Q&A GET READY! online December 2

How can we get feedback from you on a project idea?

The Joint Secretariat, in cooperation with the National Contact Points, offer online consultations to potential applicants who would like to discuss a project idea. You can sign up for a consultation here and by clicking on the link for the priority you wish to apply under. You can sign up via a doodle; before the consultation, we ask you to submit a one-page description of your project idea. The link to the form for this is on the webpage as well. An alternative to this is to contact any of the national contact points and set up a time to speak with them outside the online consultation hours. You can find their contact information here.

You mentioned that we could go for full application in one step for regular project as well?

Yes, but this is an exception for Call 1. In Call 1 you may apply at either the expression of interest (step 1) or full application (step 2) stage. This means that Call 1 full applications skip the expression of interest stage and, if successful, can begin their project once approved. From Call 2, regular project applicants MUST start with an expression of interest.

Does that mean that a more realistic start date for full applications that are successful in Call 1 would be January 2023?

If the programme is able to follow the current timeline and hold a Committee meeting in late September to make decisions on Call 1 full applications, then the approved projects can start as early as the date of approval.

If you want to submit a Full Application for call 2, must you submit an EOI by 7 march or will there be a 2nd opportunity for an EOI at the time the second call is published?

If you wish to submit a full application in Call 2, you must submit an expression of interest in Call 1 and be approved by the programme committee.

Will Call 1 proceed while the program document is not yet approved?

The draft Interreg Programme document, on which the new programme is based, has been through several drafting rounds, an informal feedback round with the European Commission, internal consultations, and is on track to be approved to go to the relevant national authorities for signature in mid-December. It will then be submitted to the European Commission in mid-January 2022. While projects cannot be funded until the programme is formally approved, we can move forward with the call for proposals and adjust the meeting date on decisions and/or the start date of projects as necessary. The decision on this is up to the programme committee. Significant changes to the document are not expected.

Will the OMS remain the same?

The Online Monitoring System, or OMS, has had a 'makeover' or set of changes and improvements to comply with the regulations and framework of the new programme. However, it is the same system as the one the programme is using for this programme period.

When can we expect the final versions of the application forms?

All application forms will be available in the OMS when Call 1 is launched mid-December. Until then, the pdf versions of the forms on the website as well as the forms in the OMS should be considered drafts. We expect only minor changes to these drafts.

Could you have a link to the first call right at start of the NSR homepage?

All information on the new programme can be found by following the '2021-27 Programme' picture at the top of the homepage. Once the Guidance Note is ready we will also make a direct link to Call 1.

Is Specific Objective 2.5 (under Priority 2) on transport of goods or only persons?

Specific Objective 2.5 is about the transport of both goods and people, primarily in urban areas.

Regarding Priority 4, do such projects emphasize more the transnational approach, and less regional pilots? And that they have still a specific technical focus?

The focus of Priority 4, presented by Joint Secretariat staff member Annemieke Feikens during the webinar, is on establishing and reinforcing long-term multi-level governance networks and mechanisms, to combine practical solutions in integrated approaches and set the stage for future projects and initiatives. In addition, Priority 4 is about supporting the capacity building of stakeholders, including citizens, to actively engage in governance processes and decision making and to participate in innovations and transitions. (See the answer to the question below as well.)

As the aim and outputs of Priority 4 is different to the other priorities, will there be separate questions for Priority 4 only?

No, the questions in the application form are the same for all priorities. However, applicants in Priority 4 do not have the option of selecting the output on 'pilot actions developed jointly and implemented in projects' that is available to projects under Priorities 1-3; nor may they choose the corresponding result 'solutions taken up or up-scaled by organisations.' This is because the focus of the priority differs from that of the other priorities (see above).

Is a strong governance and stakeholder dimension in a 3.1 project still a benefit? Or do you want a more technical only approach?

Projects whose main focus and activities are governance should apply under Priority 4. Applicants in other priorities are welcome to also include governance in their project design – however, the primary focus in the other priorities should be on pilots, demonstrations, and the testing of practical solutions to joint challenges.

Which TRL is/are expected for Research and Innovation projects?

Lower TRLs (Technology Readiness Levels) are not a priority for the programme and TRL1 (basic/fundamental research) is excluded from support, unless it is linked to higher level applied, demonstration or exploitation activities that are related to demand-driven business or societal needs. In general, the programme encourages projects to aspire to TRL5 and above.

Thematic Priority 1.1: how broad can we interpret 'public services'.. Just 'innovation' or also more 'social innovation'?

Innovation may be understood in broad terms, also with regards to challenges in public service. Transnational problems may also be addressed with social innovation under this priority specific objective.

We are currently trying to up-scale a regional funds project. Can you tell us a bit about what details and areas we should focus on to justify such a project?

The North Sea Programme welcomes applicants who wish to scale up a past or current project in another EU-funded programme and take it to a transnational level. Naturally, it must fit one of the specific objectives supported by the programme. Beyond that, however, your main focus should be on explaining why your proposed project is a good candidate for successful up-scaling, how you propose to up-scale it, and why transnational cooperation is key to achieving this aim. If you have a project idea and would like more help with this, please make an appointment for a consultation with a project advisor.


Thematic Priority 3.2... How nature-oriented can it be? When does it touch LIFE or the Rural Development Programme/CAP?

The LIFE programme/ Rural Development programme and the North Sea programme are different funding instruments. The main difference between them is that our programme focuses on the North Sea programme area. We would like to refer you to the draft Interreg Programme that can be found on our website. Several possible actions are highlighted in the document. A consultation with the Joint Secretariat should be undertaken to make sure that the idea fits into the specific objective 3.2 of the North Sea Programme.

Priority 4 develops a multi-governance approach. Will there be one full partner from each regional partnership in the Project Application?

All projects, whether small-scale or regular, must have at least three partners from three of the North Sea Programme countries. This also holds with Priority 4 projects. Priority 4 project applications will be assessed on the criteria described in Fact Sheet 18; as for all projects, the partners cooperating in the project need to make sense in the context of the project, relevant to the objectives of the work packages, and competent in the fields covered in the project.

Is there a difference between the importance of communication in the Full Projects compared to the small-scale projects?

Communication is generally considered important in both regular and small-scale projects, but the expected level of communication varies more for small-scale projects than for regular projects. The expectation is that all regular projects will ensure solid communication throughout the entire project. For small-scale projects, our expectations will depend on the exact nature of the project, including its purpose and scope. This also applies to the programme-provided project website.

It's not very clear to me how project management is expected to be handled in approved projects as there will be no more work package for this.

Project management will be handled in the same way it was handled when there was a dedicated project management work package. You will be asked to submit a report to the Joint Secretariat twice per year. In every report you will be asked to inform the Joint Secretariat how you are performing and where you are with the different aspects of project management that you have described in the application form.

Can a project partner take part in two different projects at the same time?

Yes, an organisation may participate in two (or more) approved projects.

What is the profile of the reviewers (business owners, scientists, etc.)? Are they experts in North Sea Region strategic issues? What are they doing when they are not reviewing project applications?

Interreg North Sea projects are assessed by the joint secretariat against the technical requirements set out in Fact Sheet 18. The recommendations for approval or rejection are then forwarded to the programme committee, which consists of national and regional government authority representatives from each of the North Sea countries. These representatives consult on all applications with other experts in their countries prior to voting on projects at the committee meeting. National and regional priorities, strategies, and policies are kept in mind when the committee members make their decisions.