Answers to frequently asked questions raised during the Information Day on the Future Internet topic 11 (FIRE+ Future Internet Research & Experimentation) within Call 1 (closing date: 23 April 2014) of the new EU framework programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020.
ICT-11 (a) Research & Innovation Actions
Q1 -- Is it compulsory to have "third party financial support" in the action? What percentage of the requested EU funding should be allocated to this purpose?
The financial support to third parties is a mechanism (also known as sub-granting or cascading grants) that allows an action to select users, experimenters and suppliers without making them partners to the consortium. All proposals for actions under 'ICT-11 a. Research and Innovation Actions' are encouraged to involve the selection of additional users and/or experimenters for the action. Therefore, the 'financial support to third parties' may apply to all of them. Please, note that third party financial support is covered by Article 15 of the Grant Agreement and it does not cover cases like subcontracting or the supply of products and services that form part of the action itself (articles 10 and 13 of the grant agreement).
- Regarding the percentage of the funding allocated to this purpose, it is expected that, for example an action extending an existing facility allocate at least 50% of the requested EU funding to third party financial support, whereas, for example, an action establishing a new facility may allocate to this mechanism a lower percentage of the EU funding, provided that it is justified as more appropriate for the purposes of the action.
Q2 -- Is the process for selecting third parties for financial support the one of the "open calls" as it was considered for the FP7 FIRE initiative?
- The organization of competitive calls in the spirit of FP7 for the addition of beneficiaries to the project is no longer allowed in Horizon 2020. However, in order to select third parties for financial support, actions may decide to organise an open call or a prize procedure. The process for 'financial support to third parties' is fully explained in Part K of the General Annexes; we invite you to read carefully the conditions there.
- Please, note that the proposals are expected to define in detail the selection process of additional users, experimenters and suppliers, for which financial support will be granted. The proposal should also define in detail the criteria for giving financial support, the different types of activity that qualify for financial support on the basis of a closed list, the definition of persons or categories of persons that may receive financial support, the maximum amount of financial support for each third party, as well as the exact criteria for the calculation of the amount received by each party.
Q3 -- Does the percentage allocated to third party financing cover also the administrative costs for the organization of the open call or the prize procedure for the selection of the third parties?
- No, the administrative costs for the selection of the third parties receiving financial support should not be included in the percentage of the funding allocated to third party financial support. However, as mentioned under Q1, the allocation of the received funding to the core tasks of the action, to the administration costs and to third party financial support should be appropriate for the purposes of the action.
Q4 -- What is the expected requested funding for proposals under this topic a.?
The expected requested funding for large actions is 5-8 M€. We expect that actions request a contribution towards the higher end of this range only in well justified cases, e.g. when covering more than one theme. It would be an advantage to address in your proposals how sustainability of the action can be maintained after the EU funding and the duration of the action are over.
Q5 -- Taking into account that 50% of the budget for experiments is a big amount, is it allowed that some actions move to 48 months to have more time for running the experiments?
- There is no general requirement regarding the duration of the action. In the WP we have not indicated an estimated duration, or even imposed a maximum term as an additional eligibility criterion. So you have to propose a duration that is in the interest of achieving the objectives of the action.
Q6 -- Is it allowed to amend the grant agreement in order to add the selected third parties as beneficiaries of the grant and members of the consortium?
- No, it is no longer possible to make the selected third parties partners to the action following an amendment. This was the point of the open, competitive calls in FP7, but is no longer allowed in H2020.
Q7 -- Can suppliers of electronic equipment be selected as third parties receiving financial support? Is it compulsory to select "suppliers" via open calls or is it possible to select them via ordinary bids based on supply specifications?
- Suppliers of electronic equipment are covered by articles 10 and/or 13 of the Grant Agreement. They are third parties providing goods, works or services or implementing tasks of the action as subcontractors. This is NOT relevant to third party financial support. In our case, the third parties receive sub-grants (e.g. for conducting an experiment, or because they win a prize, but not because they provide products or services like normal suppliers). This is article 15 of the grant agreement.
Q8 -- In an action building or extending a testbed, can we allocate part of the received funding to run our own experiments and do our own research in this call?
