These FAQ aim to clarify the scope of the calls, topics and areas within topics. Opinion on the precise content of a draft proposal cannot be provided by the Commission services.
The FAQs are regularly updated.
Please refer also to the general FAQ on Horizon 2020 on the participant portal.
Which Calls are open to ESFRI project only?
Only one topic, INFRADEV-2-2016, is restricted to projects in the ESFRI roadmap. Another topic of the same call, INFRADEV-3-2016-2017 is open only to ESFRI projects and other world class research infrastructure with in Europe, with established legal structure and international governance.
Can the methodology for costing of large research infrastructure (Art. 6.2.D.4 of the model grant agreement) be used within proposals under this part of the Work Programme?
As specified in the model grant agreement, this option is not applicable for any topics within calls under Part ‘Research Infrastructure’, except for e-Infrastructure topics. See page 22 of the December 2013 model grant agreement.
How do access costs have to be entered in the Part A budget table?
Depending on how trans-national/virtual access costs are calculated, they are entered as follows:
Access costs on the basis of actual costs need to be entered (excluding the 25% flat-rate indirect cost / overhead) in the appropriate columns:
The 25% flat-rate indirect cost is added automatically in column (F).
The Integrating Activities call addresses two classes of different communities, ‘Advanced and Starting Communities’. For the latter, the topic description states that “The strongest impact for these communities will be expected typically to arise from a focus on networking, standardisation and establishing a common access procedure, which lay the foundation for well-used trans-national and virtual access provision.” Does a Starting Community need to provide access, describe the peer review procedures to select trans-national access users, etc.?
Indeed, every proposal for an Integrating Activities MUST include Trans-national and/or Virtual Access activities along with Networking and Joint research activities. This is stated in the ‘Scope’ section of the topic description (“All three categories of activities are mandatory as synergistic effects are expected from these different components.” [original emphasis], p. 16 of the Work Programme) and in the box stating the eligibility conditions (p. 24 of the Work Programme). This implies also Starting Communities need to include Access activities. A proposal without any Access activities would be ineligible and therefore would not be evaluated.
Research infrastructures participating in a Starting Community may already be open to external or even trans-national users. Where this is not yet the case, the proposal could describe the peer review procedure in general terms. Moreover, a Networking Activity Work Package may be used to develop and refine it, as well as the access procedure in general, to adapt to the needs of users (see the description of Networking Activities on p.58 of the Work Programme, which includes "joint management of access provision").
Which rules apply to depreciation of durable equipment and capital investment?
Please refer to the Annotated Model Grant Agreement and in particular to article 6.2 and related annotations. There is however and exception to option D.2 of article 6.2 on depreciation costs of equipment, infrastructure or other assets: “for transnational and virtual access to research infrastructure: as an exception, the beneficiaries must not declare such costs (i.e. costs of renting, leasing, purchasing depreciable equipment, infrastructure and other assets) for providing trans-national or virtual access to research infrastructure (see Article 16)”. Please also note that option D.4 (on capitalised and operating costs of ‘large research infrastructure’) of article 6.2 is not applicable for calls under the Work Programme Part ‘European research infrastructures’ other than e-Infrastructure calls.</p>
Under Integrating Activities, which rules for indirect costs apply to travel and subsistence in trans-national access unded under H2020?
The rules on indirect costs have changed significantly compared to FP7. The Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation (RfP) stipulate in Article 29.1: "Indirect eligible costs shall be determined by applying a flat rate of 25 % of the total direct eligible costs, excluding direct eligible costs for subcontracting and the costs of resources made available by third parties which are not used on the premises of the beneficiary, as well as financial support to third parties." Note that the Unit costs for trans-national access costs already include indirect cost (compare RfP Article 29.2 and question 13 above).
Is the exchange of staff between RIs addressed by the ‘Research Infrastructures’ section of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016-2017?
The exchange of personnel between research infrastructures is explicitly mentioned as a possible activity under the calls INFRAIA and EINFRA, as well as for one of the areas under topic INFRASUPP-1-2016.
Complementary to the Research Infrastructures actions, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie action such as the “Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE)” might be considered. Under RISE, the organisations constituting the partnership contribute directly to the implementation of the joint research and innovation activities by seconding and/or hosting eligible staff members. Staff members in RISE are researchers (early-stage researchers and experienced researchers), administrative, managerial and technical staff supporting the research and innovation activities of the project. Only inter-sectorial or international mobility is supported.
