I went to a meeting in Peter Mandelson’s basement the other day, otherwise known as the Department for Business Innovation and Skills just next to Westminster Abbey. Lord Mandelson (if you go up about 17 levels of management) is my boss, so it’s good to know where the orders are coming from.
Anyway … the meeting was a briefing day and a chance for the European Commission to explain a bit about the priorities and procedures that people should think about if they want to apply for funding for projects in the Digital Libraries and Preservation area (Formally referred to as FP7 ICT Call 6). The presentations are now available online at http://bit.ly/3oPGFe.
The headline issues that I took away from the meeting were …
The whole funding decision-making process takes nearly a year and is extremely competitive. If you are a small organisation that is simply looking for money … it probably isn’t for you! The commission will be evaluating proposals according to 3 main criteria:
1. Are they proposing something that is useful and is technically robust?
2. Will they be able to achieve their objectives?
3. What impact will the work have?
They are looking for effective collaborations. Consortiums must have a lead and at least 3 other partners. How many partners and where they come from is – contrary to popular belief – not that important! There have been rumours in the past that people needed to hook up with Eastern European partners, or Southern European partners, in order to get funding. This is a fallacy. You just need to demonstrate that your consortium will be effective. In fact, once you have your core group of at least 4 EU partners, additional partners (with appropriate expertise) can come from anywhere in the world.
It is not generally the job of a research organisation to know about marketing and exploiting products that are created as part of a research programme. Join up with an organisation who knows about this stuff! It’s important to get it right and sustainability is EXTREMELY important.
Think hard about what sort of project suits your proposal … The models on offer are:
IP’s = Integrating Projects. Large scale (Euros 6 – 12m … sometimes more). R&D work, concepts, methods, tools, systems, often many partners. Advancing the state of the art – producing solutions that are within 3-5 years of being marketable.
STREP’s = Small to Medium Targeted Research Projects. (Generally Euros 2-4m). Focusing on more specific research problems with outputs that might be 5-7 years away from being marketable solutions.
NoE’s = Networks of Excellence. Advancing knowledge and bridging technological domains
CA’s = Co-ordinating Actions. Helping to ensure synergy between EC funded work
SA’s = Supporting Actions. Helping to maximise the effectiveness and impact of EC funded work
Total funding available for this call – Euros 69m
IP’s and STREPS = Euros 56m
NoE’s and C/SA’s = Euros 13m
Strikes me that a lot of people will be thinking hard and talking to other people over the next 12 months to really try and grapple with some of the hard problems in the Digital Preservation area and that is going to have a marvellous impact on the amount and quality of proposals that might end up flowing towards JISC. I’m not saying we’ll mop up failed EC proposals!! … I’m simply saying this has to be good for generally raising our whole collective game in the relevant areas of research and development.