Questions and Answers
During the Sneak preview event on the draft North Sea Region Programme (2021-2027) many questions were raised by our curious project community. We could not answer all in the designated time. Therefore, we have gathered the questions and answers here.
If you have additional questions that are not listed here, please reach out to us or your National Contact Point.
What is the new programme's funding rate?
Project partners in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden will receive 60% funding and must supply 40% co-financing, while Norwegian partners will receive 50% and have to co-finance 50% of their budget.
What types of activities can be funded?
All activities included in an approved project application, which contribute to the project's outputs and results, can be funded. This includes, for example, pilots, demonstrations, activities associated with the quadruple helix approach, network building, citizen involvement/engagement, e.g. ‘citizen science’, and communications-related efforts.
What is the programme budget and how is it divided among the four programme priorities?
The programme's overall budget will be approximately EUR 179 million. Breakdown by priority is as follows:
Priority 1: 31%
Priority 2: 32%
Priority 3: 28%
Priority 4: 9%
Is there an upper project budget limit?
No decision on this has been reached. In the current programme, there is no upper limit; the average project budget during the current programme period is roughly EUR 4.5 million.
Programme priorities and specific objectives
Are the details about the specific objectives available in writing?
We will be making more information about the priorities and specific objectives available in writing after the draft programme has passed through the initial checks.
Specific Objective 2.3 is about "urban mobility". Should initiatives focusing on rural mobility aim for the same subject objective?
As stated during the webinar, SO 2.3 is about urban mobility. The precise scope of projects within this specific objective is still under discussion, but the basic rule is that the focus of the specific objective is urban mobility.
What if a project addresses two specific objectives under one priority?
A project must apply under one specific objective. Naturally, applicants can reference connections with other specific objectives in their application; however, the focus must lie in one specific objective.
On which TRL levels does the programme focus? Is research possible?
We are not looking for basic research, but are aiming for tests and demos in real conditions, with a view to disseminating the knowledge gained widely, scaling up solutions, and developing strategies and action plans to implement the pilots in the policy or embed them in the economy.
Is there any room for healthcare-related topics within the new programme, for example, under SO 1.1 on research and innovation?
Yes, the programme will be open to projects operating within or about the health care sector. The priority and specific objective that should be selected depend on the angle of the project, but the clearest fit is indeed under Priority 1. Under SO1.1, projects could, for example, focus on strengthening transnational health-care innovation ecosystems to support the development of new products, processes and services. For projects that focus on skills development within the sector, there might also be a fit with SO1.2.
I think two spotlight themes are relevant for my project idea. Do I have to select only one?
No – you may select one, more than one, or none. While we encourage project applicants to consider addressing one or more spotlight themes in their project, it is not a requirement to do so.
Are projects with no marine link at all possible?
Yes. Your project does not have to have a link to the marine area. However, the opportunity to address marine or maritime issues is interspersed among the specific objectives, and it is also highlighted in the spotlight theme 'strengths and challenges in the North Sea basin.'
Application procedure and calls for proposals
When do you think the first call could be launched?
We plan to open the Online Monitoring System (OMS) to applicants in October/November in order to allow them to begin drafting their applications; when the call will officially be launched is still uncertain. Please stay tuned for updates on this in the autumn.
Are the first and second stage application forms available in draft form?
We will be making these available in the autumn of this year.
How will the applications be evaluated?
Assessment criteria have not been finalised for the new programme; however, they will be made available prior to the launch of the first call. To get an idea of the assessment criteria for this programme period, please see this document.
What will be the length of time from call to submission? When do you expect the decision on the 1st call?
The answer to the first question is roughly two months. However, this depends on when we can officially launch the first call (see question above). If all goes as planned, we hope to hold our first monitoring committee meeting to decide which projects to fund in late May of 2022.
Can we apply directly for both stage 1 and 2 in the first call?
The first call for proposals is likely the only call that will be open to both first and second stage applications. This means that a project partnership can select whether to start with the first stage or go directly to 'full application'. Only those that select the latter may begin their activities if approved at the monitoring committee meeting in spring 2022. A successful first stage application in Call 1 can progress to the second stage in Call 2. From Call 2, only successful 'stage 1' applications may submit 'full applications.'
