The European Commission has published the Scoping Paper for Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation 2018-2020 Work Programme.
The paper was developed following consideration of both the Expert Advisory Group recommendations on the 2018-20 Work Programme as well as targeted consultation with external stakeholders at an event which took place in June 2016.
The specific objective of Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation is to provide support for those Member States with lower performance in research and innovation (R&I); helping them strengthen their performance and increase participation in EU R&I funding programmes.
The main actions under this programme are: 'Teaming', supporting the development of centres of excellence via partnerships with institutions of R&I excellence; 'Twinning', building on the potential of institutional networking; and 'ERA Chairs', which bring excellent researchers to institutions with high potential. Furthermore, support is provided to connect unexploited pockets of excellence throughout the EU, via the networking activities of COST.
For the 2018-20 Work Programme, there will be new calls for two out of the three main 'Widening' instruments.
Twinning: Two changes for the next Twinning call are being examined. The first is the inclusion of a strong orientation towards young researchers in Widening countries. The second change (in line with the relevant Slovak Presidency priorities) is the requirement of partners to include a proposal for a joint research project (to be funded from other sources) in the scientific area of choice that will run in a parallel and complementary manner to the networking activities covered by the Twinning exercise.
ERA Chairs: This action aims toward supporting universities or research organisations in their maintaining and attracting high quality researchers under the direction of an outstanding researcher and research manager (the EA Chair Holder). Under the new work programme, the possibility of including an "Advanced" Partner from which the ERA Chair holder will be seconded (full-time or part-time), should the proposal be funded, is being explored.
For the 'Teaming' action there will not be a new Phase one call due to the restricted funding available.
COST related actions will continue to be funded with the COST Association being the implementing entity and contribute to closing the divide in research and innovation performance in Europe.
The scoping papers are working documents not formally endorsed by the Commission, the adoption and publication of the 2018-2020 work programme is expected in October 2017.