OSCARS brings together world-class European Research Infrastructures (RIs) in the ESFRI roadmap and beyond to foster the uptake of Open Science in Europe.
Such RIs are part of the five Science Clusters (Humanities and Social Sciences, Life Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Photon and Neutron Science, Astronomy, Nuclear and Particle Physics), which have strived to make open data easily accessible to the users and the public, by providing FAIR data management policies and practices for enabling Open Science.
Today, the Science Clusters are an integral part of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) initiative and, through OSCARS, will further contribute to its development and implementation process.
OSCARS aims to further consolidate past achievements of the Science Clusters into lasting interdisciplinary FAIR data services and working practices.
Through a cascading grant mechanism, a broad range of research communities will be involved for the development of new, innovative Open Science projects, that together will drive the uptake of FAIR-data-intensive research throughout the European Research Area (ERA).
OSCARS will thus give an opportunity for inter-cluster cross-adoption and co-development of services that will be part of the EOSC Exchange portfolio.
Through OSCARS community-based Competence Centres will be established and operated, virtual research environments will be deployed fostering the alignment of practices in scientific data analysis. Both objectives will contribute to consolidate the role of the clusters as thematic "EOSC Science Cluster Nodes.
To support the research communities to take up open science and foster the involvement of scientists in EOSC, OSCARS will launch two Open Calls (in total worth about 16 million Euro) to select third-parties for the development of new, innovative Open Science projects or services, that together will drive the uptake of FAIR-data-intensive research throughout the European Research Area (ERA). Projects can be proposed in the field of any of the Science Clusters by any researcher, or group of researchers, through a cascading grant mechanism. The first Open Call will be launched in March 2024
The organisation and management of the cascading grant calls, together with the mentoring and training activities that the Science Clusters will ensure in OSCARS, participate in performing excellent science and pursuing societal benefits by leveraging an Open Research approach.
By the end of the project, it is expected that a series of valuable scientific demonstrators will be available, and will further consolidate the deployment of thematic EOSC Science Clusters Nodes in the long term.
Total funding: ~€16.4 million EUR
Funding per project: Between €100,000 to €250,000 (lump sum).
Potential maximum of funded projects: 162
Target user communities: Science Clusters and wider community (RIs, Universities, Institutes, either consortia, or individual researchers)
Open calls launch: 1st call – March 2024; 2nd call – November 2024. Both calls will stay open for 60 days.
Time for projects’ implementation: 12-to-24 months (after signature of a Third-Party Project Agreement – TPPA)
Start of the projects: Within 4 months from TPPA signature (to give organisations time to hire staff if needed)
Proposals will be evaluated by an Independent Evaluation Committee – IEC, which will be composed of top scientists, experts in FAIR data science and representatives of the European research communities. The IEC will evaluate eligible proposals that will have been submitted, rank them and propose a sample for fundin (that is expected within two months after the Open Call is closed)..
The IEC’s ranking list and funding recommendation will be forwarded to the Project Management Board – PMB, who will verify and confirm that the evaluation process has been carried out in full transparency and in accordance with EC rules.
Funding is then provided after successful conclusion of a Third-Party Project Agreement.
The consortia will request a periodic “formal communication” via the OSCARS Grants Platform (area reserved to proposing Organisations) and monitoring of progress will be performed by the Consortium.
Two months after the end of the funded projects, each project will be asked to present its results and an “Open Science direct or indirect impact assessment” in a document. They will also need to present their outcomes at the Final OSCARS Assessment Conference, to enable the EC, scientific communities, as well as the EOSC Association, to discover and select high impact projects, or projects with a high potential for further upscaling, or for inspiring new paths.
In the following, the guidelines of the OSCARS open calls for open science projects and/or services through a cascading grant mechanism are explained.
Project Implementation, Budget Breakdown and Final Deliverables (max. 20000 characters incl. spaces): Describe how the project will be implemented (steps) within the course of its duration. Also provide an indicative budget breakdown (personnel costs, travel, equipment, other...) for the requested funding. Include a table of expected results at mid-term and at the end of the project. Please pay special attention to include deliverables that guarantee a sufficient open dissemination of the project results, as well as ensure that the project will contribute to accelerate the uptake of RI and EOSC resources (data, services, policies, interoperability framework, etc.).
All digital research data generated by the project will be deposited in a trusted repository federated in the EOSC in compliance with EOSC requirements.
The applicants must commit to provide, for public dissemination, at the OSCARS final (or dedicated) event in Brussels the following deliverables:
Q: If ‘target community’ is to be read as ‘potential applicant’: how about non legal entities such as science clusters and individual researchers? How can they apply if you need a PIC code?
A: Individual researchers or a group of researchers in different countries of the EU +Associated Countries can apply with their own affiliation (a university or a research institute). A Science Cluster by itself cannot apply but it could endorse a project led by a PI and his/her affiliation, who would assume the direct responsibility of the proposed project.
Q: If ‘target community’ is something else (e.g. potential users of the envisaged results), then where do we specify who can be a ‘potential applicant’?
A: Target users are the potential applicants as well as the target audience towards whom disseminate the information of the call.
Q: Is the eligibility assessment checking admin aspects only (such as budget height, duration)?
A: Yes, including eligibility to access EU funding. However please note that third parties receiving financial support are not subject to the rules on eligibility for funding provided in Article 23 of the HE Regulation. At the same time we draw your attention to 13. General Annexes to the Work Programme 2023-2024, p. 8, which excludes entities subject to EU restrictive measures as well as legal entities established in Russia, Belarus, or in non-government controlled territories of Ukraine from receiving financial support to third parties.
Q: If not what are the other eligibility criteria?
A: One more aspect, but that could also be verified after the ranking is completed, is an endorsement for the proposed project from the Science Clusters or an ESFRI Research Infrastructure (RI). Without an accompanying letter, we would contact their references for confirmation.
Q: What are the eligibility criteria? Do the usual HE criteria apply, only participants from member states and associated countries can receive funding?
A: No, HE criteria do not apply for the Cascading Grant.
Q: Do we have to submit regular technical reports?
A: There is no formal technical report to be submitted but we request a periodic “formal communication” via the OSCARS Grants Platform (area reserved to proposing Organisations) and monitoring of progress will be performed by the Consortium. The applicants must commit to provide, for public dissemination, at the OSCARS final (or dedicated) event in Brussels the following deliverables:
Q: Do we have to submit a financial report?
A: There is no finance report required. The funding will be provided in form of a lump-sum.
Q: When will we receive the funding?
A: 85% of the total funding will be paid out at the start of the project, after signature of the Third-Party Project Agreement (TPPA). The remaining 15% will be paid after the final deliverables have been provided.
Please be aware that EC funding rules apply (see also the EC's Horizon Europe Model Grant Agreement).
Q: Will there be a contract/agreement that needs to be signed and who is signing it?
A: Yes, there will be a so-called Third-Party Project Agreement (TPPA) that sets out the details of the funding regulations. It will be signed by the coordinator of OSCARS at CNRS-LAPP and the lead organisation of the funded project.
Q: What is the maximum time to implement the funded projects and do we need to start immediately after the signature of the TPPA?
A: Project duration can be between 1 and 2 years. They need to start at the latest 4 months after the signature of the TPPA. This time is meant to be used for recruitment or other necessary preparations for the project.