provide up-to-date information for SC 6/ SSH NCPs and researchers alike on Horizon 2020 implementation and development, main documents and other relevant information events
• Ensure adequate promotion of the project and its activities

Project Results:
NET4SOCIETY³ has fully achieved its objectives. The project was able to successfully support NCPs and researchers in the transition to Horizon 2020. During the lifetime of the project, the project workshops, trainings and a network internal helpdesk as capacity building activities have ensured that newcomer and experienced SC 6/ SSH NCPs learned and exchanged their experiences about the novelties of the new Framework Programme. The visibility of SSH research and its impact were increased through different activities like the organisation of a large conference. Researchers from SSH and other areas relevant to Societal Challenge 6 were supported through a number of networking instruments and the provision of information on funding opportunities.

Main results of the project include:

• Knowledge exchange between SC 6/ SSH NCPs and capacity building through workshops, trainings, a virtual helpdesk, exchange of best practices and networking
• Targeted support for newcomer NCPs through a standardised welcome procedure and dedicated sessions in the project’s workshops
• Increased visibility of SSH through the organisation of a large conference focused on the “impact of SSH” and further activities (e.g. ISSUES newsletter, position papers)
• Support to “Embedding SSH” in all of Horizon 2020 through the NET4SOCIETY³ “Policy Brief on Interdisciplinarity”, the “SSH opportunities” document, and a workshop with the European Commission on this topic
• Thematic brokerage event for SSH researchers to support consortium building
• Improved Research Directory for SSH key players and SSH-specific partner search service
• Improved visibility of SC 6/ SSH NCPs and the NET4SOCIETY³ services through targeted promotion instruments, also outside of Europe
• Better visibility of SSH funding opportunities outside of FP7 Theme 8 “Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities” or Societal Challenge 6 “Inclusive, innovative, and reflective societies”
• Better understanding of EU-13 (new member states) participation in European Framework Programmes in the area of SSH and of their needs
• Improved communication between SC 6/ SSH NCPs and the European Commission

The project was organised under four work packages:
Table 1: NET4SOCIETY³ Work packages, tasks and responsibilities
WP1 Project Management 1. DLR (DE)
Task 1.1 Management 1. DLR (DE)
Task 1.2 Quality Management 4. APRE (IT)
WP2 Knowledge Transfer and NCP support 2. ISERD (IL)
Task 2.1 Workshops 1. DLR (DE)*
Task 2.2 Trainings 2. ISERD (IL)
Task 2.3 Virtual Helpdesk 11. EKT/NHRF (EL)
WP3 Strategy and Outreach 3. Euresearch (CH), 4. APRE (IT)
Task 3.1 Increasing SSH visibility 4. APRE (IT)
Task 3.2 Opportunities in Horizon 2020 1. DLR (DE)
Task 3.3 EU 12 and ICPC 13. SPIE (LV)
Task 3.4 Research Directory and Partner Search 3. Euresearch (CH)
WP4 Events and Promotion 5. IRC (IE)
Task 4.1 Events 11. EKT/NHRF (EL)
Task 4.2 Promotion 2. ISERD (IL)
Task 4.3 Website 1. DLR (DE)
* DLR took over the responsibility for this task from TUBITAK (TR) in June 2013.

3.1. Work Package 1 “Project Management”
Task 1.1 Management
Within Task 1.1 the overall coordination of the NCP network took place, i.e. the overall legal, financial and administrative management of NET4SOCIETY³ and management of the work to be performed. In the feedback surveys on the progress of the project, the coordination and management of the project always received a very positive evaluation. In the survey on the second project year, 43% rated the project management as “excellent” and further 44% as “good”.

The German Coordinator DLR closely collaborated with the Quality Manager (APRE, Italy) as well as the Work Package and Task leaders, and was in regular contact with all partners. The central decision-making body of the network was the Project Management Board (PMB), which consisted of all Work Package leaders and the Coordinator. To ensure smooth communication within the project, regular bi-monthly phone conferences of the PMB took place in between the actual physical meetings of the PMB.

On the one hand, NET4SOCIETY³ started as an already established network and was able to build further on this. On the other hand, due to continuous personnel changes within the network, the integration of all members always remained an important task for the management of the project.

