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The Ocean Conference is around the corner!

May 26, 2017

From June 5th – 9th, coinciding with World Oceans Day, the United Nations will host at its headquarters in New York a high-level conference to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

The Ocean Conference aims to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity. It will be solutions-focused with engagement from all.

The Conference shall comprise in its programme plenary meetings, partnership dialogues and a special event commemorating World Oceans Day. Furthermore, the Conference shall adopt by consensus a concise, focused, intergovernmentally agreed declaration in the form of a “Call for Action” to support the implementation of Goal 14 and a report containing the co-chairs’ summaries of the partnership dialogues, as well as a list of voluntary commitments (initiatives voluntarily undertaken by Governments, the UN system, other intergovernmental organizations, international and regional financial institutions, non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations, academic and research institutions, the scientific community, the private sector, philanthropic organizations and other actors – individually or in partnership – that aim to contribute to the implementation of SDG 14) to be announced at the Conference.

The importance of this conference was stressed by the President of the General Assembly:

“The Ocean Conference represents humanity’s best opportunity to remedy the woes we have placed upon the ocean. Those woes are extensive: from marine pollution to overfishing and destructive fishing practices; from harmful fisheries subsidies to lack of high seas governance; from rising levels of ocean acidity to rising ocean temperatures. If the cycle of decline that accumulated human activity has brought upon the ocean is not reversed, the implications for us all cannot be good”. 

You can follow the Ocean Conference live through SDG Media Zone website and social platforms, and keep up with news at the Conference website.

Geonardo follows closely the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 — and furthermore, through our projects, we are joining the global wave to take action and help address the Global Goals.

Our Research and Innovation actions have targeted so far SDG #7 on affordable and clean energy through Start2Act and TASIO, SDG #12 on responsible consumption and production through the project PlasCarb, and SDG #9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure with our projects FORBIO and FISSAC.  Keep tuned to find out about our new ideas to address other of the SDGs.

By: Mariana Mata Lara

EU Blue Growth in Action & European Maritime Day

May 18, 2017

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) funded 15 new blue growth projects that will help enhance career opportunities, stimulate the creativity of young researchers and bring research results faster to the market.

With 84 partners from 17 countries, the new BG projects will join the European Maritime Day (EMD), the key annual meeting point for Europe’s maritime community to network, discuss and forge joint action. This year, the EMD 2017 “The Future of our Seas” conference and exhibition will take place from 18-19 May 2017 in Poole, in the UK, with up to 1000 participants expected.

Out of all the projects, three projects have been selected to present during the EMD plenary session on 19th May – these are:

If you want to read more about the other 12 blue careers, labs and technology projects, you can check EASME’s site. And if you will not be able to go to Poole, you can also check the list with the 27 EMD events across the EU to spot an event near you to celebrate the 10th European Maritime Day!

By: Mariana Mata Lara

Passing on the START2ACT strategy to support European young SMEs and startups

May 2, 2017

Our H2020 project START2ACT has now completed the first of its three years. This past period was all about preparing the START2ACT support programme on Energy Efficiency to people at young SMEs and startups – all public outcomes of this period have been collected and provided here.

The upcoming project period has been launched with an event of major importance for the START2ACT members: The Training of Trainers on the 28. – 30.03.2017 in London.

All 11 partner companies of the consortium met in the British capital and spent three days together to receive training sessions from our START2ACT Energy Experts Carbon Trust, our startup ecosystem insiders and finally on the third day to close the meeting days with a general project assembly.

The Training of Trainers concept

The two Training of Trainers sessions aimed at educating the project partners in rolling out two of the START2ACT Energy Efficiency activities, namely on-site consultancy for SMEs and mentoring for startups, in the nine participating START2ACT countries. As the partners are all energy agencies and consultancy companies active in the energy efficiency field, they are now well prepared to support the two START2ACT target groups, young SMEs and startups.

Lucy Hunt, Paul McKinney and the team from the Carbon Trust delivered the first day Training of Trainers for the Energy Efficiency support to young SMEs. Within the START2ACT consultancy programme, the national partners will provide a free of charge, tailor-made support programme to young SMEs in order to understand and increase energy efficiency, and thereby help boost the companies’ potential to save energy and costs.

Diana Pati from provided on the second day the Training of Trainers for the Energy Efficiency support programme to startups. One of the often-emphasised points during this training session was that startups often have very limited resources for additional topics outside of their original business scope. However, if once embraced an energy conscious company mindset and put this statement at the outset of their value proposition, any startup may boost its position to enter the market. Thus, the START2ACT startup mentoring programme will employ an innovative and lean structure to support startups in energy efficiency.

