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Transnational network of National Contact Points (NCPs) of Societal Challenge 6 'Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective Societies' (SC6)

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - NET4SOCIETY4 (Transnational network of National Contact Points (NCPs) of Societal Challenge 6 'Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective Societies' (SC6))

Reporting period: 2018-02-01 to 2019-01-31

Within Horizon 2020 (H2020: the EU research and innovation funding programme) there are so-called National Contact Points (NCPs) – dedicated research consulting bureaus – which provide support and guidance in preparing proposals and project realisation. The EU funded project Net4Society4 is the international network of NCPs for Societal Challenge 6 (SC6), “Europe in a changing world: Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”.

The main goal of Net4Society4 is both to improve the quality of consulting and to support researchers in submitting successful proposals in this funding area as well as to increase the visibility of SSH research.

Net4Society4 further develops the network of SC6 NCPs (former NCPs for Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities) which was established in 2008, and currently has members from over 60 countries in Europe and around the world.

The overall objectives of Net4Society4 are:
• to enhance SC6 NCP services
• to support potential applicants in SC6 of H2020
• to facilitate the implementation of integration of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) throughout H2020
• to support the international dimension of H2020
• to promote the relevance and impact of research and innovation in SC6

To enhance SC6 NCP services, Net4Society4 aims to ensure that all SC6 NCPs have the relevant knowledge and skills for their work and can offer professional, high-quality and tailor-made services to their applicants on national level.
Net4Society4 carries out targeted activities to support applicants in SC6. The project facilitates interdisciplinary and international consortium building through the organisation of brokerage events and through dedicated online partner search tools. In addition, Net4Society4 organises expert meetings on different aspects of SC6 research and disseminates the results to NCPs and applicants.

To support the integration of SSH in all parts of H2020, Net4Society4 carries out a number of activitiesthe project regularly publishes a document listing SSH relevant funding opportunities in all of H2020. Based on surveys, interviews, and expert meetings, Net4Society4 also publishes factsheets on the integration of SSH in H2020, promoting good practices and hands-on advice for NCPs and applicants.

Net4Society4 promotes the international dimension of H2020 by offering services to Third Country NCPs in the project and by seeking close contact with international networks in the area of H2020.

Net4Society4 organised two large conferences in the thematic area of SC6 to provide visibility to the funding programme and the possibility to discuss future research needs with policy makers, researchers, NGOs, industries, SMEs, students, and the broader public. Various promotional activities enhancing the visibility of Net4Society4 services and the relevance and impact of SC6 in H2020 further underline these efforts.
The first highlight of Net4Society4 was the organisation of the international conference “Trust: European research co-creating resilient societies.”(29-30 October 2015; Brussels). The event combined a scientific conference with an Info day on the open calls for proposals in H2020’s SC6. The conference featured the EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, as a speaker and attracted around 400 participants.

In 2017, Net4Society4 organised the international conference “Democracy and Europe: A Common Future?”(30-31 October; Lisbon). The event brought together top researchers, members of civil societyand European politics for a discussion on the status of democracy and democratic institutions in Europe, with a focus on how social sciences and humanities research and research approaches offer solutions to the current issues surrounding democracy.

An additional highlight in 2017 was the event “SSH Research in the next Framework Programme (“FP9”)” organized in the European Parliament on 10 October in Brussels. The event was organized with the support of the Spanish MEP, Soledad Cabezón-Ruiz, and brought together policy makers and key stakeholders within the research and innovation sectors. The aim of the event was to facilitate a dialogue on the formulation of Horizon Europe, with specific focus on the design and suggestion of priorities.

To ensure a high quality of SC6 NCP’s work, Net4Society4 held several project meetings with a focus on exchanging experiences on specific topics, as well as targeted trainings and webinars for SC6 NCPs. During several expert colloquia, experts from different research areas-the areas which were addressed by the different calls for proposal in SC6-informed SC6 NCPs on the state of the art in their research fields. These expert colloquia, in combination with a meeting organized between SC6 NCPs, DG RTD Unit B.6 and the REA provided expert insight into the background of the calls for SC6 NCPs from those who had written them, providing an added value to the nature and quality of the consultation on H2020 calls NCPs could provide to their research communities.

The network organized three expert workshops on relevant topics such as impact and proposal evaluation and the results were disseminated in the form of factsheets for further distribution to all network members as well as through various dissemination channels directly to potential applicants.
Net4Society4 also organised five brokerage events that facilitated networking for potential applicants . Additionally, Net4Society4 supported the brokerage events of other NCP networks (in the areas of Health and Food Security, Agriculture and Bioeconomy). Further activities to support the networking of applicants included the repeated updating of the Partner Search Support Tool during open calls and the continued maintenance of the Net4Society Research Directory for SC6 key players.

The integration of SSH into other areas of H2020 was supported mainly through the publications of the “Opportunities for SSH researchers document” and various factsheets on the topic.

Net4Society4 also organised expert workshop on the integration of SSH in all parts of H2020, which showcased good practice examples. The project further supported the integration of SSH by intense networking with other NCP networks to raise awareness of the cross-cutting dimension of SSH and to plan concrete common activities such as brokerage events.
"Net4Society4’s activities had a strong impact on the quality of SC6 NCPs services. Project meetings and training activities received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants.

High quality NCP services and Net4Society activities that target applicants directly contribute to raising the overall quality of proposals in SC6.

The promotion of SSH funding opportunities throughout H2020 via the dedicated “Opportunities document” was very well received by NCPs and researchers. A positive effect on the quality of SSH integration in H2020 can therefore be expected.

Besides featuring the Commissioner, the conference ""Trust: European Research Co-creating Resilient Societies” also resulted in high visibility for SC6 research and the publication of the official EU policy report of the same name: “Trust: European Research CO-Creating Resilient Societies” (http://ec.europa.eu/research/social-sciences/pdf/other_pubs/ki-01-16-264-en.pdf).

Eventually, all Net4Society4 activities aim to support better research results that are relevant for European societies – thus creating a positive societal impact.

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Societal Challenge 6 Info Day organized by Net4Society in Brussels 2015
Net4Society SC6 NCP Training group picture, June 2017
Net4Society Kick Off meeting group picture in Reijkavik, May 2015
Commissioner Carlos Moedas at the Net4Society Trust Conference in Brussels 2015
Net4Society Trust Conference in Brussels, October 2015
Brokerage/ Match-making session in Brussels November 2017
Meeting with Dr.Ioannides, UNESCO Chair and ERA Chair holder on Digital and Cultural Heritage
Example of a Net4Society Societal Challenge 6 Information Stand, here in Bratislava Novvember 2016
Net4Society Democracy Conference in Lisbon, October 2017
Net4Society Democracy Conference in Lisbon, October 2017
Net4Society Final Network meeting in Limassol, January 2019
Net4Society Info Day, Brokerage and Proposal Check Event in Warsaw, November 2018