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Promoting and facilitating ERA-networking between European Contract Research Organisations (C.R.O.)

Final Report Summary - CRONET-DAYS (Promoting and facilitating ERA-networking between European Contract Research Organisations (C.R.O.))

CRONET-DAYS was a Specific Support Action (SSA) with a main goal to facilitate and enhance the meeting between the contract research organisations of European Research Area (ERA) in surface transport area (road, rail, waterborne, intermodality). It aimed at:
- enhancing the creation of Research and development (R&D) and innovation projects in ERA;
- initiating European partnerships (Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) Integrated Projects (IPs) and Network of Excellence (NoE), Eureka, bi- or tri-national projects);
- increasing technology transfer and synergies inter-Research and technology organisations (RTOs) (sharing and combining knowledge, know-how, software, hardware, facilities, human resources);
- networking on common R&D areas by enabling cross-fertilisation of ideas and capabilities between the different surface transport modes.

RTOs are major actors of technology R&D and innovation, but are too fragmented. Very few individual RTOs or companies can reasonably claim to respond to challenges in R&D sector due to increasing complexity and interdisciplinarity critical mass. For this purpose, support from the European Commission (EC) was needed to initiate the networking process, so to integrate RTOs efficiently in ERA.

Beneficial results were also expected to stimulate high tech and medium tech Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on specific niche technology through their participation in RTO network and partnership.

This overall objective was achieved by organising a two-days 'surface transport' RTO meeting in Nantes, on April 2005, including 20 general presentations (several large FP6 projects, five technology platforms), as well as one-to-one technical and business meetings (about 540 meetings).

The main achievements of the project were:
- establishment of a technical / scientifical organisation to design / specify and prepare the event, with six organisation meetings;
- a first pre-announcement of CRONET-DAYS issued and published on websites at the end of October 2004;
- speakers were identified and contacted: five technology platforms, plus 15 large European Union (EU) projects, plus representatives of EU Directorate-General (DG) Research and DG Transport and Energy (TREN), of Programme De Recherche et D' Innovation Dans Les Transports Terrestres PREDIT, of French Ministry of Research, etc.;
- CRONET-DAYS brochure was printed and mailed during the first two weeks of February 2005 (more than 1 000 invitations were sent);
- electronic documents (brochure, registration form, list of hotels) were available on the relative website (please see online);
- electronic documents were sent by e-mail (more than 3 000 invitations);
- active marketing and promotion of CRONET-DAYS by individual e-mails and by dedicated phone; in particular strong promotion towards New Member States (NMS) in EU RTOs of NMS had shown great interest in such an initiative and asked to be continuously informed about any future similar event;
- collecting participant's wishes and organising the scheduled one-to-one meetings;
- organising venue of the event in Ecole des Mines de Nantes (France);
- realisation of the event CRONET-DAYS in terms of contents (presentations of large projects in the mornings, and one-to-one meetings in the afternoons) as well as venue in Ecole des Mines de Nantes and official reception on 28 April 2005, with 108 participants;
- a CRONET-DAYS folder was provided to each participant: paper copies of morning presentations, posters, copy of registration forms, practical information;
- further to response to a post-event satisfaction questionnaire, the feedback from the participants appeared very positive;
- recommendations were formulated for future similar initiatives.