Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Integrating Activities for Starting Communities

Topic identifier: INFRAIA-02-2017
Publication date: 14 October 2015

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
08 December 2015
2nd stage Deadline:
30 March 2016 17:00:00
29 March 2017 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Excellent Science
Work Programme Year: H2020-2016-2017
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

European researchers need effective and convenient access to the best research infrastructures in order to conduct research for the advancement of knowledge and technology. The aim of this action is to bring together, integrate on European scale, and open up key national and regional research infrastructures to all European researchers, from both academia and industry, ensuring their optimal use and joint development.


A 'Starting Community' has never been supported for the integration of its infrastructures under FP7 or Horizon 2020 calls, in particular within an integrating activity.

An Integrating Activity will mobilise a comprehensive consortium of several key research infrastructures[1] in a given field as well as other stakeholders (e.g. public authorities, technological partners, research institutions) from different Member States, Associated Countries and other third countries[2] when appropriate, in particular when they offer complementary or more advanced services than those available in Europe.

Funding will be provided to support, in particular, the trans-national and virtual access provided to European researchers (and to researchers from Third Countries under certain conditions), the cooperation between research infrastructures, scientific communities, industries and other stakeholders, the improvement of the services the infrastructures provide, the harmonisation, optimisation and improvement of access procedures and interfaces.

To this extent, an Integrating Activity shall combine, in a closely co-ordinated manner:

(i) Networking activities, to foster a culture of co-operation between research infrastructures, scientific communities, industries and other stakeholders as appropriate, and to help develop a more efficient and attractive European Research Area;

(ii) Trans-national access or virtual access activities, to support scientific communities in their access to the identified key research infrastructures;

(iii) Joint research activities, to improve, in quality and/or quantity, the integrated services provided at European level by the infrastructures.

All three categories of activities are mandatory as synergistic effects are expected from these different components.

Access should be provided only to key research infrastructures of European interest, i.e., those infrastructures able to attract significant numbers of users from countries other than the country where they are located. Other national and regional infrastructures in Europe can be involved in the project, in particular in the networking activities for the exchange of best practises, without necessarily be beneficiaries of the action.

The research infrastructures of a 'Starting Community' usually show a limited degree of coordination and networking at present. The strongest impact of an integrating activity is expected typically to arise from a focus on networking, standardisation and establishing a common access procedure for trans-national and/or virtual access provision.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), Integrating Activities should, whenever appropriate, give due attention to any related initiatives internationally (i.e. outside the EU) and foster the use and deployment of global standards.

Integrating Activities should also organise the efficient curation, preservation and provision of access to the data collected or produced under the project, defining a data management plan, even when they opt out of the Pilot on Open Research Data. Data management, interoperability (definition of metadata and ontologies) as well as advanced data and computing services should be addressed where relevant. To this extent, proposals should build upon the state of the art in ICT and e-infrastructures for data, computing and networking, working in cooperation with e-infrastructure service providers.

Integrating Activities in particular should contribute to fostering the potential for innovation, including social innovation, of research infrastructures by reinforcing the partnership with industry, through e.g. transfer of knowledge and other dissemination activities, knowledge sharing through co-creation, activities to promote the use of research infrastructures by industrial researchers, involvement of industrial associations in consortia or in advisory bodies.

Integrating Activities are expected to duly take into account all relevant ESFRI and other world-class research infrastructures to exploit synergies, to reflect on sustainability and to ensure that rationally designed, comprehensive and coherent overall concepts for European Infrastructures are being pursued.

As the scope of an Integrating Activity is to ensure coordination and integration between all the key European infrastructures in a given field and to avoid duplication of effort, at most one proposal per area is expected to be submitted.

Further conditions and requirements that applicants should fulfil when drafting a proposal are given in part C of the section “Specific features for Research Infrastructures”. Compliance with these provisions will be taken into account during evaluation.