Can partners from countries outside the EU participate in our project and receive EC funding?
Please refer to the Guide on Funding of applicants from non-EU countries & international organisations. Regarding the association status of Switzerland, please see the Note on Swiss participation in Horizon 2020.
Are the calls under the “European research infrastructures” part of the Work Programme open to all institutions, or only to ESFRI projects?
Only two topics are restricted to ESFRI projects: INFRADEV-2-2015 and INFRADEV-3-2015. A third one, the “cluster” topic INFRADEV-4-2014/2015, is also mainly addressing the need of ESFRI projects. These should represent the core component of the cluster, but as the topic calls for synergies with other appropriate research infrastructure initiatives, relevant non-ESFRI research infrastructures can of course be part of the consortium.
The description of Topic INFRAIA-1-2014/2015 does state: “Integrating Activities are expected to duly take into account all relevant ESFRI research infrastructures to exploit synergies and to ensure that rationally designed, comprehensive and coherent overall concepts for European Infrastructures are being pursued”. However this is to be interpreted within the context of the overall topic description. This topic is explicitly targeting key national and regional research infrastructures, i.e., non-ESFRI ones. However in some areas, the development of pan-European ESFRI projects implies the setting of common standards, common ICT solutions etc. When appropriate, the Integrating Activities should make use of these results, exploit synergies and ensure interoperability. Depending on what is most suitable to achieve the project goals, this could be achieved either by involving the relevant ESFRI projects in the Consortium or by appropriate networking activities.
Under Integrating Activities, what is the difference between trans-national access and virtual access? Which rules apply for claiming costs for these?
For the definition of the two access categories, please refer to the section “Specific features for research infrastructures, D. Integrating Activities, (ii) Trans-national and/or virtual access activities” on pp. 58-59 of the “European research infrastructures” part of the Work Programme 2014-2015.
Virtual Access means “access to resources needed for research through communication networks without selecting or even identifying the researchers to whom access to resources is provided. Examples of virtual access activities are databases available via Internet, or data deposition services. Only virtual services widely used by the community of European researchers will be supported, therefore the services offered under a project shall be periodically assessed by an external board”. As these services are already freely available, there is no need for a competitive selection of users and therefore no need to set up a selection panel. There is no need to identify users either. However, user identification may still be necessary as part of virtual access when this is subject to specific requirements such as registration, authentication and/or authorisation of users (e.g. for access to sensitive data). Clearly there is no need for users to visit the infrastructure to get access and no need to define a unit of access. The access provider will still need to publicise widely the access offered and set up an external board to periodically assess the services offered, as only virtual services widely used by the community of European researchers will be supported. The assessment report must be provided to the EC together with statistics on the access offered during the project, e.g. quantity, geographical distribution of users and, when possible, information/statistics on scientific outcomes acknowledging the use of the infrastructure (publications, patents, etc.).
Trans-national Access means “To provide 'free of charge' trans-national access to researchers or research teams including from industry to one or more infrastructures among those operated by participants. These access activities should be implemented in a coordinated way such as to improve the overall services available to the research community. Access may be made available to external users, either in person ('handson') or through the provision of remote scientific services, such as the provision of reference materials or samples, the performance of sample analysis or sample deposition. … The selection of researchers or research teams shall be carried out through an independent peer-review evaluation of their research projects.” (pp. 58-59 of the “European research infrastructures” part of the Work Programme 2014-2015.)
Note therefore that access provided through communication networks is not automatically virtual access: if such access requires a competitive selection of the users to be served, it is not “virtual access” but “remote trans-national access”. An example of this would be access to a high-performance computer, where the computing cycles are not unlimited and you need to allocate them competitively. Other cases could include services that need project-specific preparatory work (e.g. anonymisation) to enable access to resources via internet. Remote trans-national access requires the definition of a unit of access, the set-up of a selection panel for the selection of users and all the other obligations specified in the Grant Agreement for trans-national access.
The funding rules are laid down in Article 16 of the Model Grant Agreement. Additional information will be contained in the Annotated Model Grant Agreement (annotations on Article 16 are under preparation).