What are small scale projects? Small scale in terms of budget, of number of partners, or scope?
The programme preparation group and joint secretariat are still discussing the framework of the small scale project scheme. More details about these will be available in the autumn.
If a project is approved end May, when can the project start effectively?
A project that is approved may begin their activities as soon as they are notified of their approval.
What is the success rate for North Sea programme applications?
In this programme period, the success rate for full applications was 57%.
Will the application forms be similar in comparison with the previous programme period?
The application form is under development. While there will be several differences between the application used during this period and the next one due to the new regulations, the overall structure of the form will not differ greatly from that of this programme period.
Will there be any workshops to guide applicants in the drafting of application forms?
We will hold webinars about the programme rules and application procedure in the autumn. Depending on interest, we may also run interactive workshops to guide those who need more assistance with the drafting of their application. As always, the joint secretariat and national contact points will also be available to meet (at least online) with potential applicants about their individual project ideas and applications.
Will we still work with the same system of cost validation (national control / FLC)?
Given the indications from our partner countries, the programme expects that the setup of the control system will continue more or less as it has during this programme period. Indications received from France point to a decentralised control system for French partners, but based on a shortlist of controllers (organisations/firms) from which to select.
How many projects will be funded under the first call?
We do not know. It depends on the number and quality of applications.
Project partners and partnerships
I'm curious about the possibility for private partners (entrepreneurs) to join projects and receive part of the grant.
If we want to involve start-ups in a project, what makes it attractive for them to participate?
In the current programme period, 11% of project partners are in the private sector. The programme's impact evaluation found that for-profit private partners benefited in the following ways from their participation in a North Sea Region Programme project:
- Gaining know-how and skills
- Increased capacity to work in transnational projects
- Increased capacity for innovation
- Establishing new networks and new contacts with other organisations or experts
- Opportunity to enlarge the company's customer base
- Implementation of new products and processes
- More efficient use of human and technical resources
Private partners are very welcome in North Sea Region Programme projects. Bottom line: please join!
Will there be an opportunity for partners outside of the programme area to participate in NSRP projects? If so, will there be a limit on how much funding they can receive?
Organisations located outside the programme area may participate in a project in the new programme, as is the case during the current period. In addition, the requirement that the spending outside the programme area contributes to the programme objectives remains. However, there is no longer a limit on the amount of spending outside the programme area.
Can you confirm that Scotland (not UK) has been excluded from the new program?
Yes. In 2019, the UK government announced the decision not to participate in Interreg programmes in the new programme period and unless this decision is changed Scotland is sadly not part of the programme.
As a French partner, can we be the leader of a project?
Yes – partners located within the French regions of Bretagne, Normandie, and Hauts-de-France are eligible to act as lead partner of North Sea projects. You can find more information about the programme geography here.
What is the minimum number of participating countries or partners that must be represented in a project?
Every partnership must include at least 2 partners from 2 different countries. In the current programme, there is no lower or upper limit to the number of partners; the average number of partners per project is 13, and the range is 6 to 28. Projects should have a positive effect on a large part of the programme area, so only meeting the minimum requirements will generally be a weakness.
Will a matchmaking platform be set up apart from the upcoming pitching sessions to foster partnership building?
The joint secretariat has commissioned the creation of a new website for the next programme period. A project partnership building platform will be part of this development. It is unclear when this will be ready, but it is targeted for some time in Q4 of this year. In addition, the secretariat will hold further pitching and networking sessions after the summer holidays. In the mean time keep.eu also has a partner search function for all Interreg programmes.
Can all types of organisations, companies, authorities take the role of lead partner? Are there specific expectations on this?
There are no legal limits on which type of organisation may play the role of lead partner. In the current programme period, a lead partner cannot, as a rule, be a private sector partner. Universities, trusts, foundations and similar organisations are exempt from this general rule. However, whether the same programme rule will be applied in the next period is up for discussion.