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

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Net4Society5 (National Contact Points (NCPs) Network of Societal Challenge 6 'Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective Societies' (SC6))

Reporting period: 2019-02-01 to 2021-12-31

Within Horizon 2020, so-called National Contact Points (NCPs) – dedicated research consulting bureaus –provided support and guidance in preparing proposals and project realisation. The EU-funded project Net4Society5 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 Net4Society5 (N4S5) is both to improve the quality of consulting and also to support researchers in submitting successful proposals in this funding area as well as to increase the visibility of SSH research.
Net4Society5 further developed the network of SC6 NCPs (former NCPs for Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities) that was initially established in 2008, and which currently has members from over 60 countries in Europe and around the world.
The overall objectives of Net4Society5 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, N4S5 aimed 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.
Net4Society5 carries carried out targeted activities to support applicants in SC6. During its runtime, the project facilitated interdisciplinary and international consortium building through the organisation of brokerage events, and through dedicated online partner search tools.
To support the integration of SSH in all parts of H2020, N4S5 carried out a number of activities. The project regularly published a document listing SSH relevant funding opportunities in all of H2020. Furthermore, factsheets on the integration of SSH in H2020, based on surveys, interviews, and expert meetings, were published, promoting good practices and hands-on advice how to engage in interdisciplinarity for NCPs and applicants.
N4S5 promoted the international dimension of H2020 by offering access to network services and tools to Third Country NCPs in the project, and by capitalizing on synergies with international networks in the area of H2020.
Activities executed during N4S5 generated results oriented toward NCPs and applicants in SC6, and in relation to SSH integration throughout the entire Framework Programme. For SC6 NCPs, main results included workshops which took place during meetings of network members, trainings, and other instances of exchange (e.g. NCP info sessions organised during office EC researcher Info Days). These meetings supported the project aim of ensuring a high quality of SC6 NCP work.
For example, N4S5 organised its kick-off meeting (together with the final workshop meeting of Net4Society4, NS5’s predecessor) at the end of January 2019 in Limassol, Cyprus. This meeting brought together the majority of network members, who were informed about the planned activities and objectives of the project. This meeting also included site-visits to successful projects in SC6, to provide tips and insights to NCPs as a way to help support the advice they give to their national research communities.
Another important meeting was the project’s final meeting in November 2020 (online). At this meeting, NCPs were informed about the status of the network’s completed activities. Besides the opportunity to learn of such developments, NCPs were also provided with a training of the online tool Miro, to help support their work during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
Another key result was the organization of a highly successful pre-proposal check event in conjunction with a brokerage event for researchers in Bratislava in 2019. This event allowed NCPs to participate in meetings scheduled between experienced evaluators of H2020 calls in the area of SC6 with potential applicants, as a form of NCP mentoring. Participating NCPs gained insights into the evaluation process, a valuable asset for their NCP work.
Applicants in SC6 were well-served by the brokerage events organised by the network. An online brokerage organised for topics opened for the Green Deal Call was an enormous success. This activity resulted in one of the highest attendance figures for a Net4Society-organised networking event, due to its online nature. By going online, the network was able to reach, and support a much higher number of participants than it would have been possible during on-site brokerage events. Many more interested parties were able to learn about the calls being open during an Info Session from the EC and N4S5 partners on open SSH research opportunities in other Programme areas, than a physical meeting could have supported. Attendees scheduled multiple meetings with potential consortium partners, both during and after the event, as the time for meetings could be extended due to Also directly in support of SSH applicants in H2020 was publication of the “Opportunities for Researchers from the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Horizon 2020” document, which highlighted open calls and opportunities for researchers from the SSH throughout H2020.
The pre-proposal check associated with the Bratislava event actively assisted applicants in SC6. Participants received direct advice from evaluators on weaknesses present within their proposals, and tips on how to improve. N4S5 made use of synergies with other networks and projects funded in the area of SC6. Net4Society5 worked together closely with the H2020-funded projects HubIT and SHAPE-ID, two projects dedicated to supporting and promoting interdisciplinarity and social responsibility in the development of technology/technological ideas/products. Net4Society5 supported these projects by promoting their main outcomes, specifically a toolkit on interdisciplinarity developed by SHAPE-ID, through its communication channels. N4S5 attended project meetings as invited guests, speakers, and board members. NS5 also continued to interact with other NCP networks, presenting on SSH Integration, or by having a booth at their events. The project also supported SSH Integration through its participation at the session “Me and Society: Integrating Social Sciences and Humanities” at the first EU R&I Days in 2019.
Project 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 contributed to raising the overall quality of proposals in SC6, which is something that was reported in an impact report developed following the brokerage in Bratislava. This report analysed via survey the impact attending the brokerage had for attendees who ultimately received funding for calls opened in H2020 at that time.
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. Eventually, all N4S5 activities aimed to support better research results that are relevant for European societies – thus creating a positive societal impact.
Nina Braun speaking at the EU R&I Days, Session "Me and My Society- Integrating SSH", September 2019
Net4Society Match Making Meetings in Dortmund, October 2019
Net4Society5 Flash Presentation Session at Brokerage Event in Dortmund, October 2019
Net4Society5 Brokerage Event in Dortmund, October 2019
Net4Society5 represented by Nina Braun at the European Research and Innovation Days, September 2019