CERCIRAS Action is happy to announce a Call for Virtual Networking Support (VNS) Grant that is now running as a pilot for the current grant period until 31 October 2021 https://www.cost.eu/cost-actions/cost-actions-networking-tools/.
Virtual Networking Support (VNS) Grants is a Networking Tool aimed promoting a virtual collaboration in conditions when face-to-face contact is not necessary or possible, and as a support for ongoing Action activities with the final goal of their synchronization and integration into smooth processes. This grant is aimed for creation of Virtual Networking Strategy and election of VNS Manager. Proposer of the approved VNS Strategy will be Receiver of the VNS Grant and nominated for the role of VNS Manager whose task is to implement the strategy and coordinate Virtual Mobility Grants.
All action participants with a primary affiliation to an institution located in a COST Full or Cooperating Member country or Management Committee (MC) Observers from a COST Near Neighbor Country are eligible to apply for VNS Grant.
The applicant(s) shall be prepared to develop a virtual networking strategy, coordinate the call for expression of interest for the Virtual Mobility Grants and draft at the end of the grant period a report to be approved by the MC.
The applicants for the VNS Grant is expected to have acquired:
- Advanced virtual networking skills for development a virtual networking strategy,
- Experience in virtual networking and online coordination of teams,
- Managerial skills for coordination of the call for VNM Grant,
- Experience with supporting ITC technologies for implementation of VNS Strategy,
- Experience in coordination of diverse teams,
- Experience in team coordination in international setups,
- Capacity to promote equality and inclusiveness through virtual space, and
- Capacity to promote creativity and motivation in virtual space.
Accordingly, it is expected that the successful applicant will be able to integrate all above skills towards the active, progressive, and inclusive virtual networking.
The maximal amount of awarded grant is EUR 4,000. The grant may be awarded only once in a Grant Period to a single grantee and cannot be split among multiple grantees.
The grant does not necessarily cover all expenses related to undertaking the virtual networking coordination role.
The COST Association and the Grant Holder of the Action cannot be considered as being the grantee’s employer who shall make their own arrangements for all provisions related to personal security, health, taxation, social security, and pension matters. The grantee must also ensure they have the required technical material/equipment and infrastructure to carry out the activities proposed in their application to the grant
Process and Dates
VNT granting process is described in the VNT User Guide https://www.cost.eu/uploads/2021/04/VNT-userguide.pdf. Dates (AoE time) relevant to the process are the following ones:
- September 27, 2021 Application deadline
- September 30, 2021 Evaluation and selection deadline
- October 31, 2021 End of Grant Period and implementation deadline
- November 15, 2021 Report deadline
- November 30, 2021 Report approval and grant payment deadline
The application shall be submitted through the e-COST following the VNS Application Template www.cost.eu/virtual_networking_support_grant_application as described in the VNT User Guide.
Evaluation and selection
The evaluation of each submitted VNS grant application is performed by the Action’s Core Group, based on the mandate given by the Action’s MC. The selection of successful grantee shall be based on contributions to the overall objectives of the Action and the implementation of the COST Excellence and Inclusiveness Policy.
In particular, the selected strategy, among others, should be directed to:
- Include participants from all domains, sectors, and regions targeted by the Action
- Include participants from all career stages and genders
- Target audience from all from all domains, sectors, and regions
- Target audience from at all career stages and genders
- Trigger a better collaboration among domain, sectors and regions
- Trigger a balanced collaboration among participants from different career stages
- Motivate an active participation of all genders
Only application submitted before the defined deadline will be considered for the evaluation and selection.
The successful applicant shall take the Virtual Networking Support (VNS) Manager role in the COST Action.
The activities expected to be performed by the successful applicant, but not limited to, are:
- Prepare and distribute among the MC members of the Action and the COST Science Officer a detailed strategy on virtual networking for the entire network,
- Support the MC in the discussions and planning of virtual events and collaboration activities.
- Assist in the selection of hosts for the virtual networking events and collaboration activities.
- Assist the selected hosts in preparation and coordination of online events and collaboration activities (including the analysis of technical needs).
- Oversee the selection of the most appropriate virtual tools for each specific virtual activity (webinar, virtual conference, online library containing learning material for use by the Action members)
- considering the needs of the Action and the activities (need for sub-groups, forums, etc.), demonstrate the principle of best value for money, adhere to GDPR requirements.
- Support the call, evaluation process, and coordination of the Virtual Mobility
Finally, It is expected that the VNS Manager will guide VNT Grants towards the implementation of the approved VNS Strategy and the Action Goals in general.
The grantee will submit a report to the Action Chair and to the Science Officer according to the VNS Report Template http://www.cost.eu/virtual_networking_support_grant_report and following the process described in the VNT User Guide https://www.cost.eu/uploads/2021/04/VNT-userguide.pdf.
The report shall consider only virtual activities carried out in their entirety before October 31, 2021.
Failure to submit the report before the defined deadline may result in cancelation of the awarded Grant.
All additional information is provided in:
- COST Vademecum https://www.cost.eu/uploads/2021/06/Vademecum-V9-28-April-20212-1.pdf
- VNT User Guide https://www.cost.eu/uploads/2021/04/VNT-userguide.pdf
In case of contradiction between the current call and the official documents generated by the COST Association, the official COST documents are considered to have higher relevance.