Influence the future business landscape – replicable strategy across Europe

Moreover, START2ACT seeks at transferring its amassed knowledge to other parties in Europe and beyond who might also be interested in assisting young SMEs and startups in adopting a more energy efficient behaviour. For this reason, the training kits (curriculum for the training) as well as manuals (instructions for the trainer) and handbooks (step-by-step guidance to roll out the support programmes) both for SMEs and startups have been published in the Results and downloads section of the START2ACT web page.

At START2ACT we are dedicated to supporting the players of our future European business landscape towards becoming more energy efficient – we are happy to hear your opinions and try and answer your questions no matter if you are coming from a young SME, a startup or wanting to adopt the training strategy.

By: Daniel Frohnmaier

Horizon 2020 project website – the anchor of your online presence

April 28, 2017

Your proposal is finally becoming a project? Congratulations! As part of the project implementation, you will need to build and continuously strengthen your online presence.

Where to start from? Building a website is usually a good starting point, but do not limit yourself to a standard website just for the sake of having one: before being a deliverable, a website is the online image of your project, the main anchor for all the social media channels and the key tool to attract an audience. So you’d better awake visitors’ curiosity for seeking more information about the project.

What key points to consider when building it? We have some suggestions for you, check them out:

1. What are the aims of the project? Make sure you give a clear overview of the project in an easy and understandable way. Do not use a language that is too specific and scientific, as your broader audience most likely does not need to understand the technical parts, but rather the final aim of the project. Then, present the problem or issue that you identified and clarify how your project is going to deal or solve it without forgetting to highlight the improvements your project will bring to the society.

2. Show that you are not alone. You spent all that time looking for the right partners and aligning all those different points of view, so I bet you do not want to keep them for yourself now. Proudly introduce your partners, one of the key strengths of your project, and the added value and contribution each of them will make. Present them one by one, with their logo and website, so that people can check more information on them.

3. Publish the findings and outcomes of your project step by step. Every time you produce a new report, product or service it is good practice to upload the relevant documents on your website to show your audience the continuous progress of your work or even to receive some input for additional research directions or interesting perspectives. Creating an archive with the results is also a good idea, especially because some deliverables are set as public by the European Commission. In order to make it more appealing, you should avoid keeping simply the official name of the deliverable (such as D1.1) , as people may be scared off and it could sound boring. Go for titles that fully reflect the content. Let’s say that you could name a deliverable Report on mapping the CEE start-up ecosystems instead of D1.1.

4. Keep it updated! It might be difficult as you have other priorities, but a website section with 8 months old news might give a wrong impression on the whole project. So dedicate it more time and promote regularly your activities, opportunities (conferences, funding) or meetings with the partners. People will see how active the project is and will feel more engaged as they can follow the entire process.

5. Visual identity. The project has its own brand so try to coordinate all the visual elements under the same colour, shapes and style so that people will recognize it when they see it elsewhere.  Remember always to keep in mind what you want to communicate with its identity and whom you are communicating to. A start-up project working with students should not look nor feel similar to a project targeting the scientific community. The visual elements, especially the logo, will appear on all social media channels, video, events and official documents so make sure that it is done by a professional and that it fits the project’s needs.

6. Introduce yourself! Visitors of the site will want to know who you are and they will expect a contact person to be in touch with in case they want to cooperate or just want to ask for further information. Finally, do not forget to show where you are based. It is true that we live in a digital era, but showing your location will make people feel reassured.

7. Let’s be social!  Earlier we mentioned the importance of social media channels, but which ones to use? For EU projects we strongly recommend Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s important to create icons in the site to redirect people to these channels so that your audience can stay in touch with you in an even easier way commenting or asking you questions directly.

Easier said than done! But hey, these are the things that will truly make your project stand out. Here we showed you examples of our projects PlasCarb, BILAT USA 4.0 and PLANHEAT.

Do you have a cool website for you project? Don’t be shy and show us!

By: Cosmina Bisboaca

Startup Safary Budapest 2017

April 24, 2017

For two days, Budapest turned into a start-up jamboree by having start-ups, tech companies, VCs, accelerators and incubators from the Magyar capital hosting breakfasts, office tours, workshops, hackathlons, meetups, trainings and professional lectures around the city.

