News archive - SEE-ERA.NET: Calling for RTD Cooperation in the Western Balkan Countries

In summer 2006 most of the SEE-ERA.NET partners committed themselves to a first 'Pilot Joint Call for Research Proposals'. This pilot initiative increases RTD networking between research institutions and universities of at least 11 European countries including all Western Balkan countries.

Florian Gruber informs about the current project activities of the Southeast European Era-Net (SEE-ERA.NET).

The Call will be open between November 2006 and March 2007 and published under The assessment of the project proposals will be dedicated to scientific excellence.

The SEE-ERA.NET project

The Southeast European Era-Net (SEE-ERA.NET) is a networking project of RTD funding ministries and agencies. All of the collaborating institutions run nationally funded programmes that are dedicated to (bilateral) RTD collaboration with Western Balkan countries. SEE-ERA.NET aims at interlinking these existing RTD programmes, for example, by launching joint calls for RTD proposals. The overall objective of this project is the development of a sustainable system for improving the integration of research institutions from the Western Balkan countries into the European Research Area. This initiative is supported by the European Commission under FP6.
“In this project we want especially to build on the already existing research potential in the Western Balkan countries. The bilateral S&T relationships represent a significant potential for the establishment of the European Research Area”, says Peter B. Mayr, SEE-ERA.NET coordinator from the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI) in Austria.

Researching the RTD situation

In the beginning of the project a thorough assessment of the RTD situation in the Western Balkan countries was conducted:

  • The nationally funded programmes in the Western Balkan partner countries were externally evaluated by the Croatian Ivo Pillar Institute.
  • A study about the national RTD programmes was conducted by Maria Hinsenkamp on behalf of the National Office of Research and Technology (NKTH) in Hungary.
  • Prof. Milica Uvalić from the University of Perugia, Italy, conducted a scientific study on the national systems of research in the Western Balkan countries in joint collaboration with researchers from the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI) and experts from the Slovenian Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (MHEST).
  • Furthermore the MHEST published a study on the RTD needs of the Western Balkan countries.
  • And, finally, a clustering of the already funded bilateral projects by the Bulgarian Ministry for Education, Science and Technology aimed at the mapping of existing collaboration potential in the region.

The results of these studies contribute to the future plans of the SEE-ERA.NET consortium. For example, they will help to find the funding regulations for the upcoming 'Joint Calls for Proposals'. Furthermore, the findings highlighted capacity problems in the region such as the lack of RTD infrastructrure and management potential as well as differences in project proposal evaluation systems of the individual countries.

The Pilot Joint Call for Proposals

This first Joint Call for Research Proposals is a Pilot activity.
“This call will be a milestone for all parties involved. It is a first step towards more targeted funding for more research institutions. And, the internationalisation aspect: with the support of small, but multilateral research projects, we open the door to new ideas and bigger projects under FP7 or other RTD funding bodies.
What we learned by now is that SEE-ERA.NET is all about trust. If we can prove to our internal decision makers that this Pilot Joint Call is successful we have made a first, important step to test the technical aspects of the new cooperation between the collaborating funding agencies and ministries”, mentions Peter B. Mayr, SEE-ERA.NET coordinator.
The budget for this first call will be around 800,000 EUR to 900,000 EUR with funding in three thematic areas.
Applications will be invited from project consortia consisting at least of three participants from three different countries, among which at least one must be a Western Balkan country. In the case of thematic networks, the minimum requirements are five partners from three different countries; at least two of them must be Western Balkan countries. An external 'Central Administrative Body' will be responsible for the administration of the process. The evaluation of the project proposals will be done externally by internationally respected scientists.
The members of SEE-ERA.NET aim through these activities at contributing to the emerging wider European Research Area and at strengthening the collaborations of the scientific communities within Europe.

Article published in eJournal summer 06.

Entry created by Florian Gruber on August 18, 2006
Modified on August 18, 2006