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Europa Media recommends – visit Budapest!

September 19, 2016

With Budapest as the site of our office and many successful training courses over the last few years (e.g. European Funding Academy, Proposal Development and Project Management Lab), we are always happy to welcome you to the capital of Hungary. In the hope of sharing with you an unbiased portrayal of the city, this blog post was not written by a Hungarian, but rather a non-local who has been living here for seven years.

At first glance

Without doubt, anyone visiting Budapest as a tourist is charmed by the city’s Art Noveau, Baroque and Neoclassical architecture, the view from the banks of the Danube (parts of which are a UNESCO World Heritage site), affordable and diverse accommodation and cuisine, as well as a trendy and distinctive ruin pub culture. Nowadays, with the Hungarian movie industry booming, it’s also not uncommon to run into Hollywood celebrities exploring Budapest’s busy streets in relative anonymity.

Budapest essentials

Those who stay here a bit longer are bound to get an appreciation of how the network of metro lines, buses, trams, trolley buses, public bicycles and even public boats (that double as a budget sightseeing tour) provides a quick way to get around in this beautiful city. And with the famous thermal baths of Budapest and a thriving cultural scene, there is plenty to see – just be sure to book your ticket in advance as Budapestians are avid theatre and opera goers.

Gradual changes…

Having lived here for some time, I’ve had an excellent opportunity to observe how the city has evolved and progressed resulting in a blend of old and new. Development and renovation is present everywhere – from famous city squares, subway, bus and tram lines to local kindergartens, libraries and playgrounds.

…with the help of EU Funding

It is worth mentioning that many of these projects have been carried out with the support of EU funding1, as “through nine national and regional programmes, Hungary has been allocated EUR 25 billion from European Structural and Investment Funds over the period 2014-2020” with Hungary contributing EUR 4.63 billion2.

 

My personal favoriterenovated spots in Budapest are Várkert Bazár and Ferenciek Tere.

Várkert is a beautiful Garden Bazaar built in 1883 in the neo-Renaissance style near the Budapest Castle. It was designed as a marketplace and a park with numerous stores and studios. Later, the Bazaar was a famous dance club and park hosting various concerts.

However, in the 1980s it fell into disrepair and remained that way until 2014 when it was transformed into a picturesque recreation area in the heart of Buda as well as an exhibition and event venue.

Ferenciek Tere is an example of citizen-conscious urban planning when a busy downtown street was transformed into a pedestrian friendly zone.

City rankings

In no small part due to these positive changes, Budapest has recently made it to the top of city rankings. For example, it was voted the most welcoming city in 2013 (according to reviews on housetrip.com) and the second best city in the world in 2013 and 2015 (according to readers’ choice of Conde Nast Traveler).

Unbeatable location

Your visit to Budapest will be an unforgettable one as the city has something peculiar to offer anyone. But if you’re looking to explore the region, Hungary’s capital is conveniently connected with other popular European cities (both due to the presence of low-cost flights and improved highways). Vienna, where most of our courses in the upcoming training season will be held, is just a two-hour ride away.

By: Liliya Levandovska

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 195% of all public investments in Hungary are co-financed by the EU, making Hungary one of the top beneficiaries of EU funding. http://ec.europa.eu/budget/mycountry/HU/index_en.cfm#cinfo

Funding secured for UK partners in EU projects beyond the date of leaving the EU

September 1, 2016

On August 12th, Philip Hammond, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, has assured that all multi-year projects (ESIF, CAP and H2020) with signed contracts or funding agreements in place, and projects to be signed before the Autumn Statement, will be fully funded even when these projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU, when the payments will be underwritten by the Treasury itself.

After the referendum, uncertainty over future funding for projects increased, leading to the so described discriminatory wave against UK researchers, as some scientists were dropped from H2020 projects because of post-Brexit funding fears. This new move of the recently appointed Britain’s Chancellor, in charge of steering the UK economy through the uncertainty caused by the country’s looming exit from the EU, is guaranteeing British businesses and universities the green light to support key projects on economic development.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, has written to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, setting out the steps that the Treasury will be taking to guarantee funding streams. The assurances set out by the Treasury include:

  • In a short term – before the Autumn Statement, all European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) projects including agri-environment, employment, and regional development schemes.
  • In a medium term – ESIF projects signed after the Autumn Statement but while still remaining a member of the EU, the Treasury will also put in place arrangements for assessing whether to guarantee funding, ensuring that the spending commitments remain consistent with value for money and their own domestic priorities. Further detail will be set out ahead of the Autumn Statement.
  • Where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funded projects while being still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.
  • The UK agricultural sector that receives annual direct payments through Pillar 1 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will receive the same level of funding until the end of the Multiannual Financial Framework in 2020 in order to help the agricultural sector transition effectively to a new domestic policy framework.