A further important aspect of the coordination was the representation of the project to the outside world. In this area, NET4SOCIETY³ successfully consolidated its position as a serious body of consultation in the world of SSH and Societal Challenge 6. The network’s contacts to further SSH stakeholders were extended. With the establishment of the NET4SOCIETY³ Advisory Board, the network strengthened its contacts e.g. to Science Europe or the FP7 SSH Advisory Group. The cooperation with the EU Commission was very fruitful, e.g. resulting in the joint organisation of a workshop on “Embedding SSH”.

NET4SOCIETY³ members
While the NET4SOCIETY³ project had 21 beneficiaries (see Table 2), the network itself and its services were open to all SC 6/ SSH NCPs. NET4SOCIETY³ successfully integrated NCPs from 49 countries, who were actively involved in the project through participation in NET4SOCIETY³ events, in the knowledge exchange or in the dissemination of NET4SOCIETY³ activities. Among them were 13 NCPs from Third Countries. The total number of active NCPs was even higher – more than 80 – since for a number of countries more than one person or even more than one organisation has been involved in the network.

Table 2: NET4SOCIETY³ Partner Countries
21 beneficiaries Further network members from 28 countries
Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Romania, Republic of Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan

There has been a high fluctuation of network members, because NCP systems were restructured in many countries with the launch of Horizon 2020. Since the start of the new Framework Programme, NET4SOCIETY³ welcomed around 30 new network members – more than one third of the total network. New network members were welcomed and integrated into the network by defined procedures.

Thus network members had a very heterogeneous background in terms of experiences. This was also the case due to the fact, that the structure of national NCP systems varies considerably from country to country. There are highly centralised but also 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.

Integrating the numerous new and old members with differing backgrounds was therefore a major challenge for the project.

Table 3: NET4SOCIETY³ Beneficiaries
Participant no. Participant organisation name Country
1 Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR) Germany (DE)
2 MATIMOP, Israeli Industry Center for Research and Development (ISERD) Israel (IL)
3 Verein Euresearch (Euresearch) Switzerland (CH)
4 Agenzia per la Promozione della Ricerca Europea (APRE) Italy (IT)
5 An tÚdarás um Ard-Oideachas - Higher Education Authority (IRC) Ireland (IE)
6 Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft mbH (FFG) Austria (AT)
7 Belarusian State University (BSU) Belarus (BY)
8 Sdruzhenie Asociaciya Ikonomikai Demokraciya (AED) Bulgaria (BG)
9 Research Promotion Foundation (RPF) Cyprus (CY)
10 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) France (FR)
11 Ethniko Idryma Erevnon (EKT/NHRF) Greece (EL)
12 The Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNIS) Iceland (IS)
13 Starptautiska Lietiskas Optikas Biedriba (SPIE) Latvia (LV)
14* Office of the Prime Minister (MCST) Malta (MT)
15 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) Mexico (MX)
16 Norges forskningsråd (RCN) Norway (NO)
17 Instytut Podstawowych Problemów Techniki Polskiej Akademii Nauk (IPPT-PAN) Poland (PL)
18 Fundacao Para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia (FCT) Portugal (PT)
19 Government Institution Centre for Science Research and Statistics (CSRS) Russia (RU)
20 Turkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Arastirma Kurumu (TUBITAK) Turkey (TR)
21** National Sun Yat-Sen University (NSYSU) Taiwan (TW)
22 Ministry for Education and Employment (Malta Council) Malta (MT)
* On 14.3.2013 the portfolio of the Malta Council for Science and Technology has been transferred from the responsibility of the Office of the Prime Minister to that of Ministry of Education and Em-ployment, accordingly beneficiary “22. Malta Council - Ministry for Education and Employment” (Malta) took over from beneficiary “14. MCST - Office of the Prime Minister” (Malta).
** On 31.12.2013 the beneficiary “21. NSYSU” withdrew from the project.

Task 1.2 Quality Management
The NET4SOCIETY³ quality management ensured lean and efficient management procedures and high quality deliverables, events and services. In this way, it contributed to the high satisfaction of all network members. Through the establishment of regular feedback mechanisms, the project could adapt to the needs of the network members.

Quality management within NET4SOCIETY³ refers to how the Quality Manager works in tandem with all involved partners in making sure that every single group in the project produces high quality outputs. Thereby it is ensured that all the activities needed to design, create, develop and implement the deliverables and processes meet the defined standards which have been agreed between the partners.

