The 3rd Irish National Event of the Support Team for the Atlantic Action Plan took place in Galway on Thursday November 24th 2016. The Irish Support Team’s goal was to firmly connect the Atlantic Strategy with current funding opportunities in the minds of project promoters.
The message was clear, different EU funds should not be viewed as competing but complimentary, and Irish NCPs should share information more frequently.
Having Marcella Smyth – Irish Chair of the Atlantic Strategy Group – emphasized the importance of the Atlantic Strategy both at EU and project proposal level. Marcella opened the session with a high level overview of the Strategy and Plan and actively engaged in the panel discussion and networking opportunities afterwards. Having the Irish Chair of the ASG on the discussion panel also ensured participants knew their comments and opinions were going to be fed back directly at EU level.
Participants and speakers commented positively on the chosen format of the event, focusing on a panel discussion rather than PowerPoint presentations. This active two-way communication format gave plenty of opportunity for interaction on topics participants were interested in, but we were also able to ensure we stayed on target in terms of identified topics for discussion.
One of the main highlights of the day was the networking opportunities for stakeholders. Participants commented that the tea/coffee breaks are the most important part of any event- but as this event was entirely discussion driven, it was felt that networking opportunities were increased.
Each panel member introduced themselves, the operational programme they represented, and its link to the Atlantic Strategy. The moderator then led the panel discussion, covering topics such as:
- NCPs identified linkages between the Atlantic Strategy & their funding programmes
- Best project pathway? Need to identify a natural ‘project lifecycle’ through the funding landscape to aim to deliver a project from start to finish, and then ensure continuity- how to finance nationally once EU funding is over
- Difficulty of seeing how marine is viewed in competition with other sectors e.g. road and transport- it was noted that the Atlantic Strategy could show added value in this situation to differentiate
- Blended funding and how this is viewed by Managing Authorities- not really happening in Ireland but of interest
- Importance of national strategic programmes (e.g. SEAI and Marine R&I Strategy) linking with EU policies such as Atlantic Strategy
- JPI Co-funds – use of national funds to get Irish researchers ‘ready’ for EU wide proposals/ pre-networking.
- Project promoters missing funding programmes- programmes that address the Strategy are not necessarily just the larger EU funds- people have to be creative – e.g. Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)
- US-Canadian funding opportunities- realisation that there are two sides to the Atlantic
- Training on Strategies for evaluators- at EU level, should evaluators be guided to value references to overarching strategies during proposal evaluation?
- Success rates across the different funding streams
- As an SME which is the best funding to apply for and where do they get that information
- Investment needed for SME instrument implementation
- Commitment of H2020 application process vs Interreg
- Private sector & Interreg- situation now changed and SMEs can formally be partners and draw down funds same as others
- Guidance on what is acceptable from private sector in terms of match funding
- Why the evaluation process gets so little time for such lengthy applications
- Preparation costs for Interreg
- Enterprise Ireland grants & other supports available for proposal preparation
- Practical use of the Atlantic Strategy in proposals/ Some funding programmes use it during proposal assessment
- Use of the Atlantic Strategy website as a resource – wealth of information already gathered to navigate the funding landscape
- Practical tips from NCPs
- BREXIT – business as usual
- Future of funding programmes- H2020 FP9