In this way, UK’s government is solving past uncertainties regarding grants and UK scientists’ participation in EU projects, but there are still some remaining concerns for UK’s researchers regarding the mobility between the UK and the rest of the EU following Brexit – integral to many H2020 schemes – as well as how to address the longer-term funding issue. For this reason, academics from the Imperial Collage London stated in their website that they are willing to work with the government and others involved in the sector to ensure that UK universities’ future remains “outward looking, European and global”.

BY: Mariana Mata Lara

Swiss research in 2017: Full access to Horizon 2020 or locked out of it?

August 30, 2016

The latest debates on what the future of UK’s science and research will look like after the post-Brexit period has shown us that the EU’s prestigious Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (worth €80 billion) is playing an important role in fostering research excellence of the EU member states. While considering the possible UK-EU potential scenarios, let’s take a closer look at the status of a non-EU country in Horizon 2020.

In July, the SERI (the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation) announced the Swiss Federal Council’s clear intention to obtain full association of Switzerland to Horizon 2020 from 1 January 2017 onwards. As you may know, Switzerland is considered as partially associated in Horizon 2020 until the end of December 2016. The condition for Switzerland to become a fully Associated Country to Horizon 2020 from January 2017 onwards1 is to ratify the protocol extending free movement of people to Croatia that has been on hold for two years. The final decision is expected to be known at the end of December 2016.

The current status of Switzerland in Horizon 2020

You may recall that the Swiss voters backed the curbs on immigration in a February 2014 referendum and Swiss authorities declined to sign a protocol on extending the rule of free movement of persons to Croatia. As a result, the EU rejected Switzerland’s extension of participation in Horizon 2020 as a fully associated country2.

However, a new agreement was signed on 5 December 2014, introducing a provisional solution by granting Switzerland a partially associated status with retroactive effect, from 15 September 2014 until the end of 2016. Under this agreement, researchers in Switzerland can participate and receive EU funding under the Excellent Science pillar (Pillar I) of Horizon 2020 (including ERC grants, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Future and Emerging Technologies and Research Infrastructures), as well as in the programme section on Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation, and in Euratom. For all other Horizon 2020 calls under the Industrial Leadership (Pillar II) and Societal Challenges (Pillar III) pillars, Switzerland is considered as an industrialised third country. In this case, Swiss participants in successful proposals do not receive EU funding, but can receive national funding from SERI on a project-by-project basis, provided they are eligible and comply with the conditions defined by SERI and following a pre-screening by Euresearch.

 

Switzerland’s participation in Horizon 20203  (2014 – 2016)

 

The future of Switzerland in Horizon 2020

As for Switzerland’s future in Horizon 2020 after the expiration of the current agreement, if Switzerland ratifies the Protocol extending the free movement of persons agreement to Croatia before 9 February 2017, the EU-Switzerland Agreement associating Switzerland to parts of Horizon 2020 will be expanded to cover the whole of Horizon 2020, Euratom programme and activities carried out by Fusion for Energy from 1 January 20174. The ratification process is already under way as the Federal Council stated its clear intention to obtain full association to Horizon 2020 for Switzerland, which would allow the Swiss researchers to claim EU funding under all H2020 pillars.

If Switzerland does not ratify the Croatia protocol by February 2017, the provisional agreement will be terminated with a retroactive effect as of 31 December 2016, and Switzerland will be automatically considered as a third country participant.

According to Michael Hengartner, President of swissuniversities, a positive decision would have a tremendous positive impact for Swiss researchers and enterprises. Swiss organisations were facing difficulties after the EU’s rejection as they were excluded to participate in certain instruments, such as the SME Instrument or the Fast Track to Innovation scheme. Uncertainties have led to limited participation in projects, drops in the coordination of projects by Switzerland, exclusion from expert groups and “big loss of influence in the definition of future scientific policy5”.

Swiss participants are advised to consider the following recommendations when submitting 2016/2017 project proposals.

First of all, proposals should be submitted as if the association agreement will continue to apply beyond 31 December 2016 and Switzerland will become fully associated to Horizon 2020 as of 2017. Meaning, Swiss research organisations are invited to submit project proposals for all calls for 2016/2017 (including PPPs under Art. 187 TFEU) as participants from an Associated Country. Contrary to the current practice, Swiss participants shall request the respective EU funding at the submission of proposal, by providing their full attributable research budget “Budget for the proposal” and “requested EU funding”, in order to receive a grant from the EU budget.

