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The roles and requirements of Partner Organisations in ITNs

14th November 2018 at 1:26 pm

With the MSCA-ITN-2019 call now open, we are taking another deep dive into an ITN related subject. Being an SME without any research activities, accelopment is only ever involved in ITNs as a so-called Partner Organisation and never as one of the Beneficiaries. Being a Partner Organisation does not restrict us in any of our expert areas: We can still support the consortium in preparing the proposal, providing project management support and contributing to a variety of project dissemination activities. Nevertheless, there are key differences between Partner Organisations and Beneficiaries in ITNs. Today we are going to be looking at the most common roles and requirements of Partner Organisations.

The role of Partner Organisations in ITNs

Concerning the training of the recruited researchers, the Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), a Partner Organisation’s role in any ITN is solely to complement the research training programme but not employ ESRs themselves. Partner Organisations can still be heavily involved with researchers, for example by offering highly specific training. However, no occurring costs can be claimed. Instead these costs are covered by the unit costs, also known as fixed allowances which are paid to the Beneficiaries.

As part of the training programme, Partner Organisations are able and encouraged to host secondments supporting and extending the training experience of researchers. Should a Partner Organisation host a secondment, the researcher will keep their contract with the recruiting Beneficiary. The Beneficiary will be required to also cover travel and subsistence costs of the ESRs

There is no minimum or maximum amount of Partner Organisations to be included in all three types of ITNs (ETN, EID, and EJD). However, the EC recommends that only Partner Organisations related to the real needs of the project be included. Partner Organisations can be from academic or non-academic sectors and be located in any country.

In some cases, Universities as Partner Organisations award doctoral degrees to ESRs employed at those Beneficiaries, be it companies or non-degree awarding research institutions, that are not entitled to give a PhD.

The requirements of Partner Organisations in ITNs

Partner Organisations and Beneficiaries differentiate in a number of points. Only Beneficiaries are required to recruit researchers and are able to directly claim costs. Additionally, Partner Organisations do not sign the EC Grant Agreement, the EU contract, but it’s recommended to include them in the consortium or partnership agreement.

  Recruitment of Researchers Training and/or hosting of seconded researchers Participation in Supervisory Board Directly claim costs
Partner Organisation    

As an example, in the ETN NanoCarb accelopment will support the consortium in project management tasks, coordinate the communication and dissemination activities and contribute to the ESR training activities with a transferable skill course on research project management and/or grant writing. We will not be able to directly claim costs from the European Commission but our efforts are covered by the management and overhead allowances paid to the Beneficiaries.

Partner Organisations in the proposal

Each Partner Organisation must be listed in the list of participating organisations of the proposal (on the second or third page of the proposal document). Along with the usual requirements (academic/non-academic, country, scientist-in-charge etc.) there needs to be a short description of the Partner Organisation’s role. A profile of each Partner Organisation must also be included in document Part B2 of each ITN proposal. This, however, has fewer fields than the Beneficiaries profile and can only be half a page long (compared to a full page for Beneficiaries).

Finally, Partner Organisations are required to provide an up-to-date letter of commitment (LoC), defining their tasks in the project, for the proposal document Part B2. From past experience, we consider up-to-date meaning it should be no older than one to two months at the time of submission (this is our rule and not defined in the H2020 Guide for Applicants). Including a signed LoC is an absolute must for all Partner Organisations; any Partner Organisation’s missing LoC will lead to their contribution to the project being disregarded. This may be a disadvantage in the evaluation.

Our ITN track record

What started out back in 2008 during the 7th Framework Programme with the Initial Training Networks HEALING, SYSWIND, REFINE and TRAIN-ASAP as well as the NeoGel European Industrial Doctorates (EID) programme, has become a long history of supporting training networks since. Our success has not halted with the transition to Horizon 2020, in which we successfully support the Horizon 2020 European Training Networks ClickGene, EXCILIGHT, PEARRL, Train2Target, LightDyNAmics and ImmerSAFE and are involved in three successful Innovative Training Networks (ITN) funded in the 2018 call: NanoCarb and MUSIQ (both ETNs) and STACCATO (an EID).