Tenders & Subsidies

Don’t be Afraid of EU Bureaucracy

Innovative water management became a key issue within the <a name="anfang">5th Framework Programme</a> for research, technological development and demonstration activities.

First hand information
Key actions
Success Tips for EU Programmes Applicants
Experience of an applicant

The 3rd tender was offering the chance to apply for funds for research and demonstration projects in the course of the 4th Thematic Programme “Environment and Sustainable Development” until October 15, 2001. The EU made a total of € 575 million available for this purpose.

First hand information In order to be eligible for subsidies by the EU, a project has to surmount several obstacles. A symposium organised by the BIT (Bureau for International Research and Technology) at the end of 2000 at the Landhaus St. Pölten (Lower Austria) was designed to encourage potential applicants and to supply them with valuable first-hand information. Particularly interesting was the presentation by Jean-François Junger, the EU Scientific Officer for the Department “Sustainable Management of Water Resources and Water Quality”. In his presentation he first outlined the principles of the 5th EU Framework Programme: “Our aim is to mobilise scientific resources on a European level; on the one hand to maximise the net product within the European Union, and on the other to use the new findings as a basis for policy making. It goes without saying that only the best proposals are eligible – and only those are going to be subsidised by the EU! Extremely important in this context is to consider the socioeconomic aspects of the scientific projects, e.g. the promotion of employment. These targets are not really new. But in contrast to former times the EU is now putting emphasis on the direct usability of results achieved from the projects filed; it is a pity when the (theoretically) best ideas are rotting away in drawers.” As a consequence of this policy the scientific findings shall now be distributed and made available in the best possible way. On the other hand the Commission is going to reduce the range of topics that projects can deal with. Thus, the available funds shall be concentrated and the chance for well-elaborated proposals to receive subsidies be increased. In addition to persons or enterprises from EU member countries also those are entitled to participate in the 5th EU Framework Programme that are associated with this Programme (countries applying for EU membership). back According to Jean-François Junger the “Key actions” of the 4th Thematic Programmes Environment and Sustainable Development are:

  • Global change, climate and biodiversity
  • Marine ecosystems
  • The city of tomorrow and cultural heritage
  • Fight against major natural and technological hazards
  • Development of generic earth observation satellite technologies
  • Study of socioeconomic aspects of environmental change within the perspective of sustainable development
  • Sustainable management of water resources and quality of water: the key issue in this context is to link the results of basic research and the policy of water management

In order to increase the ratio of acceptance the number of subjects in this “Key action” was reduced to the following:

  • Strategic planning, integrated management methods and instruments in catchment areas (EU-wide harmonisation of existing models)
  • Socioeconomic aspects (pricing in the field of water/controlling water consumption)
  • Development of supporting software for the water management of communities (Decision Support System)
  • Investigation in substances affecting the hormone system
  • Wastewater treatment and reuse of wastewater
  • Avoidance of contamination of soil, springs and groundwater bodies
  • Clean-up/monitoring (but also forecast) of (for) soils, springs and groundwater bodies that have been contaminated
  • Early warning systems for floods and inundations (important in this context is the incorporation of international ISO standards)

Principally the EU subsidises maximally 50 % of a research project, of demonstration projects, on the other hand, maximally 35 %. Interesting is the fact that studies, data exchange or the organisation of conferences may receive up to 100 % support under certain circumstances. By the way, 10 % of the budgets of the 5th Framework Programme shall be spent for small and middle-size enterprises. Less funds are being spent for scholarships increasing the mobility of European research. backSuccess Tips for EU Programmes Applicants Jean-François Junger recommends potential applicants for EU Programmes to closely study all the programme papers, not only those obviously matching a project. Your proposal finally has to go with all the EU Programmes. Equally important is the creation of a consortium of the right size. Thus, the accumulation of a “critical mass”, preferably made up of partners from several countries, may help reaching the objective both with regard to the financial aspect – the sum of the subsidies claimed for an RTD project shall not be below € 1.4 million – and with regard to the scientific aspect. Important, however, is also the quality of the project management. Junger: “Really eligibly are only those who can prove that they are able to handle the funds and also the data exchange with the project partners. Important is also the obvious relevance of the proposal for EU policy. Therefore potential interest groups and possible final users should definitely be included in the consortium.” Particularly important finally is to observe the submitting period for the project proposal, which has to be filed in 5 copies. There has been an important amendment. From now on it is the date of receipt in Brussels that counts and not the date of dispatch! If you miss the deadline the project will be definitely rejected – for formal reasons. It is also recommended to submit the proposal in writing or to use the so-called “Protool”, an electronic tool to create and submit the project papers. Brussels will confirm the receipt of your proposal by e-mail. backExperience of an applicantMartin Regelsberger works for the AEE – Arbeitsgemeinschaft Erneuerbare Energie - in Gleisdorf. This private research enterprise has dealt for 15 years with solar energy in particular, but is also planning biological sewage purification systems. This field was also the origin of the recently submitted project “Sustainable water and wastewater management plan for tourist establishments”. The culture engineer gives an account of his experience with the EU funding system: “Originally our project was submitted as a research project value € 3.12 (ATS 43 million) and was finally accepted by the EU as demonstration project.” This had mainly financial implications: the financial contribution was limited to € 1.09 million (ATS 15 million) by the Commission; the remaining budget had therefore to be covered by national sources in the four countries, or rather own resources. The project management has divided the project in different sections. The time between the call for submission and the submission deadline was about three months. This is not a lot of time for coordinating eight partners and for drafting a good project with a detailed cost assessment. Therefore Regelsberger recommends: “In any case, use the free ‘Final Check’ of the project offered by the BIT before you submit it. In addition, the EU offers to have a ‘Pre-proposal Check’ made, which has to be applied for about four weeks prior to the submission deadline. Our project was – at least partly – successful. The contract will be concluded after about one year.” (Source: aqua press Int. 1/2001)
Mag. Christof HahnbackInformation & Contact:BIT – Bureau for International Research and Technology Cooperation/Austria
Dr. Ingrid Prohaska
Donau-City-Straße 1, A–1220 Vienna
Phone +43 1 581 16 16–113 AEE, DI Martin Regelsberger
Feldgasse 19, A–8200 Gleisdorf
Phone +43 3112 58 86–50
Fax +43 3112 58 86–51


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