The EU opens 51 calls till May 2012 for the presentation of proposals.
Companies, Universities and Spanish Research Centers face the challenge of further improving the overall 380 Million Euros funding which have been allocated to date to 1.400 Spanish beneficiaries.
Within the “7th Framework Programme for R&D” (or more commonly referred to as FP7), the European Commission has recently published several calls for proposals to finance R&D projects carried out by European institutions and researchers. There are 51 calls for proposals in the following areas: Health, Biotechnology, Information and Communication Technology, Nanomaterials, Energy, Environment, Transport, Social Sciences, Space, Security, Researches mobility, and SME promotion. These calls will start closing from October onwards, up to May 2012.
FP7 was set up in 2007 with a duration of 7 years so to meet the needs of European organizations in terms of research and competitiveness and help them consolidate their competitiveness in this area with respect to the knowledge-based global economy. The estimated funding amounts cover several areas. The majority of the funding available is attributed to Cooperation Projects which seek to promote collaborative pan-European research (also allowing for the participation of non-European countries in many cases) through transnational collaborative projects between Industrial and Academic institutions. The Ideas Program, the second most important in terms of funding, supports cutting-edge research with a very strong focus on scientific excellence. Research can be undertaken in any Science, Technology, Engineering, Socio-economic sciences and Humanities area. Unlike the Cooperation program, transnational collaboration is not compulsory.
Need for Cooperation
Javier Calvet co-founder of Econet Consultants, a leading European consulting firm in the area of Innovation Management with a primary focus on European R&D projects, feels that: “the main difficulties in building a good project consist in identifying the topic within the call which better fits the R&D project of the applicant, and finding the appropriate European organizations to form the consortium”.
To him, “a good European R&D project should have between 7 and 30 members, who must work together for 2 or 3 years, in a 2-4 million Euros project, while taking into account that all preparation, coordination and teamwork activities will also be essential to the project’s success”.
Capacity of improvement
Since the beginning of FP7, about 1.400 Spanish organizations have benefited from these grants, receiving approximately 380 Million Euros. This number could have been higher, given Spain’s potential for research as the rate at which its contributes to the EU’s R&D budget (around 8%). However, given the competitiveness of FP7 and the level of requirement in terms of content both from a scientific / technological (innovativeness of the project idea) and financial point of view (costs related to the project and the consortium ), the overall success rate in Spain is around 20%. In the case of the projects managed by Econet, this success rate is success double (35%). “This is due to the fact that we are very strict in selecting the projects, and that we have also been in the market for 20 years. Econet’s international orientation with personnel in Brussels and offices 6 other EU countries has allowed us to develop a strong R&D network and develop the well-balanced consortiums for our clients, which is one of the keys to succeed in FP7”, says Calvet.
Grants for grants
Both national and regional governments encourage Spanish entities to take part in FP7, so to boost R&D in the country, as well as increase the returns of FP7 with respect to Spain in order for it to match national expenditure in the EU R&D budget. As a result, various financial support mechanisms (known as grants for grants) are provided, mainly by CDTI (Center for the Development of Industrial Technology) in order to help applicants to build a successful FP7 project proposal.
Econet is a consulting firm which offers support services in terms of project idea formulation (from a technology perspective), proposal drafting (technical, financial, organizational) as well as consortium creation. It often uses Grants for Grants in order to helps its clients cover their cost. With offices in 7 EU countries, collaboration patterns with many other Innovation consultancies and Research Centres, Econet is also involved in several projects in Latin America.