Research and Innovation Actions (RIA) and Coordination and Support Actions (CSA)

Innovation Actions (IA)

Moreover, in Horizon 2020 collaborative projects, a consortium must consist of at least three independent legal entities from at least three EU Member States or Associated Countries. To be on the safe side, it is advisable to involve at least three organisations, in addition to the Swiss partner, to ensure the project’s eligibility, in case Switzerland will not gain status of associated country as of 2017.

With regards to the SME instrument, researchers from Switzerland are advised to submit proposals to the 2017 cut off dates as soon as Switzerland is fully associated to Horizon 2020.

Swiss partners will still be able to coordinate projects whatever the status of Switzerland will be as of 2017.

In the event that Switzerland will not be fully associated, it will gain the status of industrialised third country. Based on this:

  • For Pillar I, Swiss project partners will receive EU funding if the grant agreement is signed before 31 December 2016. For other eventualities, e.g. when a project has been positively evaluated but the grant agreement cannot be signed before the 31 December 2016, the Swiss federal government will strive to find a solution.
  • For Pillars II, III and all sections currently not associated, Swiss partners can continue to participate in collaborative projects, but they will not receive EU funding. In this case, the federal government will take the necessary measures to cover the expenses of the Swiss project partner, as is currently the case.

The official recommendation of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) can be found here: http://bit.ly/2bT2ZqV

3. https://www.sbfi.admin.ch/sbfi/en/home/topics/swiss-international-cooperation-in-research-and-innovation/european-union-framework-programmes-for-research/horizon-2020-_-the-european-unions-framework-programme-for-resea/swiss-transitional-measures-for-horizon-2020/switzerland_s-status-in-horizon-2020.html.

Social Media and Communication Internship

August 23, 2016

Europa Media is seeking an innovative, creative, open-minded and goal-oriented intern to join our exciting and fast-growing team. We are looking for a Social Media and Communication Intern who will manage the media campaigns of our European projects on social platforms and will create new and effective ways to extend our existing social media routine with the supervision of our Marketing Specialist.

The successful candidate will manage on a daily basis the social media accounts of several EU research and innovation projects covering a wide range of topics (entrepreneurship, international cooperation, renewable energy and energy efficiency, environmental technologies, climate change, etc.) and will support our Marketing Specialist in creating innovative and compelling social media strategies that connect our partners and clients with our projects and services.

social media intern

Primary Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Update and improve consistency of current and outdated content.
  • Help develop and execute social media strategies.
  • Help develop, manage company and project websites, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
  • Write, proofread, and edit posts, blog posts and articles.
  • Write for a variety of audiences in different tones and voices.
  • Collaborate with internal departments on projects.
  • Demonstrate interest in social media and how media and communication strategies can continuously engage the online community.

Education, Skills and Experience:

  • Experience in online communication, or pursuing a degree in either marketing or communications.
  • Strong understanding of website metrics, data analysis, and reporting tools.
  • Ability to multi-task, manage multiple projects and balance competing priorities.
  • Self-starter with a strong work ethic and willingness to take initiative and be proactive.
  • Comfortable working with different personalities, new people and subject matter experts.
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft, Excel, and Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign).
  • Knowledge of social media and personal experience with social media.
  • Excellent communication and organizational skills with attention to detail.
  • Ability to work independently on projects and also collaborate as a strong team member.

Place and Duration of the Internship:

  • The place of the internship is Europa Media’s offices in Graphisoft Park in Budapest, Hungary.
  • This is a 6 months full-time internship with a possibility of full-time hire at the completion of the internship period.

What we offer:

  • Remuneration to contribute to covering the intern’s living expenses.
  • Great working environment within a young and international team.

To apply to the position, please send your CV and a creative introduction about yourself, your motivation for applying and a summary of your past achievements in any format you find suitable. Send your application to hr@europamedia.org with the subject “Social Media and Communication Internship”.

Closing date of application: 19 September 2016

By: Krisztina Tóth

Transforming food waste into treasure: PlasCarb goes to industry

August 17, 2016

Geonardo, in conjunction with its partners Centre for Process Innovation Ltd., the French National Centre for Scientific Research and GAP Waste Management, presented the PlasCarb project with an exhibition stand at the 7th International Conference on Advanced Nanomaterials (ANM2016) on 25-27 July 2016 in Aveiro, Portugal.

Funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the EU, the three-year PlasCarb project has aimed to transform biogas generated by anaerobic digestion of food waste using an innovative low energy microwave plasma process to split biogas (methane) into high value graphitic carbon and renewable hydrogen (RH2). As the project will conclude in November 2016, the consortium partners can look back on a wide range of activities as well as results achieved which have been presented at this conference.

