The European Commission has announced the latest funding call (call 7) in the ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP), offering up to €125.7m in new funding for digital projects across Europe. Of this, €36m is allocated to a strand which directly addresses the digital work of museums, archives, libraries and creative media organisations.
The ICT Policy Support Programme is a key funding programme in the Digital Agenda for Europe. Its objective is to stimulate smart, sustainable and inclusive growth by promoting the use of digital technology by European businesses and citizens.
Previous calls have enabled hundreds of cultural organisations across Europe to digitise their collections, build their digital capacity and participate in Europeana. In the UK, the Collections Trust is responsible for leading some €15m of digital projects funded under this and related programmes, and the European Commission has asked us to ensure wider participation by UK museums, archives and libraries.
Navigating European funding documents can be complex, so we have provided the following article to help you understand the potential opportunities under ICT PSP for your organisation. If you would prefer to skip this and go directly to the call document, use the link below:
(we recommend you start with the document 'ICT PSP Work Programme'!)
Who can apply?
ICT PSP is open to legally-constituted companies and organisations based in European Member States. Applicants can include companies (SME), charitable and community organisations and public bodies. Definitions of eligibility are provided in the call materials, but in general terms, the majority of existing enterprises are likely to meet the criteria.
What does ICT PSP cover?
ICT PSP is structured around a Work Programme - a set of priorities which have been agreed by the European Commission. This Work Programme is divided into a series of strands, each of which supports a different area of need or priority. The 5 strands of this funding call are:
- Cloud of public services and smart cities
- Digital content, open data and creativity
- ICT for health, ageing well and inclusion
- Trusted eServices
- Open objective for innovation and other actions
Although technically all strands are open to cultural organisations, the Collections Trust will be focussing on Strand 2. Digital Content, open data and creativity.
What opportunities are there under Strand 2?
The following table shows what the funding opportunities are under Strand 2 of this funding call:
|Priority Action||Funding type||Value (€m)|
|Europeana and creativity||Best practice Nework/
|Open data||Pilot B/Thematic Network||8|
|ICT for learning||Pilot B/Thematic Network||6|
|Digital content technologies for a better internet for kids||Pilot B||3|
|eArchiving services||Pilot B||3|
How to get involved
For any organisation considering Europe as a potential funding source for their digital project, there are two main options:
- Become the Coordinator of a project proposal - which means leading the development of the consortium, creating the bid and managing it through the submission and (if successful) negotiation process, OR;
- Become a participant in a consortium that already exists (or is being formed specifically for this call)
In either case, it is important to be aware that this funding is designed around the European Commission's Work Programme, not the needs of your organisation. You should always consider whether and how participating in a funded project will enable you to achieve your own objectives.
If you would like to explore the opportunities further, go to the European Commission ICT PSP web page and download the Call documentation.
Work with the Collections Trust
The Collections Trust has an excellent reputation as the coordinator of EU funding bids and projects. We are currently responsible for several concurrent programmes, and enjoy a great network across Europe.
We aim to lead two consortia in proposals for the ICT PSP Call 7 and are interested in hearing from UK organisations interested in the following:
- Food, drink and domestic history
- Data, metrics and web statistics
- Your name and contact details
- The ICT PSP strand you are interested in
- A summary of your interest/proposal
- Whether you have participated in an EU-funded project before
Does the ICT PSP fund Digitisation?
In a word - 'no'. The European Commission tends to regard the funding of digitisation as a priority for Member State Governments, and so the work programme focusses almost exclusively on making more active use of existing digitised material - mostly through aggregation (into platforms like the Culture Grid and Europeana), metadata-enhancement and the development of innovative applications.
We know that the absence of a current large-scale digitisation programme in the UK makes this problematic. The Europeana Foundation has agreed to ask the European Commission to put pressure on Member State Governments (including the UK Government) to support the costs of digitisation of cultural heritage, but for the time being the Department for Culture, Media and Sport regards digitisation as an arms-length activity to be supported by individual organisations.
The key benefits of the ICT PSP are (a) in providing funding support to improve and enhance the metadata, keywording, classification and accessibility of your data and (b) in supporting the costs of opening up your digital collections to services such as Europeana, which can expose them to a wider European audience.
What do the 'Funding Types' mean?
The European Commission uses different funding models to support different kinds of work. These models affect what you can bid for, how you will work and who you can work with, so it is worth familiarising yourself with this information (note that we have only described the ones that are relevant to this call!):
- A Pilot B project is intended to develop and test a digital platform or service. For the ICT PSP projects, Pilot B projects can last between 24 to 36 months, during which time, the pilot platform has to be available for at least 6 months. These projects need at least 4 mutually-independent legal entites from at least 4 EU Member States to be eligible. Pilot B projects can usually reclaim up to 50% of their 'eligible costs' - such as personnel, subcontracting, direct costs and overheads.
- A Best Practice Network is a type of project which depends on a (usually pre-existing) network of 7 or more mutually-independent legal entities working together to develop, share and promote best practice in a particular discipline. Participants can usually apply for reimbursement of up to 80% of their eligible costs - which include personnel, subcontracting and direct costs such as travel (but not usually overheads).
- A Thematic Network is a type of project that brings together a network of people to address a specific theme or action from the Work Programme. The work of a Thematic Network is usually expected to be supported for between 18 and 36 months, after which they are expected to be self-sustaining without further support from the Commission. Thematic Networks are also obliged to be open to new members during the period of their operation, to expand their knowledge and impact. They are required to have a core consortium of at least 7 mutually-independent legal entities, and the costs that can be covered are usually allocated on a per-partner basis.