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Improving and professionalizing the Health NCP service across Europe.

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - HNN 2.0 (Improving and professionalizing the Health NCP service across Europe.)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2019-11-30

Health NCP Net 2.0 aims at improving and professionalizing the NCP service, thus achieving a more consistent level of NCP support services across Europe with the final goal to better support applicants and raise the average quality of proposals submitted.

HNN 2.0 builds upon the experience and results of the previous Health NCP Net project with the objective of responding to the new challenges that the “Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing” NCPs face in the new programme Horizon 2020, such as the broadened thematic scope of the Societal Challenge 1, and the enlarged mandate of the “Health” NCPs. An objective of the HNN 2.0 project is to satisfy the needs and priorities of all different types of NCPs, notably newcomers, NCPs with fewer resources, NCPs from EU-13 and NCPs in Third Countries so as to face the challenge of the current heterogeneity of the network

The enlarged mandate of “Health” NCPs and the holistic focus of H2020 imply that NCPs need to create expert knowledge and look for it outside the SC1 Network by having a holistic approach and liaising and collaborating with other support structures, projects and programmes. HNN 2.0 will therefore have a real structured coordination with the other NCP and support networks such as Ideal-IST, EEN and Fit for Health 2.0 where collaboration for joint activities like training courses, meet and exchange workshops and brokerage events is established.

Main tools towards the objectives are:
- support and information materials
- comprehensive training programme
- mentoring programme (staff exchanges, mentoring programme for new NCPs, twinning with the European Commission)
- Meet and Exchange workshops with NCPs from other disciplines
- system of email alert for NCPs about research funding and related policies
- information and communication hub for SC1-NCPs (easy access to information and services , exchange of information and opinions between SC1-NCPs)
- International brokerage events
One of the main goals of an NCP is the support of applicants in Horizon 2020 SC1 proposals, especially through the transmission of valuable information they can benefit from. HNN2.0 has contributed to the enhancement and alignment the NCP services across Europe by providing all SC1 NCPs with easy access to all the information, training, materials and skills they need for delivering quality support for their clients in different areas.

One of the main materials developed are the five module SC1 NCP Handbook, created in a collaborative process by all project members, and additionally nine new templates.

The HNN 2.0 website (www.healthncp.net) constitutes an essential element of the project because it acts as a central repository of information developed by the HNN 2.0 partners, with restricted access for all the SC1 NCPs. A new platform for interaction between the SC1 NCPs, called the Forum, was created inside the intranet, offering the chance to directly discuss and exchange opinions and information between SC1 NCP colleagues.
With the objective to guarantee constant learning, capacity building and exchange of knowledge, 10 onsite Trainings, 19 Webinars, 10 Staff exchange programmes and 3 Personalized mentoring programme for new SC1 NCPs and 5 Meet and Exchange Workshops have taken pace during the action.

Also, HNN2.0 has created links between the HNN 2.0 project and the community of SC1 NCPs and experts of other Health-related programmes, and several actions have been undertaken with other major programmes and initiatives implementing SC1 and other NCP networks, support networks and projects, which has materialized in several joint collaborations.

In order to support formation of high quality consortia and widen participation in Health-related projects, seven Partnering Events have been organized during the action: 4 in Brussels, back to back to the EC Info day, and 3 Decentralized in Paris, Zagreb and Oslo.

For dissemination, complementary to the website, HNN2.0 has continued using notification emails to reach SC1 NCPs directly and has created a twitter account with 659 subscribers that has proven to be a popular and effective dissemination tool being widely used by the targeted community. HNN2.0 created several promotional materials and a video presenting the NCP services to the applicant’s community, which has been disseminated via multiple communication channels and participated in more than 20 events to promote the NCP services.

From the overall feedback received from SC1 NCPs collected through evaluation surveys of our activities, HNN 2.0 has efficiently contributed to support NCPs in their daily job and to enhance their services to their clients and has been “the platform” used by SC1 NCPs that facilitated exchange of knowledge and know-how and networking with peers.
i) Measures and impact at the level of the SC1 NCPs
The SC1 NCP Network can exist as such and be nurtured as a result of the SC1 NCP Net 2.0 project, which contributes to building NCP knowledge and expertise; and to facilitating access to professional collaboration with other NCPs. HNN 2.0 offers highly added value tools and services that single NCPs alone could not develop or implement by acting nationally, as these tools and services aim at helping aligning the NCP services, simplifying access to Horizon 2020 calls and lowering entry barriers to newcomers across Europe and beyond, by facilitating their start as NCPs and by integrating them into the Network. The NCP handbook and the templates offered very comprehensive guidelines to help both newcomers and more experienced NCPs understanding and being updated about the fundamentals of H2020. In our training courses and webinars we have also seek for various expertise of different actors to cover multidisciplinary aspects in SC1 proposals. Staff exchanges and personalized Mentoring Programmes have continued helping maintain NCP interactions in smaller groups allowing for exchanges about methodologies of working and building knowledge on the different Research and Innovation systems and structures in the countries.

The website of the project is the main dissemination tool by facilitating the access to information to all NCPs internationally as all materials, including presentations and recordings of the webinars, are stored in the restricted site for NCPs only and it is the main repository of all the material developed.

ii) Measures and impact at the level of the clients
In total, four brokerage events have been in Brussels and three decentralized in Paris, Zagreb and Oslo. The evaluation surveys show that these types of events are clearly helping (potential) applicants in finding collaborations in the short-medium terms. The last event in Brussels reached 292 participants from 31 different countries and arranged a total of 1,068 bilateral meetings. The increasing number of registrations and the fast oversubscription show evidence of the need and appreciation of the applicant community for such events. Also, some of our webinars have been opened not only to multipliers but also to the applicant community, when the topic is of direct interest.

iii) Measures and impact at the level of the EC
In total, seven experience papers have been drafted to the EC analyzing specific implementation issues of relevance as identified by the HNN2.0 consortium. The activity called EC Mentoring for NCPs, implemented via webinars constitutes an extremely well valued service by the NCPs.