MIRRIS (Mobilizing Institutional Reform for Research and Innovation Systems) is a Coordination and Support Action aiming at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of R&I performance in ERA and Framework Programmes of the EU12 and Croatia and to propose initiatives to improve participation to H2020 and performance with a multi-level policy dialogue among stakeholders in each target country, MIRRIS is funded under FP7 Social Sciences and Humanities programme and implemented by a consortium of 12 leading organizations in the field of research and innovation.
Notes from the editor

Dear MIRRIS followers,

We have the pleasure to introduce the 4th edition of the MIRRIS newsletter.

In this issue you can read a very interesting interview with Mathieu Doussineau and Andrea Conte from the Joint Research Centre - Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS), and managing team of the project Stairway to Excellence (S2E). Aim of the project is supporting New Member States  in developing and exploiting the synergies between H2020 and European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF). MIRRIS and S2E, due to their synergies and complementarities, will cooperate and exchange information in order to have a better outreach and achieving the best possible results. Go to article

This issue is also introducing a policy brief on the challenge of widening participation of EU13 in EU Framework Programmes. The brief was prepared by the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), MIRRIS Consortium Partner, upon request of the Austrian Ministry of Sciences, Research and Economy. The policy brief highlights statistics showing that stakeholders from EU13 countries have benefitted less in absolute terms from their participation in FP7 than those from EU15 countries. . Go to article

Furthermore, we are introducing a study conducted by the Net4Society project, aimed at understanding why researchers from EU13 have lower success rate in accessing EU funds in the socio-economic sciences and humanities area.

Enjoy your reading!

1) Interview with Mathieu Doussineau and Andrea Conte, managing team of Stairway to Excellence (S2E), JRC-IPTS

Can you explain how DG JRC see the issue of underperformance of NMS in Framework Programmes?

Many different factors explain the level of 'performance' of NMS in FP7: 1/performance of the R&I system as a whole (inefficient governance of the system and policy mix; lack of coherent, integrated policy mix); 2/ push-pull factors for the participation in FP calls from NMS stakeholders (lack of awareness of the FP programmes and experience in writing proposals; increased administrative burden on academic staff etc) and 3/ the level of excellence of the research base, disconnected for a long period from the international environment, mainly due to underfunding of research and lack of competitiveness of the overall underlying economies. In addition, in recent years, some analyses suggest competition rather than synergies between R&I funding sources – for instance, between European and national funding when R&I actors may opt for less risky and much less competitive ERDF source of funding. In this context, it would be better to define the situation as 'under-participation' rather than 'underperformance'.

Which are the most relevant factors that affect differences in the participation in Cohesion Countries?

One of the first success factors in the highly competitive Framework Programme is that participating organisations were already part of research networks prior to the development of the project proposal. After having been partly out of the loop in recent years, research organisations of NMS are facing a major challenge to integrate in the best European research networks. Furthermore, the role of National Contact Points is very important in increasing awareness and providing administrative support to research performers - and it appears weak in these countries. In terms of governance, the cooperation between managing authorities and Regional Development Agencies is not sufficiently developed (this is not particular to NMS). Such cooperation could provide an important added value for the creation of synergies between ESIF managed at the regional level and H2020, given that political responsibility is normally shared between these national authorities.

Can you describe in few words the background and objectives of the initiative "Stairway to excellence"?

The Framework Programmes (FPs) have provided a vital contribution to the development of European competitiveness, growth and knowledge generation. However, there has been considerable variation across EU countries in terms of FPs participation and innovation performance, particularly between those countries, which joined since 2004 and the older MS.

The project Stairway to excellence (S2E) is a new activity within the Smart Specialisation Platform (S3P), and its aim is to support new Member States (the ones who joined the EU in 2004 ) in closing the innovation gap, in order to promote excellence in all regions and EU MS.

This will be done namely by develop and exploit the synergies of two key EU funding instruments for research, development and innovation, H2020 and ESIF, by actively promoting their combination, and building on the synergies with the S3P. . This includes also  stimulating the early and effective implementation of national and regional Smart Specialisation Strategies.


Which kind of assistance are you offering to the Member States and regions through this initiative?

The Project includes the analysis and implementation of two different types of activities:

Upstream Preparatory actions
They aim to help prepare Research & Innovation (R&I) actors to use ESIF resources to participate better in H2020 calls (i.e. sequential funding) and increase innovation impact of these two funding sources (i.e. simultaneous and/or parallel use). The upstream preparatory actions activities will be organised in two main work-packages:

          • Capacity Mapping: Analyses and research activities to:
                  • define the methodological aspects which could lead regional/ national actors to successfully adopt and finance support structures and R&D&I instruments via synergies between fund
                  • assessment of past performance in Framework Programmes of NMS/regions their strengths and weaknesses in terms of R&I capacity, institutional features, and alignment between public R&I and business innovation needs.

                            Particular attention will be devoted to: the methods used to assess the outcomes of the S2E strategies
                            from MS/regions who have joined since 2004,
their governance structures, criteria to select technological
                            areas of specialisation and instruments used to promote cooperation within and outside the region/ MS.