Note that there have been important changes to the funding rules for trans-national access compared to FP7: “Access costs can be supported through the reimbursement of the eligible costs specifically incurred for providing access to the research teams selected for support under the project, or on the basis of unit costs calculated according to the methodology indicated in the Commission Decision C(2013)8199. In the latter case the access costs will be calculated multiplying the unit cost by the quantity of access provided under the grant. The cost of the unit of access to the infrastructure, the unit cost, shall then be indicated in the proposal. A combination of the two methods mentioned above will also be possible.” (footnote 44 on p. 59 of the “European research infrastructures” part of the Work Programme 2014-2015). The relevant sections of the Commission Decision on the use of Unit costs10 are now available on the Participant Portal.
Note also that “a unit of access to the infrastructure shall be identified and precisely defined in the Grant Agreement” to satisfy the reporting requirements (p. 59 of the “European research infrastructures” part of the Work Programme 2014-2015) even if trans-national access costs are to be reimbursed exclusively as direct costs.
The Integrating Activities call addresses “'Advanced Communities' whose research infrastructures show an advanced degree of coordination and networking at present, in particular, through Integrating Activities awarded under previous Framework Programmes. The strongest impact for these communities will be expected typically to arise from focusing on innovation aspects and on widening trans-national and virtual access provision.” Does this mean that it is assumed that networking activities are considered to have already exhausted their role in the previous IA and that the strongest impact is indeed expected from innovation actions, read Joint Research Activities?
“Innovation aspects” do not automatically equate to “innovation actions” or “Joint Research Activities”. For further guidance, please consider in detail the statements on innovation in text of the call, in particular:
“Industry” can be interpreted as all industry including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is up to the proposers to determine which kind of activity within a project and consortium would be best suited to make such a contribution and to achieve the desired impact, including on innovation aspects. It should be kept in mind also that Integrating Activities as before need to include all three kinds of activities: Joint Research, Networking, Trans-national/Virtual Access.
There are management costs associated with each of the Work Packages that are incurred not only by the coordinator, but also by various other partners. Do all these management costs have to be included in the management Work Package?
The Management Work Package should include only the overall project management tasks, including relations with and reporting to the EC. The internal management of each individual Work Package (including the reporting to the coordinator) is done, and therefore charged, within the Work Package itself.
Is it possible to change the consortium for a starting community between the outline proposal at stage 1 and the full proposal (if shortlisted)?
On the timescale of a year between applications there could be changes in the relevant groups. A slight change of the consortium, e.g. the absence of one or two of the partners that had been mentioned at stage 1 and even the change of the coordinator, are acceptable. In contrast, the change of the conceptual basis, of objectives, methodologies etc. are not acceptable.
We have a great many of partners (access providers) that we wish to include in our IA project. Can we include some of them with a third party mechanism, and will their TA costs be reimbursed by the project?
An access provider can be either a beneficiary or a linked third party (reminder: a linked third party must have, with one of the beneficiaries, a legal relationship that is wider than the GA itself). The access costs will be reimbursed in the same way for both.
Linked third parties will all have to produce an access cost calculation sheet (or more than one sheet if they have more than an installation) and they will all have to report the access costs on their financial tables according to the method chosen for reporting their access costs (unit cost, actual costs, or combination). If, however, the third party provides only resources to the beneficiary (e.g. data, use of a site, …) without directly carrying out any task of the project, in particular without directly providing access to the selected users, then the third party could be included in the project as third party providing in-kind contribution either against payment (art. 11 of the Model Grant Agreement) or free of charge (art. 12 of the MGA). This type of third party does not need to fill administrative and financial forms at Grant preparation Phase or to directly submit financial forms at the reporting time. Third parties providing in-kind contribution must be mentioned (with their role and indicative budget) under the specific section in part B of the proposal and of the grant. Their costs that are needed in order for the beneficiary to provide access will be reported in the access cost calculation sheet (and in the financial forms) of the beneficiary and can be charged to the grant.
Can researchers hosted by an institution that is partner in an IA project profit from the Transnational Access (TA) to partner institutions, or are they excluded from TA to project beneficiaries?
The MGA (model grant agreement) does not explicitly prevent any researcher working for a beneficiary from applying for access under the grant, provided that the requested access is for an infrastructure located in a different country from where the researcher works and that this request is evaluated on the same competitive ground than the other requests (no privileged treatment).
In brief, provision of access to consortium members is possible, but it should not be at all the rule. If an IA grant serves only its consortium, this means that it has not been able to sufficiently open its infrastructures to the concerned scientific community and therefore it has missed one of the main objectives of an IA
What are the timelines after submission of proposals?
The time for notification and signature of the GA is 8 months from call deadline (not 5 + 3 anymore).
RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES WP 2016-2017: INFRADEV
INFRADEV-03-2016-2017. INFRAIA-01-2016-2017; INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating activities: Access Costs: is it possible to move from Unit Costs to Actual Costs if the UC during the proposal phase was calculated without any concrete evidence as the facility was still under construction?
Yes. This must be done during the Grant Agreement Preparation with the EC.
INFRADEV-01-2017. Design Studies. A project from the humanities will not have the drafting of concepts, architecture and engineering plans for the construction and plans to coherently integrate the new infrastructure into the European landscape. Can they still apply?
As very likely an RI in humanities will not be a “hard” RI, we do not expect engineering plans for the construction, if they are not relevant. However the concept, architecture (how it will be organised and which will be the key components) as well as the integration in the EU landscape (identifying the GAP that they will cover and that is not yet covered by an existing pan-European RI and how they will relate with other relevant RIs in the European landscape) should be developed in the proposal. The proposer still has 6 months to develop the requested concepts and plans.
INFRADEV-03-2016-2017. Does this call target ONE infrastructure only, or can different infrastructures be partners in the consortium?
This topic targets the long term sustainability (LTS) of individual pan-European research infrastructures. It doesn’t target consortia including more than one infrastructure.
However, there is no limitation in the number and type of applicants in the proposal, provided that all of them contribute and have a specific role in ensuring the LTS of the targeted RI. Therefore, additional partners which play complementary roles to foster the sustainability of the targeted individual RI can join the consortium.
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017; INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating activities. INFRADEV3-03-2016-2017. Access Costs: is it possible to move from Unit Costs to Actual Costs if the UC during the proposal phase was calculated without any concrete evidence as the facility was still under construction?
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Yes. This must be done during the Grant Agreement Preparation with the EC.
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017; INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating activities. INFRADEV3-03-2016-2017. What is the definition of "free of charge"?
It means free of charge for the users. The infrastructure costs occurred for the provision of access to the users is reimbursed by the EC.
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017; INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating activities. INFRADEV3-03-2016-2017. Can researchers from SMEs be supported for their TNA?
Researchers working for SMEs can apply for access as any other researcher. If successful they can be supported by the EU in their access to research infrastructures even if they are not allowed to disseminate the results of the research carried out on the infrastructure. In addition, as indicated in the work programme, each integrating activity proposal is invited to reinforce partnership with industry, including SMEs, by for example, outreach and dissemination activities, transfer of knowledge and activities to foster the use of research infrastructures by industrial researchers.
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017; INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating activities. INFRADEV3-03-2016-2017. Can you restrict the access to facilities?
Yes. Further selection conditions can be added in the Grant. However, restrictions have to be justified by the consortium and approved by the EC.
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017; INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating activities. INFRADEV3-03-2016-2017. How can virtual access provided by countries not receiving EU funding be reimbursed?
For virtual access the eligibility for funding of third country beneficiaries follows the general rules, i.e. for beneficiaries from countries not automatically eligible for EU support funding will be provided if the participation is deemed essential for carrying out the action.
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017; INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating activities. INFRADEV3-03-2016-2017. Is there a limitation in the number of user groups from third countries allowed to get transnational access?
The limitation is on the amount of access provided not on the number of user groups. Max. 20% of the access can be provided to user teams with a majority of users working in third countries.
INFRADEV-03-2016-2017, Individual support to ESFRI and other world-class research infrastructures: In the Section "Specific features for Research infrastructure, B. Individual support to ESFRI and other world-class research infrastructures", the conditions related to combined support with ESIF are described. Where can information relevant to ESIF be found?
Please refer to the guide "Enabling synergies between European Structural and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020 and other research, innovation and competitiveness-related Union programmes" for generic information.
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a.The S3 Platform - Eye@RIS3 - assists EU countries and regions to develop, implement and review their Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3). The Eye@RIS3 is an interactive online tool and database, intended to help strategy development rather than a source of statistical data
b.As Member States are responsible for managing programmes that are supported by Cohesion Policy, it is advised to contact the relevant managing authority.
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017; INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating activities. INFRADEV3-03-2016-2017. Open data: Is it possible that the “opting out” applies only to one WP (e.g. the one dealing with SMEs)?
