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National Contact Points for quality standards and horizontal issues

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NCP ACADEMY (National Contact Points for quality standards and horizontal issues)

Reporting period: 2016-06-10 to 2018-06-09

National Contact Points (NCPs) play a key role in Horizon 2020 as providers of information and assistance to potential applicants and project beneficiaries. They constitute the main interface to the European R&D community for Member States and Associated Countries and the European Commission. While their activities are underpinned by the European Commission’s “Guiding principles for setting up systems of national contact points”, NCPs are appointed and financed at national level so that existing NCP systems show a wide variety of architectures and ways of working.

This project aims to create and implement a new and integrated training of Horizon 2020 advisors – the NCP Academy. It brings together NCP Coordinators and NCPs for Legal and Financial aspects of Horizon 2020 to develop the NCP Academy concept and to develop and implement training courses on cross-cutting issues. It addresses quality standards and good practice as well as routes to feedback and communication for this community. In doing so it aims to significantly enhance the performance of NCPs and does so by harnessing the knowledge base already existing within this community.

The NCP Academy is responsive, addressing new issues that emerge during implementation of the Horizon 2020 programme and it is all-inclusive, providing training to all NCPs, and especially targeting new and/or less experienced NCPs. The consortium works closely with existing thematic NCP Networks, carefully serving their needs for cross-cutting aspects of Horizon 2020.

Expected impacts include achievement of an improved and professionalised NCP service across Europe, thereby helping simplify access to Horizon 2020 calls.
PERIOD 1:

The NCP Academy Concept has been developed to set the framework for the project and the training within the project. The concept is available on the NCP Academy webpage.

A Common train-the-NCP approach has been developed for on-site-training and webinars.

An Annual Training Calendar has been developed and is in use among partners.

A google group was established for all Legal and Financial NCPs. This has proved to be a huge success with a lot of daily activity and questions being answered rapidly by Legal and Financial NCP colleagues.

The following on-site training courses have been developed and implemented: legal and financial issues in Horizon 2020 (Copenhagen, November 2015); Synergies between Horizon 2020, European Structural and Investment Funds and other measures: (Brussels, October 2015); Cross-cutting issues such as gender, IPR, ethics, open access, standards (Lisbon, November 2015); Innovation concepts and EU Innovation Policy (webinar, May 2015). Information on other webinars, on-site-training covering more specialist topics and training modules provided to other NCP Networks and the European Commission can be obtained on our website.

A mapping survey of Key Performance Indicators has been completed initially among consortium members.

Five Meet & Exchange Workshops have been organised: Spotlight on Innovation Procurement in HORIZON 2020” (Vienna, May 2015); Personnel Costs in Horizon 2020 (Brussels, October 2015); Open Access (Brussels, March 2016); NCP Systems: Impact of NCP networks (Copenhagen, June 2016); Access to Risk Finance (Brussels, June 2016).

An NCP-specific input to the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 is currently being prepared in consultation with the NCP community.

PERIOD 2:

The NCP Academy training concept was revised based on the experience of the first period of the NCP Academy. The new version was shorter, more hands-on and more practically orientated.

The project has seen a total of 9 train-the-trainers in this reporting period.

An event manual was created to ensure high quality of trainings and to ease the burden of planning the training.

Seven Legal and Financial mentoring activities took place. A total of 120 Legal and Financial questions were answered through the Google group for Legal and Financial NCPs. The Legal and Financial database contains 505 individual Q&A entries.

Sixty three trainings were held from 9 June 2016 to 8 June 2018: 20 on-site trainings; 9 train-the-trainers (on-site, webinars, moderation); 8 requests from NCP networks and the European Commission; 26 webinars.

To examine Key Performance Indicators for NCP systems in Europe detailed information was compiled on NCP organisations and services (budget, number of employees, participation in NCP projects etc). The set of possible indicators that could be used on a voluntary basis by NCP systems was prepared and released as a public report.

Twelve Meet & Exchange Workshops were organised. The reports of the workshops are publicly available on the website of the NCP Academy and were pro-actively distributed among the wider NCP community, European Commission and further stakeholders to enable them to benefit from the findings. Several workshops developed recommendations for an improved implementation of Horizon 2020 valuable for the European Commission.

Three Task Forces completed their reviews on:
- Preparation of an NCP input paper for interim evaluation of Horizon 2020;
- Preparation of a report on the impact of NCP projects from the NCP perspective;
- Performance monitoring of Horizon 2020.
Their reports are publicly available on the NCP Academy website.

The coordinator, with the Work Package leaders, presented updates from the NCP Academy consortium to the European Commission meetings of NCP Coordinators, Legal & Financial NCPs and Coordinators of NCP Network at regular intervals.

The NCP Academy team liaised with the coordinators and teams of the thematic NCP Networks, contributing to the shared scheduling of events and activities.
The NCP Academy has continued to impact on NCP services across Europe:

- The NCP Academy service is now recognised by the NCP community;
- Demand has grown from the thematic NCP Networks to provide cross-cutting training modules;
- The NCP Academy continues to respond to opportunities to work closely with the European Commission.