Having a good taste of the start-up ecosystem, attendees had a chance to meet the teams, founders and investors, and to participate in many of the program sessions in the areas of Design, Coding, Mobile Development, Education, Fintech, Data, Lifestyle, Office and HR, IT Security and Developments, IoT and Hardware, Growth Hacking, Ecosystem Collaborators and presented the Budapest Heroes.

The safari of start-ups was set for the +3,000 participants to personalize their own schedule and to travel around the capital visiting several offices according to the venue of the +200 sessions.

Europa Media attended the Safary both days on one hand, to promote START2ACT – our project focusing on helping young SMEs and start-ups to save energy by easy behaviour change measures; and on the other, representing MY-WAY,  the project we coordinate focused on enhancing and improving the collaboration and efforts of web entrepreneurship initiatives.

Budapest Safary speakers included CTOs, Co-Founders, Engineers and other team members of famous organizations such as Prezi, TransferWise, Skyscanner, Uber; and also from local start-ups such as Shinrai, Liligo, BudAffect among many others.

The second edition of the Budapest Safary was successfully closed with the networking party Startup Safary After x Techfroccs, where the attendees and the Budapest tech community got together to celebrate entrepreneurship.

We will be waiting for the third edition in 2018!

by: Mariana Mata Lara

Social Media: an inevitable part of communication in European projects

March 27, 2017

The rising importance of technology in our lives has led to more connected people to online information, not only limited to computers, but also to smartphones and tablets. This makes us face an audience that is connected 24/7 and has the expectation to be continuously updated.

The audience of European projects is no exception in this respect: projects, their coordinators and partners as well as the European Commission and its Agencies are increasingly active on social networks. Social media is a very powerful tool to disseminate information and to effectively let people know about the activities the projects are carrying out, creating networks among similar actors and generating virtual communities interested in specific topics.

Why is a website not enough anymore?

Having a consolidated online presence is vital and is part of the success of a project, especially when it comes to dissemination and communication of results.

A website is indeed the supporting pillar of the online image of a project, so building it in a clear and engaging way is very important. Every social media channel will contain a reference to the site itself as a sign of reliability and trust. However, the website is a one-way communication channel that gives you information when you open it. Earlier in FP6 and FP7, a project website would have been sufficient as an online communication channel, but nowadays this is no longer the case. In this fast-paced era, it would be naïve to believe that people interested in our research would open the site every day to check out if there is an upcoming event that fits their interest, location and schedule. Instead, there is a bigger possibility of success if we share an event on Facebook, for instance, where they can reach the publication through different angles: because the project shared the event, a friend might have liked it or they might be searching for an event in their city and Facebook algorithm would suggest our event as a possible fit.

How can my project benefit from this?

This is why there is a need of understanding web 2.0, a not-so-new concept of Internet where the audience is not only a passive consumer, but prosumers, given that we are now both consumers and producers of content. The followers of our projects have the chance to interact with experts in a very quick and easy way. When a person likes your project page, they will receive your news on their personal feed too. It’s the information going to them, not them looking for it. Now, imagine a person having breakfast, opening their Twitter and seeing that you organized an interesting workshop the other day in their city. For sure they will want to stay updated to join the next one.

With social networks, you can not only reach your target in a quicker and easier way, but you can also broaden it. I might not be aware of what sites my friend visits, or where he obtains information on his topics of interest; but if he ‘likes’ or shares related news, I will directly see the post on my phone, and as a consequence, there is a high chance I will find it interesting too.

The European Commission is increasingly encouraging the beneficiaries to spread their projects’ results not only to the scientific community, but also to a wider audience. How to achieve this? Take, for example, the FP7 project PlasCarb. You may not have wide knowledge about ‘graphitic carbon’ or how a ‘microwave plasma reactor’ works, which are the main topics in PlasCarb, but ‘obtaining valuable material from our own food waste’, which is the overall ambition of the project, may sound quite interesting. Even more so, if you would know that the project’s impact could lead to building stronger and more resistant mobile phone screens.

How to do it?

Opening a new profile or page is free on most popular social networks. This doesn’t mean that it’s easy to drive people to your new profile and get visibility immediately. In fact, people are distracted by a lot of social networks and posts; so you have to earn your audience by sharing valuable content. Not to mention, your project is not the only one wanting to attract followers, there are many projects doing the exact same thing and probably with more resources than you might have. The first step would be to monitor your competitors and learn from both their mistakes and best practices. Engage with them by liking and sharing their posts or events, and take into account all possible collaboration opportunities for spreading further your information.