Integrating activities for starting communities range across all areas of science and technology. Proposals should not restrict their services to too narrow research fields and should address the wider scientific communities, even multidisciplinary ones, which can be served by the involved sets of research infrastructures.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:
  • Researchers will have wider, simplified, and more efficient access to the best research infrastructures they require to conduct their research, irrespective of location. They benefit from an increased focus on user needs.
  • Operators of related infrastructures develop synergies and complementary capabilities, leading to improved and harmonised services. There is less duplication of services, leading to an improved use of resources across Europe. Economies of scale and saving of resources are also realised due to common development and the optimisation of operations.
  • Innovation is fostered through a reinforced partnership of research organisations with industry.
  • A new generation of researchers is educated that is ready to optimally exploit all the essential tools for their research.
  • Closer interactions between larger number of researchers active in and around a number of infrastructures facilitate cross-disciplinary fertilisations and a wider sharing of information, knowledge and technologies across fields and between academia and industry.
  • The integration of major scientific equipment or sets of instruments and of knowledge-based resources (collections, archives, structured scientific information, data infrastructures, etc.) leads to a better management of the continuous flow of data collected or produced by these facilities and resources.
  • When applicable, the integrated and harmonised access to resources at European level can facilitate the use beyond research and contribute to evidence-based policy making.
  • When applicable, the socio-economic impact of past investments in research infrastructures from the European Structural and Investment Funds is enhanced.
Cross-cutting Priorities:

Socio-economic science and humanities
Open Science
International cooperation

[1]Exceptionally, the consortium may include only one research infrastructure providing access, if this facility is of a truly unique nature.

[2]Legal entities established in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia, Mexico and USA, which provide, under the grant, access to their research infrastructures to researchers from Members States and Associated countries, are eligible for funding from the Union.

Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects (follow the links to Australia, Brazil, CanadaChina, Hong Kong&Macau, IndiaJapan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme with the following exceptions:

Given the specific nature of this topic, specific eligibility conditions, in addition to the standard eligibility conditions for Research and Innovation Action, apply: all the three types of activities: networking, access and joint research activities shall be included in the proposal. Please read carefully the provisions under the part C of the section “Specific features for Research Infrastructures” before the preparation of your application.

Proposal page limits and layout: As proposals need to give information on the research infrastructures providing access, specific page limits apply. The page limits for a full proposal is 100 pages. The limit for a first-stage proposal is 20 pages.

3. Evaluation

3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme with the following exceptions:

Evaluation Criteria
For the criterion Excellence, in addition to its standard sub-criteria, the following aspects will also be taken into account:
•The extent to which the Networking Activities will foster a culture of co-operation between the participants and other relevant stakeholders.
•The extent to which the Access Activities (Trans-national Access and/or Virtual activities) will offer access to state-of-the-art infrastructures, high quality services, and will enable users to conduct excellent research.
•The extent to which the Joint Research Activities will contribute to quantitative and qualitative improvements of the services provided by the infrastructures.
For the criterion Impact the second sub-criterion is substituted by:
•Where relevant, any other substantial impacts not mentioned in the work programme, that would enhance innovation capacity; create new market opportunities, strengthen the competitiveness and growth of companies by developing innovations meeting European and/or global needs and markets, enhance or protect the environment, or bring other important benefits for society;

Evaluation Procedure
The following approach will be applied successively for every group of ex aequo proposals requiring prioritisation, starting with the highest scored group, and continuing in descending order:
(i) Proposals that address scientific domains or areas not otherwise covered by more highly-ranked proposals will be considered to have the highest priority.
(ii) The proposals identified under (i), if any, will themselves be prioritised according to the scores they have been awarded for the criterion excellence. When these scores are equal, priority will be based on scores for the criterion impact.
If necessary, any further prioritisation will be based on the following factors, in order: total number of users to whom trans-national access to research infrastructures will be provided, size of budget allocated to SMEs; gender balance among the personnel named in the proposal who will be primarily responsible for carrying out the research and/or innovation activities.
If a distinction still cannot be made, the panel may decide to further prioritise by considering how to enhance the quality of the project portfolio through synergies between projects, or other factors related to the objectives of the call or to Horizon 2020 in general. These factors will be documented in the report of the Panel.

3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process

4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

Information on the outcome of single-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

Information on the outcome of two-stage evaluation:
      For stage 1: maximum 3 months from the deadline for submission.
      For stage 2: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.


5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

Research and Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Specific proposal template
Specific evaluation form
H2020 General MGA -Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

Specific features for RI 

Trans-national access cost calculation

Virtual access cost calculation

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility

Classified information

Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply.

Financial support to Third Parties – where a topic description foresees financial support to Third Parties, these provisions apply.


7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions. Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

- Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs.

- Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.

8. Additional Documents:

H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: Research infrastructures (including e-Infrastructures)
H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation
H2020 Work Programme 2016-17: General Annexes
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 - Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme



Additional documents

  • Flash call info en
  • Feedback to aplicants invited to stage 2 en
  • Flash call info for the topic INFRAIA-02-2017 (Stage 2) en

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