Background and Description
The number of submissions from Western Balkan countries under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) has increased compared to the FP6. The WB research community has obtained key contacts in various thematic areas and is now informed about EU research funding opportunities through a number of past initiatives (such as IS2WEB, SEE-Innovation, Great-IST, SCORE etc.). European Commission Information Days have been held in some countries such as Croatia, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, and National Contact Points (NCPs) have also been established in the region to contribute actively to the promotion of the Framework Programme.
Consequently, a considerable number of innovative organisations are currently getting their first experience in FP ICT projects, but this is more or less in coordination and support actions resulting from regionally targeted objectives. Only a few institutions from the WBC are currently involved in research projects (Integrated Projects or STREPs).
The first calls of FP7 illustrate clearly the need for more support: except Serbia, all WBC have a lower success rate in the field of ICT than overall in FP7 (Cooperation, Capacities, People and Ideas). Albania as a specific case has not been involved in a single proposal in the first ICT calls. The University of Montenegro has been involved in one proposal which was unfortunately rejected. And a total of five Bosnian institutions were involved in four proposals, but nevertheless their success rate was 0 %. Croatia lacks behind in this specific priority, with only five successful institutions out of 38 institutions involved in applications (success rate of 13.16%) – lower than the overall success rate in FP7.
In this framework, the WINS-ICT project was conceived in order to move forward in a threefold approach involving:
1. the consolidation of national cooperation priorities and improvement of research capabilities in ICT areas identified as relevant for economic and social development
2. the alignment of national ICT policies at the regional level, leading to an improved political dialogue between the EU-WBC and setting the basis of a closer match between the future ICT Work Programmes with the priorities and needs of the WB region
3. and additional support for increasing the visibility of the WBC ICT research potential in the EU, the forging sustainable networks between EU-WB researchers and the building of FP7 participation capacity amongst the WB ICT research community.
The WINS-ICT project thus intends to contribute to the Commission’s priority to extend future EU-Western Balkan RTD co-operation by promoting WBC involvement in the ICT programme at multiple levels, comprising support to the regional and bi-regional dialogues, capacity building at the regional and national levels, and targeted dissemination strategies.
The political dimension will build upon on the work commenced by the SCORE project and will in particular be closely intertwined with the WBC-INCO.NET initiative, further entailing regional dialogue and regular information exchange with ICTC members and other EC Directorates General.
WINS-ICT being the natural follow-up project of SCORE will implement some additional efforts as to information, web portal and data collection regarding the countries not represented in this latter project.
By providing deeper analysis and further action in the ICT field, WINS-ICT will similarly acts as an extension and enhancement of WBC-INCO.NET. It will namely establish a Dialogue Forum on ICT for the WBC countries and strengthen ICT policy dialogue and coordination, building on the activities of WBC-INCO.NET.
The dissemination activities and internet portal of WINS-ICT will be finally linked also with the FP7 project ICT WEB-PROMS. An agreement regarding the co-organisation of several training and networking events was reached already when writing the project, as well as the constant mutual exchange of information
WINS-ICT ultimate aim is to fully integrate researchers from the region into networks of FP-active EU organizations and enable their related research organisations to submit their own project proposals as coordinating institutions.