Ask yourself: what would catch your attention about an EU project? Its results? Its events? Maybe to stay updated with its news?  Depending on the project and its progress, you should highlight its different aspects. During its first period, the promotion about its objectives and partnership should be prioritized, while in the second period there will be more concrete results to show to the world, such as scientific research outcomes, events that took place, or a material product or service.

Secondly, the target audiences should be well defined. Does the project aim at researchers or young startuppers or policy makers?  Based on this, a social media plan will follow to decide on what kind of content, tone and style should be used, together with the number and timing of publications.

All in all, social media networks are a new tool whose potential we should not underestimate or disregard. We should learn how to use their capacity in the most effective ways, since many EU commissioners, decision makers, scientists and researchers, but also official institutions, agencies and NGOs are growing their online presence and engaging with the influencers and most relevant actors in their field of interest. All these online communities will play a significant role as means and part of the communication and dissemination activities.

By: Cosmina Bisboaca

Our Survey with Horizon 2020 beneficiaries: your impressions on proposal preparation and project implementation

March 20, 2017

As we reached halfway through the EU’s eighth Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, at Europa Media we were increasingly eager to discover the opinions our colleagues in some of the key aspects of participation in Horizon 2020. To find out what peer project managers, researchers and funding consultants think of the current state of things in EU funding for research and innovation, we launched a survey consisting of six questions.

Here we show you the results of our own “public consultation”.

Firstly, we tried to understand the research participants’ impressions on a much-debated issue: quality and transparency in the evaluation of proposals.

As little as 9% of the respondents chose the most unfavourable answer: “The quality of evaluations is poor and the process is not transparent enough” – still probably too high a percentage for the Commission’s quality standards. The highest number of responses (40%) pointed to a need to improve the quality of evaluations, followed by the need to make the evaluation process more transparent. The most positive answer, “The quality of evaluations is good and the evaluation process is transparent”, received the second lowest percentage of responses, 20%.

Our second question referred to the novelties of Horizon 2020 compared to FP7: a bigger emphasis on impact and exploitation, as well as new elements such as gender dimension, innovation management and integration of new knowledge. We therefore asked participants whether they feel confident about addressing these issues in your proposals.

The majority of respondents (63%) do understand what needs to be addressed on these issues, however would require more detailed guidance and tools to better address them. On the other hand, very few respondents (9%) do not understand what needs to be addressed in the first place, and almost a third feels confident enough to understand what needs to be addressed and can appropriately address these issues in proposals.

We further wanted to better understand what Horizon 2020 beneficiaries think in terms of leveraging partners and coordinators’ reputation in the evaluation of a proposal. Very few respondents (2%) judge partnership completely irrelevant to the proposal chances of success (“An excellent proposal has a chance for funding even if its partnership is not strong”): the highest number of participants (40%) think that “An excellent proposal always has a chance for funding as long as it has an appropriate partnership”; this is followed by a 31% rather believing that “Having the right partners on board matters the most for getting a proposal funded”. The rest of the individuals taking the survey believe that “Even if a proposal is not excellent, it will have chances for funding if it has the right partners on board”.

Concerning more specifically the coordinator’s name, nobody believes that this does not influence at all the evaluation of Horizon 2020 proposals, whereas 45% of the research community considers it influential; 21% very influential and 27% as neutral.

Moving from proposal development and evaluation to the realm of project management, 71% of survey participants consider “Developing and submitting competitive project proposals” as the most challenging/demanding process throughout the full lifecycle of a Horizon 2020 project. It seems that once the project starts, technical implementation and financial management are not considered a key obstacle (respectively, only 8% and 9% indicated these as key challenges), thus suggesting that proposal development and evaluation are still the most problematic and least understood processes.

Finally, on reporting obligations in Horizon 2020 projects, exactly half of the respondents only mildly agree on the statement “Technical and financial reporting procedures in Horizon 2020 are clear and appropriate”, while only 5% strongly agree with it and as low as 1% fully disagree.

Based on these findings, it seems fair to conclude that Horizon 2020 beneficiaries and potential participants generally feel that access to EU funding through proposals is still too complex: they place a high importance to the careful selection of partners and coordinators, especially looking at their reputation in the EU research and innovation landscape, and would like to see higher quality and more transparency in the evaluation process. Once they have obtained funding for their research idea, it seems that the technical and financial implementation, as well as the reporting obligations, are not a major challenge, but reaching this point may be so demanding that individuals are easily discouraged from trying.

By: Valentina Zuri