There exists an interesting initiative of Hungarian IT companies in the field encouraging FP6 participation, which can serve as an example of how genuine sharing of information and expertise can benefit both information provider and receiver. Some 15-20 companies came together in December 2004, that were all interested in joining EU funded R&D projects within the framework of the FP6 program. Most of these were SME-s, some associations and some university research centers. Some of them already had experience in participating in EU funded projects while others came only to learn how to do this.
The main driving force behind the initiative was the willingness to participate in call 4 of the FP6 IST program. Since most of these companies came from the infocommunications sector, it was quite natural, that one of the associations – IVSZ, the Hungarian Association of IT Companies – gave home to the group. After the first meeting of the group members it became obvious that there are a number of activities that can contribute to their success in getting into FP6 proposals and projects.
Internal activities included information sharing at regular meetings and discussions about FP6 in general and about the concrete strategic objectives in call 4 and 5, inviting experts to hold seminars about different aspects of FP6 projects, creating competency matrices of members and share partnersearch information. In order to facilitate communication, a mailing list was also set up. These activities were already benefitial, however, it turned out soon, that more can be done with the momentum of the group being far greater than that of the same number of companies individually.
External activities started as well, such as publicising the group and its members at international FP6 events, creating and distributing a brochure with group member information, contacting Specific Support Action projects in Hungary, contacting European Commission officials and informing them about this initiative, and even lobbying at the Hungarian government bodies to get financial support for the preparatory works of project proposals.
The initiation turned out to be a success. As a result of all these efforts during the first half of 2005, Hungarian participation in FP6 IST call 4 and call 5 increased considerably. Some 9-10 of the 16-18 members of the group did actually participate in proposals and even those who did not participate learned much about future opportunities.
Lately the group has been more in a dormant position, though the mailing list is still an active list and many opportunities are being posted from time to time. The group dynamics seems to be in correlation with the availability of open calls and with the end of FP6 group members will probably wait till more will be known about FP7 in order to become active again.
In summary, we have seen a very good national initiative that proved the power of a cooperating network of organisations. This initiative will hopefully continue when new perspectives of the 7th Framework Program open up.