          • Capacity Building: Based on the results obtained in the capacity mapping action, the objective of this action is twofold. Capacity building serves the purposes of preparing R&I actors to use ESIF resources to become more competitive in H2020 calls (i.e. sequential funding) and amplify innovation impact of these two funding sources (i.e. simultaneous and/or parallel use).
           Downstream Preparatory actions
aimed to provide the means to exploit and diffuse R&I results, stemming from Horizon 2020 and
           preceding programmes, into the market with particular attention on creating an innovation-friendly environment for business and industry,
           including SMEs and in line with the priorities identified for the territories in the relevant Smart Specialisation Strategy.


How do you see synergies with MIRRIS?

There are important synergies and complementarities between MIRRIS and S2E. While MIRRIS focuses more on the national level investigating key drivers for participation in H2020, S2E will address the connection between H2020 and regional funds using as much as possible the smart specialisation strategies platform (S3P) and related activities. S2E is implemented by the JRC-IPTS which - in addition to the S3P - runs the ERAWATCH platform (now Research and Innovation Observatory), NETWATCH and other activities in the domain of regional economics and industrial research and innovation. As a Directorate of the European Commission, DG JRC – IPTS is well positioned to play a significant role in engaging the relevant national and regional actors in a constructive policy learning dialogue. The exchange of information between MIRRIS and S2E is therefore of mutual benefit.

2) Policy brief - Widening Participation  (ERA Portal Austria - June 2014)

Written by Klaus Schuch, from Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), MIRRIS Consortium Partner

Statistics show that stakeholders from EU13 countries have benefitted less in absolute terms from their participation in FP7 than those from EU15 countries. This is not a new observation. Since the association of the former Central European Candidate Countries (all of them now regular EU member states) to the 5th European Framework Programme for RTD, it has been argued that within the competitive European Framework Programme for RTD, Central European cohesion countries are at risk of “subsidising” the more competitive, mostly Western European, countries, for various reasons to do with competitiveness (CORDIS focus, 2002; Havas, 1999; Havas 2002; Le Masne, 2001; Mickiewicz and Radosevic, 2001; Nedeva, 1999, Reid et al 2001).

To download the paper click here

3) Net4Society - Socio-economic sciences and humanities in EU 13

Net4Society publishes a study to understand why EU13 researchers have lower success rate in accessing EU funds in the socio-economic sciences and humanities area 

The "Interim Evaluation of the Seventh Framework Programme", 2010, raised the attention on a systematic lower success rates of researchers from new EU member states (EU13) in accessing EU funding for research and innovation. Starting from this, the network of National Contact Points (NCPs)  for Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and Societal Challenge 6 in H2020 – NET4SOCIETY - initiated an investigation to better understand the reasons of this underperformance in their area of intervention.
The results of this research have now been published in the report "Analysis of participation of new EU Member States ("EU-13") in FP7 in the area of Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH)" with the aim to provide practical evidence-based recommendations, namely for SSH NCPs and national policy makers involved in research issues, as to the ways how they could contribute to higher success rates of the EU-13 in socio-economic and humanities-related themes of H2020.

The research was conducted in 2013 and was based on the composite analysis of existing literature, an online survey, and a number of expert interviews, summarizing the key conditions affecting the participation of new EU Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) in the SSH area of FP7, taking into account internal natural differences within the EU13 group.
A series of detailed statistical data related to Member States success rate in FP7 SSH calls are presented, comparing the performance of EU-13 in FP7 SSH to the EU-15. Reasons identified as influential on the success rate are several, and can be summarized as a combination of economic, human resource, and institutional factors. Here are the more important ones:



        • In Member States with higher success rates in FPs, national research spending exceeds 100,000 EUR per 1,000 researchers per year. Expenditure in R&D is thus confirmed as one of the most influential factor in long-term success and shall be set as a goal. This shall comprise not only investment in physical capital but also in human capital, by making research careers more attractive and making the most out of EU mobility programmes for PhDs, to develop more national research capacities.
        • On matter of human resources, success is also related to leveraging on the experience and organizational capacities of applicant organisations and researchers in order to turn excellent researcher into coordinator, able to attract other excellent researchers and thus receive more European funding. Indeed, the absolute number of scientists has been confirmed an important long-term favourable conditions, where the EU-13 comprises only 12 % of the EU-28 researchers. 
        • From the institutional point of view, the developing of a realistic and tailored research strategy, set on a limited number of nationally-relevant research priorities and leveraged internally through the structural funds, would help – in particular smaller countries – to maximise research efforts and build national competitive advantage in given EU-level priorities. In fact, a favourable relation has been spotted between fewer numbers of national research priorities in the area and success rate at the EU level.
        • Finally, network and lobbying capacities are important complementary assets able to potentate research-connected skills, which shall be developed in parallel notably through institutional support in Brussels and in particular through NCP’s experience and advises.

The full report is available HERE