https://innovateuk.blog.gov.uk/2016/08/03/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-horizon-2020-national-contact-point/

A day in the life of a Horizon 2020 National Contact Point

Well, two weeks…

You couldn’t get two more varied weeks in my calendar and they are not planned that way.

As UK National Contact Points (NCPs), we are at the mercy of the invitations we get to meetings or events to provide information on how to access research and innovation funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.

View of Earth from space

Importance of NCP network

The first week started with a NCP teleconference. Having an internal NCP network is really important as there are many issues we face that are unique to the NCPs. Keeping in regular contact to discuss problems and share ideas is essential to keep us all informed and equipped to do our jobs.

There are also many areas where there is complementarity with other NCPs. For example, during this week I worked with Jane Watkins, the SME NCP to swop comments on a proposal we both pre-screened for a space company applying to the SME Instrument.

Events to promote H2020 opportunities

Promotion of the opportunities for companies and research organisations in H2020 is a big part of what NCPs do, and the week continued organising two events.

The first will be the main information day for publicising the 2017 space calls, which the KTN has offered to fund and organise. This event will keep me busy over the next couple of months but the good news is that I’ve already secured speakers from the European Commission and the European GNSS Agency.

The second event is working with the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence and part of my discussion with Catherine Johns, the Innovation and Business Growth Director, was how we can work together to support SMEs in the region.

Following the EU referendum, it is more important than ever that NCPs take every opportunity to explain to interested businesses and organisations how the lead up to Brexit may affect the H2020 landscape for the UK.

Coordinating with sector colleagues 

After a relatively quiet first week, the second week was a complete contrast and I only got to sleep in my own bed once!

Monday saw me travelling down to Swindon for a space team meeting. I also got to meet our CEO, Ruth McKernan, for the first time at her birthday breakfast.

Learning from NCPs from other European countries

It is then time to head back North to prepare for my whistle-stop visit to Cyprus.

Many of the NCPs are part of H2020 funded projects that connect all the NCPs across Europe, meaning we get to experience first hand some of the applications associated with EU funding.

I am a partner in a project called COSMOS 2020 and a best practice workshop was being hosted by the Cypriot NCP in Nicosia. These events are a great opportunity to catch up with NCP colleagues and see the quality and breadth of support on offer. Several countries provide funding for proposal preparation and the different styles of training and workshops that NCPs offer gave me food for thought.

Preparing space European Engagement Plan

For my final appointment of the week it was off to a UK Space Euro Affairs Group, which is a mix of industry and government representatives.

As a group we are working on a European Engagement Plan for the space sector, and my responsibilities lie with the EU funding actions.

At the moment this is focused on trying to maximise the number of UK relevant topics in the 2018-2020 H2020 space calls.

Together with a colleague at the UK Space Agency we ran a sector wide consultation, which provided input into the UK position paper submitted to the European Commission.

These calls may seem like a long way off but with draft work programmes coming out early next year, it is good to be prepared early.

It has been a busy week and lots of actions to follow up but meeting up with new and familiar faces is the best part of my job. With no two weeks the same, an NCPs life is never boring and I challenge anyone to say they have a more varied work diary than me or my NCP colleagues.

Follow me on Twitter: @UKSpaceNCP

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