Policy on external projects
- 1 NeIC Policy on Externally Funded Projects
- 1.1 BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
- 1.2 KEY PRINCIPLES
- 1.2.1 1. The project should support the NeIC strategy
- 1.2.2 2. The project should be 100% externally funded
- 1.2.3 3. The project should be implemented and managed as a natural component of the NeIC portfolio of activities
- 1.2.4 4. A mechanism to resolve possible conflicts of interest should be put in place
- 1.3 ROLES
- 1.4 Links
NeIC Policy on Externally Funded Projects
BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
NeIC is a unit of NordForsk, as established through an MoU between NordForsk and national research funding agencies from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The responsibility for strategy and budget allocation is delegated by NordForsk to the NeIC Board. The NeIC Board is composed of representatives from national e-infrastructure organisations, one from each country, with Estonia as observer (as per 2019).
The NeIC vision for 2025 is to be a global role model for cross-border distributed and sustainable e-infrastructure collaborations. There are four components of the NeIC 2020-2025 strategy:
- Beneficial collaborations are the principal way that NeIC brings together the needs, interests and resources to create e-infrastructure to support research excellence in the Nordic region.
- Nordic Influence is the effect that NeIC has in improving and advancing e-infrastructure for researchers and for society.
- Motivated People are essential in the collaborations and to bring the results into the research domains and society.
- Effective processes bind NeIC into an organization that is able to realize the benefits and influences that come from the collaborations.
The core funding of NeIC has since 2012 been composed of the following core components
- National memberships, usually stemming from national research funding organisations and granted through national e-infrastructure provider organisations
- Nordic collaboration funding allocated from the NordForsk budget.
- National co-funding from partners participating in NeIC projects.
In 2019, NeIC was awarded funding for 2019-22 to the EOSC-Nordic project from EC Horizon 2020. The project consolidates and extends Nordic e-infrastructure collaboration by engaging 24 partners across the Nordic-Baltic region in an effort to support the European Open Science Cloud.
NeIC’s ability to attract external funding supports the vision of NeIC as a global role model and is an indicator of our international position. Externally funded projects may increase Nordic influence and may bring impacts to research at a broader scale, perhaps also contributing to ethical, societal and sustainability goals.
In addition to direct grants from the EC, future external funding could include other direct funding sources, or philanthropic and not-for-profit organizations. Whatever the source, funding should be in accordance with the strategy and core values of NeIC and not compromise the independence or impartiality of the organization.
In the context of the EC call that led to the EOSC-Nordic grant, the board discussed four principles for applying for externally funded projects (see Board Minutes 20. June, 2018, Item 18-24). The policy described in this document is an elaboration of these principles, but also has a new section describing roles related to external funding opportunities. Strategic funding partnerships, such as Nordic or international joint programming initiatives are not covered in this document but should be subject to further Board level discussions.
1. The project should support the NeIC strategy
The project is expected to be aligned with the strategy of NeIC without compromising the real or perceived independence or impartiality of the organization. The project should enhance the visibility of NeIC as a role model and have a potential to create societal, ethical and sustainability impacts.
The project should be expected to either strengthen existing initiatives or to broaden the scope of NeIC without compromising current NeIC projects and/or other internally funded activities. Externally funded projects should offer Nordic added value, rather than marginal value to only a few partners.
After the termination of an external project, an analysis of the contribution to NeIC’s strategic goals should be presented to the Board.
2. The project should be 100% externally funded
The project should not drain resources from NeIC’s current funding structure. Additional activities must not impact ongoing coordination initiatives and staff responsibilities and therefore should not result in increased costs to the organization beyond those received from the external grant support. If such a case arises, and NeIC core funding is needed to finance NeIC’s efforts, these costs need to be justified in accordance with NeIC’s strategic goals. In exceptional circumstances the Board may agree to contribute core resources to an externally funded project, where a core contribution is a condition of external funding and the project will add value to NeIC’s ongoing activities.
Funds from external projects will be used for their specific purpose and need to be kept in a separate budget line.
3. The project should be implemented and managed as a natural component of the NeIC portfolio of activities
The main role of NeIC is to facilitate e-infrastructure collaboration, to offer collaboration infrastructure and collaboration services. Structured project portfolio management ensures efficient progress towards high-quality outcomes. As far as possible, each externally funded project should be integrated in the project portfolio as yet another initiative that can enrich the collaboration. A benefits management plan should be developed and implemented as part of the project work.
The natural/typical role for NeIC in externally funded projects is as a high-level coordinator and project owner. This may call for a formal role of NeIC’s legal entity NordForsk, possibly requiring that certain administrative functions are covered by NordForsk employees. Only in exceptional cases will technical functions be covered by NordForsk employees.
Implementation according to core values, see https://wiki.neic.no/wiki/NeIC_Community_Wiki#Core_values.
4. A mechanism to resolve possible conflicts of interest should be put in place
When applying for external funding support, NeIC may risk competing with Board members, the organizations they represent, or with other current or potential partner organizations. This potential source of conflict and real or perceived conflict of interest should be considered and addressed through whatever means that fit the particular circumstance. A possible measure may be to participate as a partner or consultant rather than being the main coordinator/principal investigator. If coordinator or principal investigator is the appropriate role, external advice may be consulted to deal with possible sources of conflict. In the case that technical expertise is offered to a project through NordForsk (or NeIC central office) NeIC’s technical expert role will not impact or inappropriately influence its coordinating (collaborating) activities.
Role of NeIC Director and Executive Team
The Director leads the Executive Team and no distinction will be made in the following between these two entities. The Director collects information about opportunities for participation in external projects, and may proactively identify such opportunities. Board members and partners with an interest in having NeIC involved in a given external project should communicate their interest to the Director. In charting external funding opportunities the Director must be mindful of the costs, benefits and risks of such activities. These points should be considered when requesting approval from the NeIC Board in pursuing upcoming initiatives and activities. The Director will provide a plan and a procedure to manage both NeIC core activities and activities in external projects and each additional external project. The Director must ensure to have sufficient resources (time, space, funds) for taking part in a new project. Involvement in seeking and executing external projects (grant writing, matching funds) should not be at the cost of NeIC core activities unless approved by the Board.
The NeIC Director will ensure external funding streams are kept separate from NeIC’s core activities. NeIC should take part in the project with a focus on delivering brokerage and sharing within the project consortium and towards the broader Nordic e-infrastructure community.
Role of NeIC Board
The NeIC Board decides on participation in external projects and offers advice on funding opportunities and preparatory efforts.
Role of NeIC Partners
NeIC partners that have the relevant expertise and wish to take part in a project led or coordinated by NeIC may receive project funding. Where partners are competing for the same objective, NeIC XT will offer the same level of support and resource to each member state.