The main purpose of the quality management is to facilitate efficient project implementation and achieve useful outcomes. An elaborated quality management plan was developed that included quality criteria and support instruments such as templates and checklists.

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 NET4SOCIETY³ workshops, trainings and the large event 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 (96% in the project assessment for the second year, Fig. 2).

The services and products produced by NET4SOCIETY³ received very positive feedback from the NCPs as well. Particularly popular was the “SSH Opportunities document” (100% positive: 72% “excellent”, 28% “good”) and the report on “SSH integration in Horizon 2020” (100% positive: 67% “excellent”, 33% “good”).
The NET4SOCIETY³ workshops received high ratings as well. The final project workshop in Sofia was evaluated positively by 100% of the survey participants (64% “excellent”, 36% “good”).

3.2. WP2 Knowledge Transfer and NCP support
Task 2.1 Workshops
NET4SOCIETY³ workshops served as the project-internal meetings of the whole network and as an important instrument for knowledge sharing. The workshops were aimed to facilitate the networking between all SC 6/ SSH NCPs to ensure a strong network and information flow of a high quality between NCPs and the European Commission and other SSH key stakeholders. They addressed both experienced and new NCPs. All SC 6/ SSH NCPs, whether beneficiary or not, were invited to participate in the project workshops. Due to the high fluctuation of NCPs in particular during the transition from FP7 to Horizon 2020, the workshops served as the most important instrument to integrate new NCPs into the network.

NET4SOCIETY³ organised three workshops during the lifetime of the project: in Lisbon (April 2013), Brussels (January 2014) and Sofia (September 2014). The workshops combined input from invited experts on current Societal Challenge 6 / SSH issues such as latest developments in Horizon 2020, or impact of SSH research, with sessions focusing on knowledge exchange between NCPs and concrete project activities of NET4SOCIETY³. The network also harnessed the workshops to get in contact with representatives of the local research communities in Portugal and Belgium to learn about their experiences with European Framework Programmes.

The workshops combined different approaches of knowledge transfer and group work including innovative and interactive methods to involve all participants in the discussions. 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.

Task 2.2 Trainings
The training activities in NET4SOCIETY³ served the important goal of capacity building for SC 6/ SSH NCPs and of increasing the overall quality of NCP services in all participating countries. This goal was achieved through the transfer and exchange of knowledge, good practices and experiences with the help of highly qualified trainers and speakers.

During the course of the project, two NET4SOCIETY³ trainings were held. As the new Framework Programme Horizon 2020 resulted in training needs for everyone in the network, all Societal Challenge 6 NCPs were invited to participate. This open approach was highly appreciated by the network members.

The first training (January 2014, Brussels) focused on “Impact of SSH research” and involved European policy makers as users of SSH research, who shared their perspectives and needs with regard to the exploitation of SSH research results.

The second training (September 2014, Sofia) addressed the challenges in the area of interdisciplinary research that Horizon 2020 poses. NCPs learned how to facilitate the cooperation of researchers from different backgrounds and how to better advise their clients. This training was given by a sub-contracted training and communication expert.

In the context of quality management, NET4SOCIETY³ collected the feedback of the participants after all trainings. The trainings were very appreciated by the trainees, receiving high ratings of positive feedback.

Task 2.3 Virtual Helpdesk
To facilitate knowledge exchange between SC 6/ SSH NCPs and provide further capacity building for less experienced NCPs, an online Virtual Helpdesk (VHD) was further developed. The VHD was accessible through the internal NET4SOCIETY³ website via the link

The VHD offered the opportunity to pose questions, which were then answered by a group of experienced SC 6/ SSH NCPs. Frequently asked questions were compiled in a “knowledge base” of the VHD.

As the VHD saw little usage, alternative ways of exchanging knowledge among the NCPs were developed. A Google Group for SC 6/ SSH NCPs was set up and widely promoted among the network. At the same time, the project internal mailing list was frequently used to pose and answer questions. The results of the inquiries were all fed into the “knowledge base” of frequently asked questions in the VHD.

3.3. WP3 Strategy and Outreach
Task 3.1 Increasing SSH visibility
The objectives of the task were to make stakeholders aware of the relevance of SSH and to increase their visibility in European Framework Programmes. To achieve this goal, the task published different documents and papers, and aimed at strengthening the communication and cooperation with key SSH organisations and projects in Europe.

