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Interview of EC officers regarding Level 0 projects

EC officers Remy Denos and Dietrich Knoerzer offered an interview to EASN, aiming to inform about the new instrument to be introduced in the 2012 call for proposals, namely the Level 0 projects.

Q: The EC has announced a new instrument for the 5th FP7 call, namely the Level 0 projects, which are expected to cover the "Pioneering the air transport of the future" Activity. What are the main differences between the well known Level 1 and the new Level 0 projects?

A: Level 0 topics are located upstream of Level 1 in the technology readiness levels. It comprises the research and development of highly innovative and breakthrough technologies and concepts, which need a first maturation before they can be developed at larger scale, within larger consortia and larger financial resources (for example in a Level 1 project).

In order to provide more agility and flexibility to the process, this will be implemented by means of a specific open call for proposals. In the call text, recommendations are made for a limitation of the number of partners (up to 7), a short duration (24 months) and an adapted budget with an EU contribution limited to 600000 Euro, i.e. the proposed project should be much more compact in all aspects than a typical Level 1 project. Also, page limitations are prescribed in the call for the proposal.

Q: Level 1 projects cover research and technology development activities that span from basic research to the validation of concepts at component or sub-system level. Which is the gap aiming to be filled with the Level 0 projects?

A: In many cases, Level 1 projects are performing applied research; that means they take technologies and concepts that are already existing and mature them. Level 0 projects call for breakthrough and innovative technologies and concepts for a first maturation (the principles could be existing in other domains, but then it would be the first time that this would be applied in the field of aeronautics and air transport). So we are at the source of the process.

Q: In which ways is it expected that this new instrument will facilitate pioneering and innovative upstream research?

First, it is a separate call from the main call for proposals for Level 1 and Level 2. So these proposals, which require some specific attention, will not compete with the larger Level 1 proposals. Innovative upstream research and pioneering aspects are two of the conditions to satisfy for a proposal to be in scope. Level 0 is seeking to provide the needed level of flexibility that one may not always find in larger Level 1 project, where the large number of partners calls for a strong organizational frame.

Q: There is often a doubt whether new technologies may be considered as breakthrough or not. In your opinion, is a clear distinction possible? What are the consequences if a proposal is submitted as Level 0 but is not considered by the reviewers as being breakthrough?

It is indeed to the proposers to demonstrate to the evaluators the novelty of the proposed technology or concept or possibly to the radical new approach to the proof of concept that will give new chances compared to previous attempts. Also, the pioneering aspect must be taken into account i.e. we are looking for applications in the second half of this century. If the proposed technology and concept is well known from the community with possible applications in 20-30 years, then the proposal is likely to perform poorly when evaluators are asked to evaluate the relevance to the Level 0 topic.

Q: What is expected to be the contribution of the European Academia to Level 0 research?

Academia and research centres are often the places where such innovative ideas and concepts emerge; so these communities have certainly an important role to play in Level 0 research.

Date posted: July 1, 2011, 1:59 pm

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