NEURON builds on the achievements and experience gained from its predecessor project NEURON, 2007-2011 (funded in FP6). Based on the activities of the previous project, NEURON II developed new goals and will go considerably further in its ambition. For example, developing best practices for joint calls is not a requirement any more. Similarly, information exchange was a main objective in NEURON I, and not much emphasis will be given to this part of the activities. Although, with the accession of new partners, an update and extension of the existing data bases and analysis of this information will be necessary, this part will be tackled only in a small task rather than an entire work package.
NEURON II is rather focused on programme opening and joint calls for proposals. For example, it plans to kick the project off with a Joint Transnational Call for proposals in the field of technology and methodology development. In addition to JTCs, NEURON II will focus on activities to monitor and if necessary improve the network performance. This work will prepare and lead to strategic activities aimed at a sustainable development of the network. A major objective will be to develop a future transnational cooperation and research funding framework for disease-related neurosciences.
In more detail, the main objectives are:
- Maintaining and further developing a work platform for funding agencies and ministries in Europe and outside European geographic boundaries
- Providing a reliable funding opportunity for transnational collaborative research through regular Joint Transnational Calls
- Developing a vision of a strategic framework for cooperation including financial and legal/administrative concepts and a business plan for a self-sustainable NEURON network
- Analyzing in depth the output of the ERA-NET NEURON (I and II) with regard to the Joint Transnational Calls and other activities
- Integrating new participants (Belgium (FWO), Iceland (RANNIS), Portugal (FCT), and others yet to join) in order to broaden the basis of experience and the impact of joint actions
- Providing support for young scientist in order to help them build an independent research career
- Keeping close relations to the relevant research community and other stakeholders in order to flexibly react to the needs and new developments in disease-related neuroscience research
- Providing a platform for collaboration with complementary pan-European activities such as Joint Programming Initiatives, Mental Health Roadmap, ESFRI, E-Rare2 etc.
The work plan is focussed on networking of funding organisations, communicating with the relevant stakeholders in research and policy, and developing joint strategies for programme opening with the goal to create and maintain a sustainable framework for a transnational network of research funding for disease-related neurosciences. Through opening the national programmes into joint funding activities, collaboration of high quality research groups from the participating countries will be supported and coordinated for the benefit of patients suffering from diseases of the brain and nervous system.
To achieve these goals, seven work packages have been designed, four of them will build on the equivalent WP (1,2,3,5) in the previous ERA-NET, while entirely new goals will be addressed in two WP (6,7) and the young scientist support will be strengthened.
WP1comprises the network coordination and management of tools for communication, administrative and financial issues etc.. In addition to mere management activities, this WP also ensures the textual coordination of work for WP2 - WP7.
Through WP2 information about the point of view and expectations from the scientific community and e.g. patients’ associations flows into the network. This WP provides focused foresight activities to ensure that the work and decisions of NEURON II are based on the state of the art and latest research results. A research agenda will be developed for the lifetime of the ERA-NET and for the time thereafter, supporting the sustainability plans of the network, conceptualized in WP7. This WP requires strong input from the Scientific Advisory Board.
WP3focuses on joint funding activities through the development and implementation of four full-fledged Joint Transnational Calls. The mechanisms for defining the topics of the calls are described as well as the review procedure to select the best proposals.
Support for young scientists was recognized as an important issue in all countries and is one of the major goals of NEURON II. The ambition of this part is considerably increased as compared to NEURON I and independent career options will be addressed in a separate WP, namely in WP4.
The dissemination of knowledge and achievements obtained by NEURON II towards relevant stakeholders (scientific community, patient organisations, health policy makers etc.) will be ensured by WP5 through workshops, newsletters, video clips, press releases and internet publications.
Evaluation and monitoring are important tasks to increase efficiency and secure constant improvement of the network. The output of the NEURON-funded projects from the Joint Transnational Calls will be monitored as well as the ERA-NET consortium itself in WP6.
The future participation in a long lasting European cooperation in the area of disease-related neuroscience will depend on a common strategy for a self-sustainable framework for cooperation. WP7 aims to develop a vision for cooperation among participants as well as with other related pan-European initiatives. A business plan will be elaborated to ensure the continuation of the network after funding by the EU commission.
All decisions, especially those involving the mobilisation of funds shall be done on the principle of variable geometry, in which national aspects shall be taken into account and partners shall decide independently and at any given time of the running ERA-NET how far they are willing and able to join the common activities. Details shall be laid down in minutes, agreements and contracts, where necessary. All activities serve the preparation of programme opening which is reflected among others in Transnational Joint Calls for proposals, and the developments of strategies for long-term sustainability of the network.