A major output was the NET4SOCIETY³ Policy Brief on interdisciplinary research design with a focus on SSH research. This publication presented recommendations for policy makers, research programme managers and researchers.

NET4SOCIETY³ also published a position paper on the state of SSH in European Framework Programmes in response to a public consultation on “Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities” (June 2013).

Both, the Policy Brief and the position paper were widely distributed by the network.

A further instrument to increase the visibility of European SSH research was NET4SOCIETY³’s bi-annual newsletter “ISSUES – The voice of SSH in Europe”. ISSUES was mainly addressed to a wide range of policy makers, research managers and similar stakeholders.

Through the establishment of an Advisory Board, NET4SOCIETY³ involved key players and experts in its outreach activities and liaised with important SSH organisations. Many contacts to European level SSH organisations were established through the project’s involvement in the activities of the European Alliance for the Social Sciences and Humanities (EASSH).

Table 4: NET4SOCIETY³ Advisory Board members
Advisory Board Member Organisation
Andrea Hoeglinger FFG
Eva Hoogland Science Europe
Wolfgang Mackiewicz Chair of the SSH Advisory Group in FP7
Alice Dijkstra HERA, NWO
Rüdiger Klein EASSH
Milena Žic Fuchs European Science Foundation

Task 3.2 Opportunities in Horizon 2020
This task informed SSH researchers and SC 6/ SSH NCPs about the multiple funding opportunities for Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities in Horizon 2020 and the further European context. At the same time, the task analysed the integration of SSH aspects in all programme parts of Horizon 2020 and implemented activities to support this integration.

A major output of this task was a report on the integration of SSH in Horizon 2020, published in May 2014. The report came to the conclusion that while there are significant funding opportunities in Horizon 2020 for SSH outside of Societal Challenge 6, there are different approaches in the individual parts of Horizon 2020 with regard to the integration of SSH and the phrasing of SSH relevant topics. All in all, the integration of SSH still left room for improvement. A list of recommendations was compiled to support a better integration of SSH in Horizon 2020 in future Horizon 2020 calls.

On an annual basis, the task produced the highly popular document “Opportunities for Researchers from the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities”. This report provided SSH researchers with an overview of funding opportunities in all areas of Horizon 2020. It received a very positive feedback from the research community and was downloaded more than 4,000 times from the NET4SOCIETY website.

To showcase the many opportunities for SSH researchers within European research funding, NET4SOCIETY³ regularly published SSH-relevant calls of ERA-Initiatives such as ERA-Nets or Joint Programming Initiatives on its website.

In January 2015, NET4SOCIETY³ organised a “Workshop on Embedding Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Horizon 2020” in cooperation with the European Commission. The goal of this successful event was to support the better integration of SSH in Horizon 2020. For the same purpose, the network provided the EC with suggestions for topics in the 2016/17 Work Programmes that embed SSH in Societal Challenges or other parts of Horizon 2020 – outside of Societal Challenge 6.

Further outputs of the task included a report on SSH research infrastructures and their linkages to Horizon 2020 areas which helped to raise awareness among NCPs and researchers on funding possibilities.

Task 3.3 EU12 and ICPC
Within this task, NET4SOCIETY³ specifically supported NCPs and SSH researchers from new EU member states. The task analysed in depth the particular situations in these countries with regard to participation in European Framework Programmes. Based on literature review and an extensive online survey as well as interviews, a report with a number of recommendations was published.

As outlined in this report, the success rates between applicants from old and new EU member states differ, in particular with regard to coordinators.

The low success rates, the lack of funding for proposal writing and insufficient research networks are perceived as the main obstacles to participation in the Framework Programmes for applicants from new member states.

The most important factors to address on the level of researchers and NCP interaction is widening the networks of research contacts and explaining the rules of application and project selection. National policy-makers, on their part, could greatly help national researchers by introducing more competitive national funding with special institutional support for drafting research proposals.

Task 3.4 Research Directory and Partner Search
NET4SOCIETY³ supported SSH researchers and other potential applicants for Societal Challenge 6 to network and form European and international collaborations through an online research directory and an online partner search support service.

The Research Directory is an online directory of actively involved SSH researchers and key players in the context of European Framework Programmes. The directory aims at facilitating 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 .

