More concerted action on joint programming
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) organised a seminar on joint programming on 19 April 2017. The purpose of this seminar was to inform about developments and opportunities in joint programming, with a focus on initiatives in bioeconomy. Speakers from ministries, funding organisations and WUR shared their latest information about joint programming. The discussion at the end of the meeting was focused on how the Netherlands could better exploit its good position in joint programming and how the impact can be improved. The main conclusion was that more visibility and more, concerted, action on joint programming are required.
In Europe, as well as globally, we face a number of societal challenges that no country or region can tackle alone. Addressing these so-called Grand Societal Challenges efficiently and effectively will require combined efforts and new ways of collaboration between countries. In this context the European Council introduced the Joint Programming Process in 2008, which sees Member States coming together voluntarily to build a common vision and develop and implement a Strategic Research Agenda based on existing and new national programmes in key areas that matter to citizens.
The joint programming process incorporates the ERA-NET scheme existing since 2000, the Article 185 instrument, and Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs). Joint programming not only has the potential to avoid unnecessary duplication, it also pulls together the research capacity required to tackle major societal challenges. Member state participation in the JPIs follows the principle of variable geometry and open access. Relevant stakeholders at regional and national level should be involved, and more recently, international cooperation between European Member States and funding organisations further afield.
Dutch involvement in joint programming
The Netherlands participates in all of the 10 JPIs and is number 1 in participation in joint calls. Considering the call budgets for joint actions of JPIs, the Netherlands is in fourth place. The Netherlands participates in many ERA-NET Actions, from the start in 2000 on, offering the research performing organisations valuable opportunities for collaborative research. For example, in the bioeconomy societal challenge, already more than 1150 transnational projects have been funded. This was shown in a demonstration of the data repository of the Platform of bioeconomy ERA-NETs, which is coordinated by Wageningen International in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs. For WUR, research projects funded under ERA-NET or JPI programmes constitute a substantial part of the portfolio of European projects; more than 50 participations are ongoing or will start in the course of 2017. Consortia typically consist of 3-6 partners from different countries, have a duration of 2-4 years, and a budget of 1 – 4 million Euro. However, as speakers from funding organisations stated, visibility is low and there is a lack of coherent policy. The consensus of the participants at the seminar was that the Netherlands is underexploiting its good position in joint programming.
Firstly, the national visibility of JPIs and other European cooperation networks should be increased. Low national visibility leads to limited financial and political support from participating countries and institutions. For example in the Netherlands, there is currently little attention in the National Science Agenda (NWA) for international cooperation. The importance of such cooperation should be stressed in order to let joint programming play a bigger part in the NWA. Moreover the Dutch topsectors should be more aware that participating in JPIs benefits.
Secondly, the seminar participants agreed that a more coherent policy on joint programming is needed on a national basis, because the Netherlands is rather fragmented in this area. Different ministries, agencies and institutions have their own ideas and approaches for how to work in JPIs and ERA-NETs. For the people involved it is often a challenge to stay on top of developments. A better national cooperation and coordination could improve the decisiveness of the Netherlands in joint programming. Equally relevant is a good alignment between the national priorities and the common research agenda. Good examples in this respect are the deltaplan Alzheimer, and the Urban Europe strategy.
Strengthening the coherence can build on several coordination activities already in place. Each JPI has an interdepartmental or mirror group in the Netherlands, with representatives of ministries, funding agencies, research and industry. The national GPC delegates organise twice a year a meeting with key actors from all JPIs and the platform of bioeconomy ERA-NETs to discuss overarching issues. Furthermore, all Dutch representatives in H2020 Programme Committees regularly have meetings.
Impact of JPIs
Part of the seminar programme was dedicated on how to increase the impact of JPIs. A key document in that respect is the Hernani report of 2016, which is the result of an evaluation of the JPIs after 8 years of performance, commissioned by the EC. A key message of that report is that joint programming does not have sufficient commitment from national stakeholders to achieve its potential. Moreover the report states that there is a long term risk to the JPI portfolio beyond the current Framework Programme. The JPI Chairs have already taken common initiatives to turn the corner. They now work in closer collaboration with each other and with the High Level Group for Joint Programming (GPC). Furthermore they have started common working groups on long term strategy and on impact indicators. In addition, they have decided to extend their common communication efforts.
In the discussion it was also brought forward that cooperation with industry, NGOs and CSOs can result in greater economic and societal impact. Co-financing increases the size of a programme, and drawing up a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda together with European Technology Platforms, patient federations, local authorities or other stakeholders results in wider ownership. Moreover, stakeholder involvement can result in more attention to applicability, for example when suppliers and users participate in projects that develop, improve or test products or services.
In summary, the seminar showcased the progress and achievements of the joint programming process and initiatives presented and underlined the need for more visibility and coherence in order to increase commitment and impact.
Herman van Keulen & Christine Bunthof, April 2017
Programme Joint programming seminar
Participants list Joint programming seminar
ERA-NET Cofunds H2020 + FP7 ERA-NET ICT Agri
WUR in Joint progamming projects FP7 H2020
Welcome and Introduction (Huub Löffler, Director Wageningen International, WUR; Member Governing Board FACCE-JPI)
Joint programming in Europe; policy developments and trends (Edvard Beem, Co-director ZonMw; chair JPI MYBL)
Water JPI and its activities (Dominique Darmendrail, Agence Nationale de la Recherche, France; coordinator Water-JPI)
Demo PLATFORM Database (Brenda Kuzniar, PLATFORM communication and project manager, Wageningen International, WUR)
Joint programming and funding in the Netherlands (Josef Stuefer, Sr. Policy Advisor NWO)
Sharing experience of ERA-NET projects_Project FertilCrop (Ron de Goede, Sr. scientist, Dep. of Environmental Sc., Wageningen University)
Sharing experience of ERA-NET projects_projects Pigwatch and SusPigSys (Hans Spoolder, Sr. scientist, Wageningen Livestock Res., WUR)
Report of the meeting:
Joint programming seminar
On 19 April 2017, Wageningen International, part of Wageningen University & Research organised a seminar on joint programming. The purpose of this seminar was to inform about developments and opportunities in joint programming, with a focus on initiatives in the bioeconomy. Speakers from ministries, funding organisations and WUR shared their latest information about joint programming. Furthermore, the meeting provided an opportunity to network, exchange ideas and learn from each other. The seminar was organised by Wageningen International and was attended by thirty-seven people.