The number of EU-funded research projects with international participation is growing steadily. To face borderless challenges, international approaches are required and more and more collaborative projects are open to partners from outside Europe.
The EC recently published a brochure entitled "International collaboration in EU-funded research" presenting a number of HEALTH projects with international participation - providing both an interesting insight into existing initiatives and an inspiration for future project ideas.
On 12 Nov 2010, an independent expert group has published a report summarizing the results of their interim evaluation of FP7.
The group lists the following "key strengths" of FP7:
- FP7 is considered broad, well equilibrated in terms of geographical spread and and topics covered.
- The principle of excellence in project selection is largely achieved
- Mobility and training are making a valuable contribution to capacity building
- FP7 has a positive influence on research infrastructures
- Calls have been processed effectively and funds have been allocated in a reasonably timely manner
As "Areas in need of improvement" the group has identified the following:
- Administrative burdens
- The goal of boosting female participation to 40% has not been reached, currently only 30% of the researchers involved are female.
- Industrial participation in particular of SMEs is still hampered by complex procedures
Issues considered "New concerns and dilemmas" include the following:
- Research at national and EU levels needs to be better coordinated
- Success rates are low in many areas and imply a considerable waste of research resources; success rates are generally lower in the member states which only recently joined the EU
- Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) are perceived inconsistent in legal structures and procedures and the overhead rates are considered too low to cover the costs of participants
The full report is available here.
On 16 Nov 2010, DG RTD published the 6th progress report on SME participation in FP7. The full report is available here.
According to this report there is hope that the 15% target of SME participation will be met before the end of FP7 in 2013: The EU contribution to SMEs in the Cooperation scheme sees a positive trend (15.4 % in 2010 as compared to 14.7% for the whole duration of FP7 so far). SMEs represent 35,4% of the participating entities in FP7 so far, which is the "highest single group participating in FP7".
The report of the recent FP7 interim evaluation (see for example the related SCIPROM news below), however, states that SMEs have a "success rate of only 17% compared to 20% for all applicants". "Most important, the participation rate of SMEs does not reflect the actual exploitation of results nor the global competitiveness of SMEs". And: “More attention should be paid to the quality and constructive engagement of SME participation rather than just widening it. In this way, the key role of SMEs as the bridge from pre-competitive research to innovation could be enhanced.”