The Research Directory was created and implemented in earlier NET4SOCIETY projects. NET4SOCIETY³ maintained this task and developed it further.

During the running time of NET4SOCIETY³, the number of published profiles increased from 694 to more than 1,000 profiles from more than 60 countries – among them countries outside of Europe such as Argentinia, Brazil, China, Russia, South Africa, India or Indonesia.

Specific efforts were put into the quality check of the submitted profiles, increasing the number of published profiles and promoting the service to the SSH community. Guidelines on the quality check of profiles were distributed to all SC6 /SSH NCPs and regularly updated.

A report with an elaborated strategy for promoting the Research Directory further was developed during the project. At the same time technical modifications of the directory were implemented to update it for the new Framework Programme Horizon 2020.

Complimentary to the Research Directory, the NET4SOCIETY³ partner search service supported applicants to easily find research partners for submitting proposals in Societal Challenge 6 of Horizon 2020. This service provided a single entry point for partner searches for SC6 topics and a quality check of these searches.

The online partner search service was in use between the publications of calls of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme for 2014/15 and the call deadlines.

It was a popular tool: all in all more than 120 profiles were published for the calls and the service was one of the most frequently visited pages of the NET4SOCIETY website. Potential applicants were able to 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 relevance to the topic.

To ensure a smooth running of quality check procedures, guidelines for all SC6/ SSH NCPs were regularly updated and distributed to the network.

3.4. WP4 Events and Promotion
Task 4.1 Events
The organisation of a strategic, large scale international conference to increase SSH visibility and to support researchers’ participation in Horizon 2020’s Societal Challenge 6 was a major activity of NET4SOCIETY³.

The NET4SOCIETY³ conference “Achieving Impact – Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Horizon 2020” ( ) took place in Athens on 26 and 27 February 2014. It was designed as a “launching event” for SSH in the new Framework Programme Horizon 2020 and linked to the Greek Presidency of the EU Council.

The two-day scientific conference was aimed at the international SSH research community, but also at users of the research results and research managers and policy makers. It demonstrated and discussed the societal impact of SSH research. Additionally, the event showcased the funding opportunities that exist in Horizon 2020, which will enable the SSH research community to play an important role in addressing the Europe 2020 targets. The conference also included a brokerage event, which promoted and encouraged engagement with the Horizon 2020 research programmes and offered participants the opportunity to network with potential partners.

All in all, 25 speakers presented at the conference, in several plenary and six parallel sessions, focusing on “Creativity and Culture”, “The European Social Model” and “Making sense of social innovation”. The second day was mainly dedicated to the discussion of the 2014/2015 Societal Challenge 6 Work Programme and brokerage event.

There was a very high interest in the conference – in the end over 350 researchers, funders, administrators and policymakers from around Europe attended the event. The event was web-streamed in order to allow for a wide dissemination of the discussion. After the conference, videos of the different talks were published on the conference website.

The evaluation of a feedback survey revealed that the conference received a positive feedback for the topic and content as well as the competence of the speakers. A conference report was published in May 2014. It summarised the most important discussion points and was distributed widely.

Task 4.2 Promotion
The NET4SOCIETY³ activities and services for the benefit of the research community in SSH and Societal Challenge 6 were promoted from the onset of the project. Each NET4SOCIETY³ network member was actively engaged in dissemination. The professional promotional instruments developed in past NET4SOCIETY projects since 2008 were further enhanced.

The network and its services were promoted at a large number of events at national, European and international level. A number of different promotion instruments and material were applied such as project leaflets, posters, a roll-up or a standard presentation. An e-newsletter on NET4SOCIETY³ and news connected to SSH and Societal Challenge 6 were distributed widely via all NCPs. A specific focus was put on promoting the large-scale event in Athens.

The use of social media for promotion purposes was increased in NET4SOCIETY³, mainly through the NET4SOCIETY Facebook and LinkedIn Accounts. An initial survey on the habits and preferences of the NCPs with regard to social media provided information on which social media channels would be the most efficient instruments for the project.

To improve the promotion activities of the project further, two surveys among the network members on the use of promotional instruments were carried out. The results demonstrated that all in all, the project already achieved impressive success as to creating a portfolio of useful promotional materials. In addition, some suggestions for further improvements were provided.

More details on dissemination activities are included in chapter 4 of this report.