Yes, part of the funding will be allocated to building the experimental facility, to running your own experiments and performing your own research on top of the experimental facility. By "own", we understand the partners of the consortium, the beneficiaries of the funding. As such, you are not considered "third parties" and you cannot receive parts of the funding allocated to third parties.
Q9 -- Will a proposal be negatively marked if it does not specifically state that it will leverage Europe’s Research and Education Network infrastructure GEANT and it will develop the concepts of Experimentation-as-a-Service (EaaS) and Virtual Experimentation (VE) while addressing nearly all other the other themes under scope (a) Research and Innovation Actions?
Please, note that the text under ICT-11 a. can be sub-divided into three sub-points: i.) proposals for the creation, reconfiguration and/or extension of experimental infrastructures; ii.) proposals that leverage GÉANT and iii.) proposals to develop the concepts of EaaS and/or Virtual Experimentation. Proposals are expected to cover one or more of the sub-points, but not necessarily all of them. So a proposal that does not address specifically leveraging GEANT or the EaaS and/or Virtual Experimentation concepts will not be marked down for this reason.
Q10 -- Is the consortium in charge of any scientific "in itinere" and "post-operam" control on the performance of the third parties receiving financial support ?
It will depend on the contractual arrangements the beneficiary may impose on the third parties. In any case, note that only beneficiaries remain responsible towards the Commission regarding the technical implementation of the action. In addition, note that the concerned beneficiary must ensure that recipients of the financial support also allow the Commission and the Court of Auditors to exercise their powers of control, on documents, information, even stored on electronic media, or on the final recipient's premises.
Q11 -- Is the coordinator in charge of transferring the approved budget to third parties? Is there any regulation for that?
The concerned beneficiary must define the payments arrangements to the third parties. Note that these payments are not distribution of the grant amount to be done by the coordinator, as the third parties are not beneficiaries, but a financial support paid by the beneficiary having foreseen it in the proposal to the target population of the activity implemented by said beneficiary.
Q12 -- What happens if the third party does not fulfil the expected results (as defined in their application)?
The concerned beneficiary may impose contractual arrangements on the third parties, in case these third parties do not comply with the requirements established by the beneficiary for supporting them financially. In any case, only beneficiaries remain responsible towards the Commission regarding the implementation of the action.
Q13 -- Is the consortium in charge of any financial control and/or auditing towards third parties?
Yes if foreseen in the contractual arrangements the beneficiary may impose on the third parties. However, note that the beneficiary must ensure that recipients of the financial support also allow the Commission and the Court of Auditors to exercise their powers of control, on documents, information, even stored on electronic media, or on the final recipient's premises.
Q14 -- Can the coordinator require to the third parties any kind of insurance (e.g. fide jussione) protecting the coordinator against the missed compliance of financial rules and/or against the missing results of the action?
- Yes if foreseen in the contractual arrangements the beneficiary may impose on the third parties. However, note that, in the event of a recovery order at the end of the action, the Commission will exclusively turn to the beneficiary of the EU grant, who then may be asked to reimburse amounts which it has transferred to third parties as financial support.
Q15 -- Since the third parties do not sign the Consortium Agreement, will the IPRs fully disciplined in the open call itself?
The treatment of IPR will depend on the contractual arrangements the beneficiary may impose on the third parties. In any event, according to Article 26.3 of the Grant Agreement the beneficiary must ensure in his contractual arrangement with the third party that he can fulfil his obligations under the grant agreement. The WP and call text may also impose some provisions on the treatment of IPRs.
ICT-11 (b) Innovation Actions
Q16 -- Is it expected that this action also involve third party financial support?
Here we expect proposals for one innovation action that will identify, evaluate and select experimentation ideas and enable them to experiment on top of FIRE+. In essence, this is a broker function, where financial support to third parties is the core of the action. The same principles apply as for the ICT-11 (a) (Article 15 of the Grant Agreement and Part K of the General Annexes). However, it is reasonable to expect that part of the EU funding (in the order of 15 to 25%) will be used by the action as administration costs including for the selection of the ideas. This should be clearly explained and justified in the proposal.