More than 60 marine researchers from third level institutes, government agencies and SMEs braved the elements to get to the Marine Institute, Oranmore on Thursday 7th January for information and advice on the many EU funding opportunities for marine research. The workshop titled ‘Cross Cutting Marine Opportunities in EU Funding’ was organised by the Marine Institute’s Research Office.
Welcoming participants, Mr. John Evans, Director of Policy, Innovation and Research at the Marine Institute highlighted the success of Ireland’s marine researchers to date in winning competitive EU funding: “Irish researchers have won 3.6% of the available funding for Blue Growth topics under the most recent round of results announced by the European Commission for Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2, and this rises to 4.6% when marine related topics relating to sustainable food security are considered. This is becoming a consistent pattern, with Irish marine researchers winning more European competitive funding than would be expected from a country our size.”
He also spoke of the need for a focus on national research collaboration to maintain and improve this competitive position, and the importance of relevant national strategies as tools for researchers preparing funding proposals, specifically Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, and the National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2015-2020.
Dr. Fiona Grant, Marine Institute, and National Contact Point for marine aspects of Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 gave an overview of the priority topics for Blue Growth with a total of €148,5 M available funding with contributions from Climate, Energy and Transport parts of the Horizon 2020 programme. ‘Linking healthy oceans and seas with healthy people’ was one of the key topics covered. Dr. Grant mentioned the concept of the ocean as a ‘blue gym’, citing a recent European Marine Board position paper that shows the significant impact of the oceans on human health and wellbeing.
Dr. Sean McCarthy, Hyperion Ltd, gave very practical advice on ‘How to write a Competitive Horizon 2020 proposal’ with lots of insights for both new and experienced funding applicants. He told scientists to focus on the potential impact of the research proposal. “Begin your proposal with impact – the impact is the big issue. Then write the science around the impact.”
Other advice from Dr. McCarthy included contacting the National Contact Point to ensure a better success rate. “When writing your proposal it’s important to understand how the research priorities have been selected and the national contact point can give you insight into this” he said.
Mr. Gerry Finn, Director, Northern and Western Regional Assembly and National Contact Point for Interreg Atlantic Area gave an overview of the INTERREG Atlantic Area Programme 2014-2020 and success stories from the 2007-2013 ERDF programmes. From 2007–2013, €12.9m in ERDF funding was approved to 56 Irish Projects. Mr. Michael O’Brien, the EU Programme Liaison Officer, gave an overview of eligibility criteria and guidelines on what makes a successful proposal under this financing mechanism.
Four priority areas have been identified which include;
- Stimulating Innovation & Competitiveness
- Fostering Resource Efficiency
- Strengthening the Territory’s resilience to risks of natural, climate and human origin
- Enhancing Biodiversity and the Natural and Cultural Assets
Over €140m will be available under the call from 2014-2020 which is expected to be launched in the middle of 2016. Mr. O’Brien advised that “The technical parameters I spoke about are not formally agreed yet by the member states and there may be further changes over the coming weeks. The Working Group for the programme meets again shortly to advance the progress on the Programme Manual and application process.”