Task 4.3 Website
The NET4SOCIETY³ website 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 project. The website supported the efficient and quick flow of information for both SC6/ SSH NCPs' daily work and promotion of the project’s activities.

It supplied relevant news and information related to SC6 and SSH research funding, and presented those project services and activities that had an external focus, such as the partner search service and the link to the Research Directory.

The internal part of the website reserved for SC6/ SSH NCPs served as a workspace for the project and a storage place for internal documents.

The external website had around 2,000 visits per month. The three most frequently visited pages were the starting page, the Partner Search page and the page on the “SSH Opportunities document”.

The highest download results were achieved by the document “Opportunities for SSH researchers”, which was downloaded more than 4,000 times.

Table 5: NET4SOCIETY³ Website clicks - Highest visits per sub-page, Feb. 2013 – Jan. 2015:
Sub-page Page visits (including multiple visits) Unique page visits
Starting page 61,168 77,744
Partner Search Support 11894 8822
SSH Opportunities 6753 6353

Potential Impact:
Potential impact
Socio-economic sciences and the Humanities research provide essential knowledge for understanding the world we live in – in terms of politics, economy and culture. SSH helps to understand the shaping of identities and human diversity and to hold communities together. Insights from SSH research influence policy and legislation actions.

NET4SOCIETY³’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 project first targeted research in Theme 8 “Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities” of FP7, then in Societal Challenge 6 “Europe in a changing world: Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies” in Horizon 2020.

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

• Increased visibility of European SSH research and funding opportunities
• Increased involvement of relevant SSH communities, stakeholders and practitioners in European Framework Programmes
• Improvement of quality of SC6 / SSH NCP services and strengthening of cooperation among NCPs

Increased visibility of European SSH research and funding opportunities

NET4SOCIETY³ informed policy makers and stakeholders at national and European level on the strategic role and vital contribution of SSH research with regard to the Europe 2020 strategy and the further development of the ERA. The project emphasised the need to include strong SSH dimensions in Horizon 2020.

A major instrument to deliver these messages was the biannual newsletter “ISSUES – The voice of SSH in Europe”. The mailing list of ISSUES was widely expanded and now reaches around 3,000 research policy makers and other stakeholders directly. Additionally, it is further disseminated through NCPs on a national level.

The NET4SOCIETY³ Policy Brief on interdisciplinary research design was another tool to promote the visibility of SSH research. It included a number of recommendations for research policy makers, research programme designers and researchers themselves and formed an important contribution to the discussion on how to integrate SSH in Horizon 2020.

NET4SOCIETY³ also gave input to a public consultation on the state of SSH research in Europe launched in the context of the conference “Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities” (September 2013, Vilnius). The consultation input was widely distributed at the conference and through online means.

The visibility of SSH and the integration of SSH in Horizon 2020 was further promoted through the organisation of a workshop on “Embedding SSH in Horizon 2020”. The workshop targeted the important actors and multipliers for this issue: European commission staff and NCPs responsible for the different programme parts of Horizon 2020. Through the workshop, awareness on this issue was raised and first steps of further cooperation were initiated.

In addition to the above mentioned activities, NET4SOCIETY³ increased the visibility of SSH funding opportunities throughout Horizon 2020. User statistics of the website suggest that the NET4SOCIETY³ “Opportunities for SSH researchers” document was one of the most popular services of NET4SOCIETY³. It also received the attention of and positive feedback from the European Commission. Funding possibilities for SSH researchers in ERA-Initiatives such as ERA-Nets or Joint Programming Initiatives were also widely disseminated via the website and the network of NCPs. A report on SSH research infrastructures in FP7 and Horizon 2020 served as a further instrument to raise awareness of further funding opportunities among NCPs and researchers.

Increased involvement of relevant SSH communities, stakeholders and practitioners in European Framework Programmes

NET4SOCIETY³ supported the increased involvement of SSH research communities, stakeholders and practitioners in FP7 and Horizon 2020 through a number of instruments:

The NET4SOCIETY³ large-scale conference “Achieving impact – Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Horizon 2020” on 26 and 27 February 2014 in Athens encouraged participants to take part in Horizon 2020. It highlighted funding opportunities, presented good practice project examples and provided a brokerage session for targeted consortium building. The conference received high interest – more than 350 researchers, research funders and other stakeholders attended the event.

