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Integrating the associated candidate countries into the 6th Framework Programme through networking activities and improved NCP services

Final Report Summary - INTEGRATING-ACC (Integrating the Associated Candidate Countries into the 6th Framework Programme through networking activities and improved NCP services)

INTEGRATING-ACC project was a Specific Support Action (SSA) aimed to integrate the scientific community of the 10 New Member States (NMS) and three Associate Candidate Countries (ACCs) into the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). It focused in particular on the integration into the Integrated Projects (IPs), Specific Targeted Research projects (STREPs) and Networks of Excellence (NoEs) proposed to thematic priority six 'Sustainable development, global change and ecosystems' (SustDev) and mobilised the skills of SustDev National contact points (NCPs) from 22 countries.

NCPs promoted the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) within their countries and were familiar with the barriers to participation in this programme since they had direct access to the scientific communities and to a large number of networks (e.g. national research programmes, networks of liaison officers in universities, research organisations, other NCPs, Innovation relay centres (IRCs) etc.).

To address this issue three types of support activity were carried out:
- active promotion of the research capacity of the NMS and ACCs (e.g. NCPs were invited to information days in other countries);
- analysis and reinforcement of the networking approach. The networking activities of NCPs were reinforced both within the NCP network and with other networks of research players. The existing research networks in Europe were identified and their activities and practices analysed as was the cooperation between NCPs and networks.
- improvement of the NCP services to overcome the barriers to participation in the FP6. This was done by analysing NCP practices across Europe and establishing best practice guidelines.

The results of this SSA were applicable to all the NCPs of the thematic priorities and a comprehensive dissemination of the results was undertaken.

The INTEGRATING-ACC project had both immediate and medium to long- term impact on the integration of the NMS and ACCs into the FP6.

-The improvement of the capacity of the 25 NCPs to advertise the FP6 and promote the research capacity of the NMS and ACCs had an immediate impact.
- The survey of networks of Research and development (R&D) players across Europe led to a significant immediate increase in the cooperation between NCPs and networks which in turn led to an increase in the impact of the NCP activity. The benefits of cooperation with different networks had been analysed and were well understood. It could therefore be expected that in the medium term the extent with which NCPs cooperate with networks would continue to increase.
- The benchmarking exercise led to the sharing of knowledge on NCP practices and a better understanding of what made them effective. The results became available as the preparation for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) began and were of particular interest to the communities involved in establishing the NCP system for the FP7 both at a national level and at the European Commission (EC). They would certainly impact the quality of the NCP services being provided in the FP7.

It could be concluded that the INTEGRATING-ACC project had accomplished its objectives and had contributed to the integration of the NMS and ACCs into the FP6. It had also prepared the ground for their further integration into the FP7.