First call of ERA-PG generates more than hundred transnational research proposalsNewsitem, 18 May 2006
The ERA-NET Plant Genomics (ERA-PG) is a network of 17 funding organisations from European countries and Israel. The coordination of the network is supported by the European Commission under the ERA-NET scheme of the 6th Framework Programme to strengthen the European Research Area.
The network has the ambition to further structure and integrate national plant genomics programmes in order to reduce fragmentation of research efforts and realise scientific excellence through real transnational collaboration, integration and synergy.
Building upon an existing collaboration between three of its partners and upon progressive coordination and cooperation within the network since its establishment in 2004, ERA-PG has launched its first joint call on the 1st of February with a total budget of approximately 30 M Euro. The ultimate goal of the network is to have a fully integrated European plant genomics programme where all partners can participate on an equal footing.
Objective of the call
The objective of the first joint call ‘Structuring Plant Genomic Research in Europe’ is to stimulate true collaboration between research teams of different countries in order to achieve the highest quality projects, to increase synergies between national programmes and to strengthen European competitiveness in plant genomics research.
Headline topics are broad and inclusive, addressing common issues. The scientific approaches should be genomic and/or post-genomic in nature; applications that address the elucidation of function of single genes are out of the scope of the call. A combination of various genomics and quantitative genetics tools should be employed. Within this framework there is the opportunity to emphasize specific activities in defined collaborations and in the context of two Sub Calls.
All European researchers working in the themes of the present ERA-PG call and eligible to apply for financial support from the participating research funding organisations were invited to apply for funding, taking into account the terms and conditions of their funding agencies described in the National Annexes attached to the general ERA-PG Call Notice. The due-date for pre-proposals was the 16th of March 2006.
The response to the call was high: 106 eligible pre-proposals were received with a total amount of requested funding of almost 135 M Euro. More than 500 researchers from 21 countries are involved in the transnational consortia, including researchers from non-ERA-PG countries.
The pre-proposals were evaluated by the Programme Board (an international panel of independent scientific experts). The Board assessed all applications in terms of their compatibility with the ambition of the call and evaluated as well as compared them according to the call criteria. These evaluation criteria are the following: relevance to the aspirations of the call taking into account specific considerations of the Sub Calls; scientific innovation and excellence; added value of joint working including evidence of true collaboration within the consortium; feasibility of the project; adequateness of planned resources and finance requested.
Within Sub Call A 70 eligible pre-proposals were received, with a total requested budget of approximately five times the budget allocated for this Sub Call. The consortia of the pre-proposals that were rated by the Programme Board as Excellent or Very Good, 44 in total, have been invited to submit a full proposal. Within Sub Call B, for which approximately 12 M Euro is allocated, 36 eligible pre-proposals were received. After careful consideration of the main funding organisations of Sub Call B, all pre-proposals eligible and meeting the major evaluation criteria, 33 in total, have been invited to submit a full proposal (due date 29th of June 2006, 12.00 CET)..
The full proposals will be peer-reviewed by minimally two referees. The consortium leaders will receive the reports and may write a short comment (rebuttal). Then, the Programme Board will assess the Full Proposals, referee reports and short comments and will assemble a long-list of positively peer-reviewed full proposals. Next, moderating Sub Call panels with representatives of the funding organizations, who are aware of the budgetary constraints and are responsible for the selection of projects, will draw up a short-list of projects for each Sub Call to be recommended for funding. Finally, after approval by the ERA-PG Network Steering Committee, the applicants will enter into negotiations with their corresponding national funding organisations, who will take the final funding decisions regarding their share. In 2007 the research projects can start. The call notice and national annexes and the application form are available on the ERA-PG website.