Over the three days of the conference PlasCarb’s partners provided the visitors with a wealth of informative and interactive materials, personal discussions as well as two oral conference presentations about its ongoing research ventures.

Visitors had the chance to receive first-hand information about PlasCarb, its progress and results to date, not only through slide shows and the information fact sheets, but also through personal discussions with our experts.  

 Moreover, a variety of exhibition samples from PlasCarb’s products were presented.

Renewable PlasCarbon (RPC) is one of these products, generated by the PlasCarb technology through the cleavage of biogas which originates from food waste. RPC is produced from a renewable resource (waste) and has the potential to compete against conventional carbon products from fossil origin and is now being tested in a range of industrial applications.

The exhibition samples, with RPC as the basis for materials like conductive inks, rubber, or filaments for 3D printing, arrived freshly from the scientific laboratories of the PlasCarb partners CNRS, FR and Abalonyx, NO. Interested visitors had the chance to investigate the samples directly at the PlasCarb booth and observe the outstanding properties of RPC.

                                                                                                       

For instance, visitors probed pens containing conductive ink from RPC. Any hand-writing or -drawing could be tested on electric conductivity by simply applying a voltage on either end of the drawn line. The conductivity of the ink became apparent through visualization on the display of a multi-meter.

With these and other illustrations at the PlasCarb booth, the consortium partners highlighted the results and achievements of the project. At the same time, they sought to establish contacts for potential future collaboration with interested people to follow up research and development as well as commercialisation of the PlasCarb technology.

As a next step, the project partners are looking forward to introducing PlasCarb to the industrial resource efficiency and waste management sector with a stand at the upcoming RWM event during 13-15 September in Birmingham, UK.

by: Daniel Frohnmaier

Practical tips for organising brokerage events in EU projects

August 8, 2016

Dissemination and exploitation related activities have always been a focal issue for all EU funded projects. Apart from the traditional ways of disseminating the project results via newsletters, flyers and presenting the results in conferences, it’s worth considering bringing together the key stakeholder groups in either a specialised conference organised within the frame of the project, or host a brokerage event where the various parties could liaise with each other in a rather informal manner.

In one of our recently completed projects, we tried to combine a small-scale specialised conference with such a brokerage event to be able to reach out to a wide group of stakeholders, offering them a full package of information and networking opportunities. Although we did not plan to host hundreds of guests, the organisation process, logistics, identifying target groups and promoting the event took a lot of efforts, and planning had to start way before the event itself. The description of the preparation process below will cover this one specific event; however there are a number of general firsthand experiences included, which you may find useful when aiming to organise a similar event.

Blog

  • If possible, plan your event towards the end of your project (not only you’ll have solid results to disseminate and discuss, but you may also utilise more effectively any “remaining” funds (due to potential under-spending of some partners) to make it bigger with more significant penetration potential or even better in terms of overall quality.
  • Consider initiating a meeting with the key partners well in advance of the event to develop a joint strategy and concrete plans and to allocate various tasks and responsibilities internally.
  • Invest enough time and effort into identifying your target groups to inform about the event and into contacting those potential speakers who will bring value to it; you may achieve better results if you offer them reimbursement on their travel and accommodation expenses (provided you have the sufficient financial background available).
  • As your invited speakers start confirming their participation, be prepared to draft a preliminary agenda and disseminate it heavily in order to trigger additional interest towards the event. Keep this agenda up-to-date and make sure the latest version is available easily at the event’s dedicated site.
  • This site can be incorporated within the project’s or your organisation’s own web page but there are a number of service providers specialised in the IT needs of organising match making and brokerage events (such as online registration, facilitating networking efforts, setting up meetings between the registered participants, indicating interest towards each presentation etc). Previously we worked with the Austrian company B2Match to our greatest satisfaction.
  • Customise and tailor your letter of invitation dedicated to each of your target groups pointing out and highlighting the potential benefits they may have by participating in the event. The single-invitation-fits-all approach usually doesn’t deliver the hoped results.
  • Be prepared that your initial calculations regarding the number of total participants might prove to be overly optimistic and you’ll end up having less attendees than you predicted based on your background research and on the feedbacks of the extensive mobilisation campaign.

It is hard work to bring together such an event, and unless it is planned in advance and budgeted in the proposal preparation phase, it might be very challenging to find sponsors to aid your efforts. On the other hand, it helps enormously to introduce your project to a wider audience, most of them with a relevant background, and disseminate your results which eventually may culminate in another proposal or new partnerships.

By: Istvan Pari