Radboud University

HorizonEuropeStories: Significance of EU funding for the interdisciplinary impactful research at the Nijmegen School of Management as told by Rudie Trienes, Director of Research and Jan-Kees Helderman, Vice-Dean for Research

Date of news: 17 November 2021

Within the Radboud University Support Programme EU, a joint initiative of grant advisors from the University and Radboudumc, we are promoting biweekly Horizon Europe stories from researchers, directors and grant support experts who benefitted from the Programme and can share their experience and tips with you.

Today’s story is by Rudie Trienes, Director of Research and Jan-Kees Helderman, Vice-Dean for Research at the Nijmegen School of Management.

  • Why do you think EU funding is important for your faculty? What are the ambitions of the Nijmegen School of Management in terms of Horizon Europe participation?

Rudie Trienes: for our faculty international visibility is very important - we take EU projects as one of the stepping stones towards international visibility. Our faculty is extremely well-positioned in that it can be a sort of of “brokerage” faculty between other disciplines and other faculties. To some extent we see ourselves as the “glue” between disciplines. That is why working together on EU collaborative projects is one of the very good ways to go forward.

For our faculty it is also important to do interdisciplinary research, which is very much focused on societal impact. All the problems that the European Commission has put on the agenda are interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary and are aimed to solve huge societal problems. And these are exactly the topics, like democracy and populism, the refugee crisis, biodiversity, energy transition and  the responsible governance of these issues, that are in the heart of our faculty.

We are extremely well-positioned to engage in Horizon Europe projects and we try as much as we can to encourage researchers to get involved in the applications.

Jan-Kees Helderman: the mission of our faculty and Institutes is ‘responsible governance for sustainable societies’ and that requires interdisciplinary research with the focus on impact. The knowledge and disciplines that we cover are important within many aspects on the Horizon Europe agenda. Being a scholar in Public Administration, I see Europe as the supranational level to which we all belong. Therefore, there is no much different between the national and the European research agendas. What I like about Horizon Europe and NWA agenda is that they are about the societal relevant issues; if you as a the researcher, want to have impact, these are the agendas to look into and the calls to apply for.

  • What kind of grant support or any other kind of stimulation is available at the faculty level for Radboud researchers for their grant applications? What are your tips and suggestions on how to make the best use of the support available, including the Radboud University Support Programme EU?

Jan-Kees Helderman: I would like to stress the importance of having a high quality support staff. We have high quality support and trained people and we are also forming a new team. There is of course a difference between individual and collaborative grants. As the Vice Dean of Research I emphasize the enormous importance of having high quality support both on the central and faculty level and a lot of collaboration between these two levels.

Rudie Trienes: I would like to add a few words about the Radboud Support Programme  EU. Our Faculty has been involved in it from the very outset, helping to set the Programme up, and we are also involved in the actual execution of the Programme. I think  it is important that we work together across the whole university in order to have good proposals in these highly competitive calls. Therefore, it’s essential that all grant support experts work together, share their ideas, learn from each other and involve researchers from various faculties. For most of the calls the researchers from different faculties have to collaborate and the grant support team has to collaborate too. It is an ideal way to go forward to boost the participation of Radboud University in Horizon Europe.

On top of that, apart from dedicated support staff, at our faculty we have a number of schemes to support the researchers applying for these complicated grants. We have the Grants Development Scheme which enables researchers to get some money to buy hours so they can dedicate more time to proposal writing. We have the Matching Scheme – if your PhD is not fully financially supported, we match the remainder. We also have the Excellence Scheme – in the unlikely event that your proposal is rejected but received very high marks, the faculty is willing to give a PhD, Postdoc or the equivalence in money for other research projects. Usually this also serves as the motivation for researchers to take the proposal to another call round.

  • Could you tell about any success stories in H2020 or visibility of research at the faculty that is relevant on the EU-wide level? What are you strong topics of interest?

Rudie Trienes: What strikes me when I look at our research is that it exactly fits the calls of Horizon Europe and H2020 because of its societal impact. I’m talking about disciplines and topics like populism, democracy, energy transition, biodiversity, climate change, governance, European law. Researchers at our faculty are visible as they are quite often asked to be partners in consortia led by other European universities. To a more limited extend we try to coordinate projects ourselves. In the first rounds of Horizon Europe calls we are going to submit three or four projects as coordinators and there is quite a number of projects in which we participate as beneficiaries. We are very visible within Horizon Europe and on the international level but, of course, there is always a room for improvement.

We encourage our researchers to engage more in Horizon Europe projects.

Jan-Kees Helderman: becoming a member of a consortium is always challenging and the hurdles are there. For example, teaching still takes a lot of time from our academic staff although we aim to bring the time available for teaching and research more in balance. Being a member of a consortium is a challenge in itself. It’s probably easier to start with being a partner than directly be the main applicant and to start at the national level and then bring it to the European level. Although this also depends on the topic and the call.  In the end, what matters is that working with colleagues from other universities, disciplines and countries on societal relevant issues and questions is what makes our work meaningful, satisfying and nice!

Need support with your proposal? Contact: collaborate@ru.nl; https://www.radboudnet.nl/grantsupport/