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ETNA
European Transport NCP Alliance

State of the Art - Background

National Contact Points (NCPs) play a crucial role in the Framework Programme as providers of information and assistance to potential participants (applicants) of new projects and contractors of ongoing projects. They reach out to the European research community in order to inform and raise awareness about the funding opportunities of the Framework Programme, to advise and assist potential applicants in the preparation, submission and follow-up of grant applications, and to offer support during the execution of projects - especially with respect to the management and administrative aspects of projects.

One of the great strengths of the NCP system is its national orientation and ability to provide support to applicants in their own native language. On the other hand, this national orientation poses certain problems. The decentralised system, which is organised and financed nationally, has led to the development of a collection of heterogeneous structures reflecting different national traditions, working methodologies and funding schemes. As a logical consequence, no European-wide standards exist with respect to the catalogue of services offered or the quality of performance expected of NCPs.

Objectives

In an effort to address this problem, the project European Transport NCP Alliance (ETNA) aims at developing and implementing a coordination mechanism for stimulating closer co-operation among National Contact Points on the theme 'Transport', improving the overall quality of NCP services across Europe and increasing the transparency of EU research to ensure equal access for all.

The ETNA consortium is pursuing the following basic objectives:

- reinforcing the network of Transport NCPs by promoting transnational co-operation;

- identifying and promoting best practice;

- providing training and twinning measures tailored to the specific needs of transport NCPs;

- improving networking with other networks, organisations and initiatives with the ultimate goal of acquiring and disseminating information beneficial to the research community and instrumental in facilitating a higher average quality of submitted proposals;

- developing tools and practical initiatives which benefit cross-border audiences, in particular for supporting potential participants in the search for project partners.

Description of Work

The project is benchmarking the activities of National Contact Points on the theme of transport in the Seventh Framework Programme to identify best practices and pinpointing existing weaknesses within the NCP network. Identified weaknesses will be addressed within the framework of a multifaceted training programme aimed at the eradication of deficits and the overall improvement of NCPs' performance - both at individual and network levels.

ETNA is also developing effective tools and activities for the entire Transport NCP network aimed at raising awareness about the network and the services it offers, as well as increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of efforts to support researchers in their search for qualified project partners.

The project will also work to improve contacts and communication with other relevant networks and organisations with the ultimate goal of securing a sustainable flow of information of benefit to the European transport research community.

Expected Results

Within the framework of this closer co-operation, NCPs will work together to effect a substantial improvement in the overall quality of NCP services across Europe in the field of transport.

The positive effect of these efforts will not be limited to the NCP network alone. The European transport research community will ultimately benefit from the heightened level of service offered by the network. Individual researchers will profit from higher quality services and information, and the establishment of a more consistent level of NCP services across Europe will contribute to greater transparency of EU transport research funding, thereby facilitating equal opportunities to access the Framework Programme for all.

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