Further instruments to facilitate consortium building and thereby participation in European Framework Programmes were the NET4SOCIETY SSH Research Directory and the Partner Search service. The Research Directory supported the identification of SSH key players in European funding programmes, while the Partner Search service disseminated profiles of applicants in open calls.

The NET4SOCIETY³ e-newsletter informed researchers and further stakeholders about Horizon 2020 with a specific focus on SSH and Societal Challenge 6 – for example about open calls or issues connected to the application process. It encouraged the participation of Third Country researchers in Horizon 2020 by featuring interviews with researchers from outside of Europe, who are already active in European Framework Programmes.

Particular efforts were made to increase the involvement of SSH research communities from new EU member states (EU-13). An extensive, analytic report of their participation in FP7 was produced. A number of recommendations concerning measures for closing the participation gap resulted from this analysis. The recommendations were spread among the European Commission, national policy makers and NCPs.

NET4SOCIETY³ 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. Cooperation with representatives of the research community (like research organisations) and further stakeholders took place in different contexts. Through its Advisory Board, NET4SOCIETY³ cooperated for example with Science Europe, the European Science Foundation or the HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) project. Mutual exchange and collaboration were also achieved with the MIRRIS and the INTERCO-SSH projects, which dealt with reforms in the R&I systems of new EU member states and international cooperation in SSH respectively. Together with other SSH organisations in Europe, NET4SOCIETY³ pursued as a core member the further establishment of the European SSH umbrella organisation “European Alliance for the Social Sciences and Humanities” (EASSH).

The following table gives an overview of the most important actors that NET4SOCIETY³ was able to reach and cooperate with. Many of the listed organisations are European level and thus function as multipliers to a larger community.

Table 6: Overview of NET4SOCIETY³ networking contacts (selection)
Organisation/ Actor Type of cooperation or contact
ACADEURO - Academia Europaea EASSH
AcSS - Academy of Social Sciences EASSH
AE - Academia Europaea EASSH
AEC - Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique EASSH
AISEA - Italian Association of Ethno-Anthropological Sciences EASSH
ANUAC - National Academic Association of Cultural Anthropologists EASSH
CEL/ELC - Conseil Européen des Langues EASSH
CLARIN - Research Infrastructure EASSH
CNRS - Alliance Athena (FR) EASSH
COEURE - Cooperation on European Research in Economics EASSH
EACS - European Association for Chinese Studies EASSH
EADH - European Association of Digital Humanities EASSH
EADI - European Association of Development Research EASSH
EARA - European Association for research on Adolescence EASSH
EARMA - European Association of Research Managers and Administrators Presentation at conference
EASA - European Association of Social Anthropologists EASSH
EASR - European Association for the Study of Religion EASSH
EAUH - European Association of Urban History EASSH
ECHIC - European Consortium of Humanities Institutes and Centres EASSH
ECPSA - European Confederation of Political Science Associations EASSH
ECREA - European Communication Research and Education Association EASSH
EEA - European Economic Association EASSH
EERA - European Educational Research Organisation EASSH
EGPA - European Group for Public Administration EASSH
ELC - European Language Council EASSH
ENIUGH - European Network in Global and Universal History EASSH
ERSA - European Regional Science Association EASSH
ESA - European Sociological Association EASSH
EUROCLIO - European Association of History Educators EASSH
EUROPAEUM - Consortium of leading European Universities in SSH EASSH
EuroSEAS - European Association for Southeast Asian Studies EASSH
ESC - European Society of Criminology EASSH
ESCLH - European Society for Comparative Legal History EASSH
ESCoP - European Society of Cognitive Psychology EASSH
ESEH - European Society for Environmental History EASSH
ESF - European Committee on the Humanities of the European Science Foundation Advisory Board, EASSH
ESHS - European Society for the History of Science EASSH
ESS - European Social Survey (Research Infrastructure) EASSH
DARIAH - European Infrastructure EASSH
DGIA - Max Weber Stiftung (DE) EASSH
FIEC - Fédération internationale des associations d‘études classiques EASSH
FTCP - Foundation for transatlantic Culture and Politics EASSH
FU Berlin - Liaison Office Brussels (Freie Universität Berlin) EASSH
HDCA - Human Development and Capability Association EASSH
HERA - ERA-Net Advisory Board, EASSH
IHA - Irish Humanities Alliance EASSH
IIAS - International Institute for Asian Studies EASSH
INTERCO-SSH - International Cooperation in the SSH Networking Task, EASSH
ISSP - Irish Social Science Platform EASSH
JPI Culture - JPI Cultural Heritage and Global Change EASSH
LERU - League of European Research Universities Athens Event
MedioEvo - MedioEvo Europeo EASSH
MIN - Ministère de la Recherche (FR) EASSH
NetIAS - Network of Institutes of Advanced Studies EASSH
RCC - Rachel Carson Center Munich EASSH
REELC - Réseau européen d’études littéraires comparées EASSH
RFIEA - Réseay Français des Instituts d’études avancées EASSH
RISE - Raising the Impact of the Socio-Economic Sciences EASSH
RT - Responsible technology SAS EASSH
Europe Advisory Board, EASSH
SHARE - European research infrastructure Athens Event
SLE - Societas Linguistica Europaea EASSH