The Model Grant Agreement indicates that, as an exception, the beneficiaries do not have to ensure open access to specific parts of their research data if the achievement of the action's main objective, as described in Annex I, would be jeopardised by making those specific parts of the research data openly accessible. In this case, the data management plan must contain the reasons for not giving access.
INFRADEV-03-2016: In case there are “observer countries” that are non-formally part of an ERIC, but are providing in kind contribution to it, can these countries join the Consortium that is willing to apply?
Yes. The proposal consortium doesn't have to match the membership of the ERIC. The proposals should include all and only the participants needed to carry out the foreseen activities and to achieve its objectives, in particular the long term sustainability of the RI.
INFRADEV-04-2016, European Open Science Cloud for Research: Why is this not an EINFRA-Call?
The need for a cloud-like infrastructure for research emerged from the Science 2.0 consultation. This need will be addressed by the E-INFRA call too (see topic INFRA-12-2017), however the topic included in the RTD part aims to foster the involvement of the scientific communities and to ensure that their specific needs are properly addressed.
RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES WP 2016-2017: INFRAIA
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017 & INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating Activities: How and up to which level should the regional infrastructures be involved in the Integrated activities ?
National and Regional research infrastructures addressed by this call must be of European interest. The Call aims to address the following 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.”
Furthermore “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 funded.”
In this context, experts will be asked in particular to assess and compare between proposals the expected impact as described in the WP for the INFRAIA topic. Integrating activities are open to regional infrastructures of European interest if they are relevant for the scope of the proposal. The structuring impact on the European Research Area (ERA) remains essential, therefore the European scale is essential.
TAGS: INFRAIA-01-2016-2017; INFRAIA-02-2017, Regional research infrastructures.
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017 & INFRAIA-02-2017, Integrating Activities: How to determine whether a consortium is a Starting Community or an Advanced one?
According to the Definition: "A starting Community has never been supported for the Integration of its infrastructures under FP7, H2020…". There is no other definition or measure. The external experts, before evaluating a proposal, will assess whether the content of a proposal "corresponds, wholly or in part, to the topic/contest description for which it is submitted". They will be provided with the list of all the communities supported in the past through an Integrating Activity grant. A proposal involving exactly the same type(s) of infrastructures (e.g. marine biological stations or particle accelerators or RIs for art restauration) already supported under an FP7 or Horizon 2020 Integrating Activity would not be eligible. In other cases, for example a combination of starting and advanced Communities applying for the integration of their infrastructures, the proposal could be eligible. In any cases applicants are reminded that the experts will assess, among others, pertinence of objectives, soundness of the concept, the extent to which the proposed work is beyond the state of the art (Award criteria "Excellence"), as well as the extent to which the outputs of the project would contribute to each of the expected impacts mentioned in the work programme under the this topic (Award criteria "Impact").
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017 & INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating Activities: How do access costs have to be entered in the Part A budget table?
Depending on how trans-national/virtual access costs are calculated, they are entered as follows:
1.Access costs on the basis of unit cost need to be entered in column (G) ‘Special unit costs covering direct and indirect costs’.
2.Access costs on the basis of actual costs need to be entered (excluding the 25% flat-rate indirect cost / overhead) in the appropriate columns:
a.Cost of human effort / direct personnel costs in column (A)
b.Consumables and other direct costs in column (B)
c.Subcontracting costs, if any, in column (C), etc.
The 25% flat-rate indirect cost is added automatically in column (F).
3.Access costs on the basis of a combination of the two above need to be split into the unit cost and actual cost parts, and these entered as specified above.
INFRAIA-01-2016-2017; INFRAIA-02-2017: Integrating activities. Virtual Access activities: How the services offered will be evaluated by the external board?
According to the H2020 General model grant agreement "The virtual access services must be assessed periodically by a board composed of international experts in the field, at least half of whom must be independent from the beneficiaries" (art. 16.2 Rules for providing virtual access to research infrastructure) and "The reports must detail the access activity, with statistics on the virtual access provided in the period, including quantity, geographical distribution of users and, whenever possible, information/statistics on scientific outcomes (publications, patents, etc.) acknowledging the use of the infrastructure." (art. 20.3 Periodic reports — Requests for interim payments).
The assessment should take into account the level of use of the infrastructure with respect to the size of the targeted user community as well as the appreciation of users. To help the external board, the project will provide appropriate data (e.g. number of downloaded data sets, number of users downloading data or visiting the web site, country of origin etc.). It might also plan user questionnaires for direct feedback on the services.