Session 2: Impacts at Project Level

Session 2: Impacts at Project Level

Moderator: Angus Hunter, Optimat


By the middle of 2015, around 4500 transnational projects had been funded by the P2P networks representing a combined investment of some Euro 5 billion. The 2016 ERA-LEARN Annual Report indicates that the volume has now increased to over 5000 projects. But what is the impact of this huge investment? The simple answer is that no one knows but the question is becoming increasingly important to the future sustainability of both national and EU funding for P2P actions.
Most of the networks, and/or the national funding organisations, have some form of monitoring system for the projects that are spawned from Joint Calls but assessment of their economic, societal and/or environmental impacts is less common. A reference library has been established on the ERA-LEARN 2020 platform and this will be expanded as more examples become available. They offer valuable learning materials for those who are planning to assess the impact of current and future projects. Two observations can be made from these reports:

  1. Whilst there are some common features, the approaches and terminology are quite varied
  2. The lead time from the ‘Joint Call closure date to impact’ is at least five years 

Some of the case study reports on impact that have been published this year are based on Joint Calls that closed in 2008/9. After the call closes, there can be quite an elongated period before contracts are concluded and then the projects have to run their course (typically three years).
One of the aims of the ERA-LEARN 2020 project is therefore to help the P2P networks, and associated national funding organisations, gather better evidence on the impacts of the funded projects. Information on these projects is now being collected as part of the ongoing P2P monitoring activities and the functionality to collect, and report, impact assessment data can easily be added.
ERA-LEARN 2020 will develop a strategy for full-scale implementation of project level impact assessment by June 2017. The first step was a stakeholder workshop held in May 2016 with a group of individuals from different networks with a common interest in project-level impact assessment. This confirmed the hypothesis that a common framework was needed and highlighted a clear preference for the data collection to be carried out in partnership with the networks.
Since then, a proposed common framework (set of survey questions) has been under development. The next stage is to test the proposed common framework on a wider audience of P2P stakeholders and then pilot with some networks.

The aim of the workshop is therefore as follows:

  1. Introduce the concept of a centralised process for systematic collection of project-level evidence of impact and the proposed common framework
  2. Provide some examples of the current state-of-the-art amongst those that have experience of project-level impact assessment
  3. Identify the main issues that will need to be addressed to enable a centralised data collection and reporting process to become a reality

Workshop Structure
The workshop will commence with some introductory presentations on the current status of the ERA-LEARN 2020 Task on ‘Impact Assessment of EU co-funded projects’ followed by several case study presentations from both networks and national funding organisations. This will be followed by a panel discussion, based on some guiding questions, and then an open discussion with the audience.  The outline agenda will be:

16:00 – 16:15     Introduction to the ERA-LEARN 2020 Task to explore the feasibility of centralised project-level impact assessment (Angus Hunter, Optimat)

16:15 – 17:00     Case study examples of the current state-of-the-art including:

17:00 – 17.30      Panel discussion involving the speakers and several from the audience that have some experience of impact assessment at the project level (or are planning such assessments). They will be asked to respond to the following key issues/questions for centralised impact assessment:

  • What would be the benefits of the proposed common framework for the P2P networks?
  • How could it work with (or for) their network?
  • Could ERA-LEARN offer addition value added by providing data management functionality and/or benchmarking information?

17.30 – 18.00      Open Q&A discussion with the audience 

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