Improvement of quality of SC6 / SSH NCP services and strengthening of cooperation among NCPs

Through its various measures for capacity building, knowledge transfer and exchange of good practices (e.g. workshops, trainings, VHD), NET4SOCIETY³ had a direct impact on the overall quality of SC6/ 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 been beyond the capacities of individual NCPs.

The impact in this area was particularly relevant, since a high number of newcomer NCPs joined the project during the transitional period from FP7 to Horizon 2020. At the same time, all NCPs had significant needs for capacity building for the same reason – the start of Horizon 2020. NET4SOCIETY³ addressed the new challenges for the NCPs (e.g. ICT components of SC6, embedding of SSH) in its capacity building instruments.

All SC6/ SSH NCPs (100%) rated the benefit of NET4SOCIETY³ for themselves as excellent (72%) or good (28%).

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 Social Science and Humanities research.

Main dissemination activities
NET4SOCIETY³ disseminated its activities and services widely to different target groups, such as SC6/ SSH NCPs, researchers from SSH and other SC6-relevant areas, research managers, research policy makers and other SSH stakeholders.

Main instruments for dissemination were the project website and the NCPs' websites, newsletters, social media (Facebook and LinkedIn), press releases, as well as the EC and the CORDIS website.

The SC6/ SSH NCPs acted as multipliers and forwarded NET4SOCIETY³ information to their national research communities and stakeholders. This network of SC6/ SSH NCPs from around 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.

With regard to the target group of SC6/ SSH NCPs, NET4SOCIETY³ disseminated best practice mainly through a project-internal mailing list and the internal website, trainings, thematic workshops, the Virtual Helpdesk and the project e-newsletter.

SSH researchers were informed through the NET4SOCIETY³ 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 NET4SOCIETY³ large event in Athens was distributed through press releases, newsletter items, and websites. The CORDIS news system was another regularly used information tool for disseminating NET4SOCIETY³ information.

Information to the target group of research managers and research policy makers was distributed through the ISSUES newsletter with more than 3000 direct recipients (and further recipients through the multiplying effect of NCPs) as well as the website.

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

Table 7: NET4SOCIETY³ participation in international events (examples)
NET4SOCIETY³ participation: international events – examples:
EARMA (European Association of Research Managers and Administrators) conference, Vienna, 4 July 2013
NET4SOCIETY³ partner participated as an expert
Workshop “Making Innovation Social”, Uppsala, 11 September 2013
NET4SOCIETY³ coordinator participated as an expert
Conference “Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities”, Vilnius, 23-24 September 2013
NET4SOCIETY³ information stand
EC DG Connect Workshop on Interdisciplinarity, Brussels, 12 September 2014
NET4SOCIETY³ coordinator participated as an expert
EC Embedding Workshop, Brussels, 27 November 2014
NET4SOCIETY³ coordinator participated as an expert
EASSH meetings– Brussels, 18 December 2013, Berlin, 8-9 May 2014, Paris, 16 January 2015
NET4SOCIETY³ coordinator participated as core group member

List of Websites:
Project public website:

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
NET4SOCIETY³ Coordinator
"Trans-national cooperation among National Contact Points for Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities (SSH NCPs)"

Heinrich-Konen-Str. 1
53227 Bonn

Phone: +49 228 3821- 1641
Fax: +49 228 3821- 1331