Horizon Europe Cofund-partnerships
As part of the new Horizon Europe framework programme, different types of partnerships are initiated by the European Commission in close collaboration with the member states and its relevant R&I stakeholders. These partnerships cover different fields of science. The FWO participates within the so-called “co-funded partnerships” because they are the ideal instrument within the ERA ecosystem for a research funder like the FWO. In addition to a variety of R&I activities, such a partnership organises open, external periodic calls for research funding. These are also the essence of the FWO participation.
With its participation the FWO consolidates its involvement in multilateral partnerships, following on its extensive participation in the H2020 programmes (including ERA-NET, EJP).
European co-funded partnerships are initiatives where the EU member states together with the European Commission set up a joint R&I programme by signing a so-called “grant agreement”. The objectives of this partnership are to align national/regional research programmes within certain broad themes in Europe, prevent duplication and fragmentation, and to be able to use economies of scale for various fields of science.
In addition to in kind and in cash contributions from member states and any other countries (e.g. associated countries, but also non-European countries with a strategic interest within a specific broad theme), the available resources will be supplemented with a significant portion of EC resources (“co-fund model’) in order to develop a comprehensive programme aimed at creating impact at the national level.
Each of these partnerships will in the coming years initiate a wide range of activities (such as developing new knowledge, monitoring activities, science-policy/society interface, internationalisation, etc.), of which calls for research projects will be an integral part. For Flanders, the FWO, as research funder, will commit itself to these research calls, meaning that it will also have to make choices.
The FWO’s participation in this instrument follows on from its extensive participation in the H2020 research programmes (e.g. ERA-NET, EJP) in previous years, to continue to enable and encourage researchers in Flanders to cooperate with their colleagues in European or other countries.
Prior to the final selection of partnerships in which the FWO will participate, an open consultation was held for a multitude of stakeholders within the Flemish community.
The FWO conducted this survey to obtain a clear picture of the Flemish research landscape with regard to a specific partnership, linked to a scientific domain. More specifically, the FWO examined whether there is sufficient interest, capacity and capabilities within Flanders in view of the significant financial investment involved. This helped the FWO Board of Trustees to decide in which areas the FWO will have to commit itself in the coming years.
The Flemish R&I stakeholders in the broad sense were thus given the opportunity to express their opinion as to whether FWO participation in a given partnership is opportune, based on the following main issues:
- the capacity at Flemish research institutions;
- the importance of participating for all Flemish R&I stakeholders in the broad sense;
- the suitability of the FWO’s funding channels for participation;
- the added value of a European and multilateral framework.
It was an open-ended survey that was distributed widely to generate sufficient visibility. It was initially addressed directly to the following parties:
- the Flemish members of the FWO expert panels (fellowships and projects);
- the research coordination units of the main host institutions for FWO projects, the Strategic Research Centres (SOC), and various Flemish research institutions;
- the Belgian contacts involved in the partnership discussions;
- the Flemish “Programme Committee” members involved in H2020;
- the EWI contacts involved in Flemish Science Policy.
For joint calls supported by the FWO within these co-fund partnerships, an amount of approx. €350,000 (including overheads) is available. Deviations may be allowed in some specific cases, usually for two research projects of three years. Apart from the specific partnership provisions, Flemish applicants are subject to the rules of the FWO research projects fundamental research (FO projects) or those of the FWO’s SBO research projects. However, applications for projects within this framework entail a less cumbersome procedure than that used for applications submitted during an FWO call.
There are, however, also a number of deviations from the regular FWO call framework, which will be clarified in the call notices and FWO participation conditions, including the following:
- Projects have a maximum duration of 36 months and must be budgeted accordingly. Automatic extensions are not allowed within the participation framework, meaning that the resources allocated per project must be expended within the specified project duration.
- Participation in calls within this framework does not interfere with the regular FWO project participation and is therefore not taken into account in determining the maximum number of open/ongoing projects.
- A specific DMP regulation applies in the context of these transnational projects.
- SBO projects aimed at the development of a spin-off are not eligible in this context.
FWO applicants submit their research proposal directly to the call secretariat for a specific call and do not need to submit a separate application to the FWO. For SBO projects under these partnerships, however, applicants must first provide a concise valorisation plan, which will be clarified in the participation conditions for the respective calls.
The FWO's decision as to which Flemish (FWO) project it will support, is based only on the ranking of the consortium applications by a transnational ad hoc international evaluation panel. The applicant of that project will then sign an agreement both with their consortium partners and with the FWO.
The FWO is already a member – or at least plans to become one – of the following co-funded partnerships, which will in a later phase be complemented with additional initiatives:
- Biodiversity+ partnership: The European Biodiversity Partnership;
- Driving Urban Transitions to a Sustainable Future partnership (DUT): Partnership for tackling Urban Challenges;
- ERA For Health partnership: Fostering an European Research Area for Health Research;
- Sustainable Blue Economy partnership: Partnership for a climate neutral, sustainable and productive Blue Economy;
Water4All partnership: Water Security for the planet.