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Involving Partner Organisations during ITN grant preparations – a best practice guide

23rd July 2020 at 11:39 am

In a previous blog post we covered the importance of Partner Organisations in ITNs. Now that most Grant Agreements between the Beneficiaries and the European Commission are being finalized, it’s time to move on to preparing the Consortium Agreement and think of how to best coordinate the involvement and participation of Partner Organisations in your ITN. Given their important role and contribution to your ITN, it’s key to follow a few steps to ensure their smooth involvement in the project. To help you in the process, our ITN experts have put together a best practice guide that covers all the main aspects you should keep in mind.

Start early and set your ITN up for success – inform, confirm or change

It’s good practice to start taking the first steps towards the smooth involvement of Partner Organisations early, to avoid additional administrative tasks later on in the project. The project Coordinator should inform the Partner Organisations involved in the proposal that the project was successfully evaluated and has been invited by the EC to start the grant preparations. When doing so, the Coordinator should also ask the Partner Organisations to re-confirm their involvement in the project, as their participation is of great importance to deliver the required training and secondments to the ESRs. In the case that a Partner Organisation fails to confirm their participation, the project Beneficiaries should seek alternative collaborations to ensure the planned training can be adequately delivered to the ESRs. While it is possible to make changes in terms of Partner Organisations at any point throughout the project, it is highly advisable to have everything well in place for a good start of the project, with all the needed Partner Organisations on board.

Embrace change, when justified

While we highly recommend having all Partner Organisations confirmed at an early stage, it is possible that throughout the project the need will arise for additional training that cannot be delivered by the existing consortium. Especially given the diverse background of the ESRs that will be hired in the project and the interdisciplinary character of ITNs, it is possible that one or more ESRs may require specific training that wasn’t considered before. In such case, one or more Partner Organisations can join the consortium upon consultation with the Project Officer and after providing a Letter of Commitment. In the unfortunate case that a Partner Organisation leaves the consortium, then a substitute shall be found to ensure the necessary training is delivered to the ESRs or, if feasible, the work plan can be adapted accordingly. In any case, the change or addition of a Partner Organisation typically does not require an amendment to the Grant Agreement, but should be documented in the deviations section of the project’s reporting. Once again, we still recommend to be as prepared as possible in terms of Partner Organisations early on, to avoid additional administrative tasks.

The advantage of fewer technicalities

Worry not, there are no Partner Organisation details required in the EC Funding and Tenders portal. Back in 2018 the EC required for details of Partner Organisation to be added to the online Administrative forms in the same way as was done for the Beneficiaries. This requirement, however, was very short lived and there is now no need to detail the Partner Organisations in the online Administrative forms. In turn, this also means that the Partner Organisations don’t have access to the project’s online forms in the EC Funding and Tenders portal.

Agreements –what’s needed and what not

In terms of contracts and agreements, in some cases Partner Organisations are invited to sign the Consortium Agreement, which is typically signed by all Beneficiaries. We recommend to avoid this when possible, as it adds unnecessary administrative complications, especially when the internal requirements of large companies may require going through non-European headquarters for approval of signature. Having a Confidentiality Agreement between the Beneficiaries and each Partner Organisations is recommended instead. Typically, the Consortium Agreement should give the project Coordinator the right to sign such a Confidentiality Agreement with the Partner Organisations, allowing for an easy and straightforward process. In some cases, when a secondment may result in generation of new IP, if there are specific costs incurred due to a secondment or if the ESR involved may have access to a company’s confidential information during the secondment, it is advisable for the main host and the secondment host to sign a Secondment Agreement. Said agreement will be specific to the parties involved and as such is not included in the Consortium Agreement, whereas the Confidentiality Agreements may be included as annexes, if wished.

 BeneficiariesPartner Organisations
Grant Agreement
Consortium Agreement(✔)
Confidentiality Agreement✔ (Coordinator)
Secondment Agreement✔ (only signed by parties directly involved)✔ (only signed by parties directly involved)

Expert help and support

This best practice guide is fruit of accelopment’s many years of experience as Partner Organisations in ITNs and as experts in supporting project Coordinators to successfully manage contract negotiations at the start of a new project and throughout its entire duration. Within the Horizon 2020 programme we have successfully supported the European Training Networks ClickGene, EXCILIGHT, and ImmerSAFE and are currently involved in PEARRL, Train2Target, LightDyNAmics, NanoCarb, MUSIQ and EuroNeuroTrophin as well as in the European Industrial Doctorates STACCATO, MORE and MOSAICS. Following the latest evaluation results, we are also pleased to support 4 newly approved ITNs. Our ITN experts are always looking forward to collaborating with new networks and engaging in new opportunities, be it by providing support with contract negotiations or with training tailored to ESRs and their supervisors. If you’re looking for expert help and support our ITN team is here for you, feel free to get in touch.

Jacqueline Strehler
Project Manager Communications
(LightDynamics, STACCATO)

Marco Cavallaro
Research & Innovation Project Manager
(NanoCarb, MOSAICS)

Julia Götz
Project Manager Communications
(MUSIQ, EuroNeuroTrophin, PEARRL)

Dr. Emily Rose Ciscato
Project Manager Communications