The European Research Area is aiming for equal representation of all nationalities which will work together to share their expertise. At present, the distribution of European funding is biased towards the original 15 Member States with long-standing experience of European science. Candidate countries including those that became new Member States on 1 May 2004 seem to be less successful at winning the funding. TRAIN-NET FUTURE is a Specific Support Action under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) working to redress the balance in food quality and safety research. It is providing training and networking facilities targeted at researchers and their advisers in candidate countries.
NOT ENOUGH CANDIDATES
Food quality and safety is a hot topic in European research, and competition for funding in FP6 is intense. Following the launch of the call for expressions of interest, 910 proposals were submitted, less than onefifth of which came from candidate countries. Similarly, in the FP5 Quality of Life Programme, applications coordinated and submitted by candidate countries were dramatically less successful than those from Member States.
Candidate countries fall behind for several reasons. Their scientists are less well connected internationally, and not as experienced at navigating the relatively complex Community R&D funding system as their colleagues in Member States. And they may receive a lower standard of help and advice. Groups of advisers, known as National Contact Points (NCPs), are nominated by national governments to lead scientists through the maze of European funding opportunities. But NCPs are variable - they include a variety of types of institution with different levels of funding. Some from the candidate countries are still new to the game, and are struggling to organise and finance themselves effectively.
Under FP5, the TRAIN-NET project provided extra training for the NCPs in 13 candidate countries. TRAIN-NET FUTURE, which involves many of the same partners, is focusing on the needs highlighted by TRAIN-NET, particularly for better training of researchers and higher international visibility of candidate country research. The FP6 project involves 12 candidate countries, three Associated States and ten Member States. This time, the project is working directly with researchers in academia and industry, as well as with NCPs.
The three-year programme will provide training for both NCPs and researchers in candidate countries, on topics such as preparation of a proposal, consortium building, project management, and financial issues. TRAIN-NET FUTURE is keen to provide coaching on the new FP6 instruments - Networks of Excellence and Integrated Projects. These large-scale activities are especially dependent on strong international links.
TRAIN-NET FUTURE will improve international links between researchers in candidate countries. A survey of research activities in food quality and safety will be published on the project website, along with a partner search catalogue. Three brokerage meetings will be organised at which researchers can meet potential partners. The project will involve candidate countries in calls for new partners from pre-existing FP6 projects. Inexperienced NCPs from candidate countries will be 'twinned' with more experienced ones, for advice and support. Checklists and guidelines for working with researchers will be distributed and a staff exchange system will allow advisers from candidate countries to learn directly from their counterparts in Member States.
TRAIN-NET FUTURE is laying the foundations for ongoing training and networking programmes for NCPs and scientists in candidate countries. Ultimately, it should lead to their greater involvement in the food quality and safety area within FP6.
List of Partners
- Hungarian Science and Technology Foundation (Hungary)
- Agency for the Promotion of European Research (Italy)
- Senter - EG Liaison (The Netherlands)
- The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (Turkey)
- Association de Coordination Technique pour l'Industrie Agroalimentaire (France)
- Associação para a Escola Suprerior de Bio- tecnologia da Universidade Católica (Portugal)
- Beta Technology (UK)
- Institut National de Recherche Agriculture (France)
- The Brussels Enterprise Agency (Belgium)
- Food Industrial Research and Technological Development Company (Greece)
- Bureau for International Research and Technology Cooperation (Austria)
- Israel Europe R&D Directorate for FP6 (Israel)
- The Malta Council for Science and Technology (Malta)
- Institute of Fundamental Technological (France)
- The Swedish EU R&D Council (Sweden)
- University of Agriculture Nitra (Slovakia)
- Danish Agricultural Council (Denmark)
- University of Plovdiv (Bulgaria)
- Agency for International R&D Development Programme (Lithuania)
- Federation of Icelandic Industries (Iceland)
- Archimedes Foundation (Estonia)
- Ministry of Education, Science and Sport Research, Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland)
- SNI-RSI EUresearch (Switzerland)
- Baltic Chapter of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering (Latvia)
- Research Promotion Foundation (Cyprus)
- Institute of Food Bioresources (Romania)
- Hitachi Europe (Ireland)
- TRAIN-NET FUTURE
- Full title:
- Training network for national contact points and support organisations with special focus on candidate countries in the areas of food quality and safety
- Contract n°:
- Project co-ordinator:
- Dora Groo,
Hungarian Science and Technology Foundation
- EC Scientific Officer:
- Alessio Vassarotti,
- EU contribution:
- € 1.8M
- Specific Support Action