Innovator in the Spotlight

Ayda Golahmadi EngD trainee Smart Cities and Buildings

Improving indoor air quality in schools in the Netherlands

My research is focused on improving indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools in the Netherlands as part of the ECOS-IAQ project.

FAQ – general

What are the points of attention in applying for an Eindhoven Engine OpenCall?

Apart from having an innovative idea and a vision of how that can benefit from the co-location and student involvement that Eindhoven Engine offers, a consortium must be formed comprising at least two partners, one of which is a company. Moreover, the funding of the base project needs to be in place whereby the Eindhoven Engine can provide added benefit through the project extension (“the cherry on the cake”). This base funding is called “co-financing” and needs to be demonstrable by means of formal documents (e.g. a letter of commitment or a Grant Agreement)

Why might I experience stress before the deadlines of the Eindhoven Engine OpenCall?

Experience shows that many people preparing a project proposal underestimate the effort it takes to form a consortium, to formulate a convincing project proposal and to obtain all the necessary signatures in time. The final step especially requires attention as early as possible as managers tend to want a decent explanation before signing. To help you in this process, there is the notification deadline before which a “Notification Form” needs to be provided. This is a prerequisite for the actual proposal submission. So remember: “no application without notification”!

What are the eligibility criteria for an application to the Eindhoven Engine OpenCall?

It only makes sense to apply to the OpenCall if there is a funded base project to which an extension within the Eindhoven Engine is being proposed. There should be an expectation of clear added value as a result of this extension, as well as the ambition to become part of the Eindhoven Engine community.

Should the partners of the consortium be located in the Brainport Eindhoven region or can they be companies or institutes in the Netherlands?

The Eindhoven Engine OpenCalls are truly open calls in the sense that these are open to everybody. However, in the published criteria, one criterion is “Positioning in the scope of the Eindhoven WhiteBook” with the explanation “How does the project contribute to the Eindhoven Engine goals as described in the WhiteBook?”. Given that the second goal in the WhiteBook is “Formed around core partners with a home base in Brainport providing team members and access to leading positions in the field of high-tech systems, enabling materials technology, data science, design and human-technology interactions”, it stands to reason that consortia with too many non-Brainport partners will be ranked lower than pure Brainport-based consortia.

What is the difference between the three types of participant?

The “coordinator” of an Eindhoven Engine project submits the main application together with the rest of the consortium, which consists of one or more “partners” and possibly also “enablers”. An enabler is a participant that will not be active in the project but that enables the participation of others by committing to the co-financing.

How does the co-location actually work? Does it have to be located in MMP building or can it be in a secondary location, e.g. the Flux building at TU/e?

Yes, the co-location must be in the MMP building on the TU/e campus. We value the under-one-roof principle very much, the proximity of using the same coffee machine is essential to have the desired interaction between the different project teams, which is one of the key elements of the Eindhoven Engine. Hence, one of the criteria is “How does the co-location operate and why does it help?”.

After reading the Eindhoven Engine OpenCall 2022, it is unclear whether this call applies to new or existing consortia.

In most cases, the co-operation within the Engine will be a continuation of existing co-operation. This is because there must be a funded base project which the requested Eindhoven Engine allowance will top up.

At this moment we have a project running with TU/e and a large industry partner on a topic that fits the description in the WhiteBook. In the event that we gain additional funding, could we add an extra demo location? Can we apply for funding of 1/7th of this project budget?

Yes, this would be possible, although your proposal will be assessed on all OpenCall criteria, including your contribution to the Eindhoven Engine Goals, the role of students and the use of co-location in MMP.

Our consortium was awarded an H2020 subsidy for our project, which covers part of the Eindhoven Engine project. Based on that project can we ask for additional funding from an Eindhoven Engine OpenCall (for instance to add extra demo locations in the City of Eindhoven)?

Yes, it is possible to use an H2020 project as the basis for co-funding. In this case, there will be foreign project partners that cannot come to the co-location. It is possible to declare them as “enablers”: participants that provide co-financing but that will not be active in the Eindhoven Engine extension of the project.

How can I provide the required evidence of co-financing?

The co-financing needs to be proven by means of formal documents. This could be a letter of commitment (“beschikking” in Dutch), grant assignment or signed Grant Agreement.

We have many partners in our H2020 project. Besides international parties we have five Dutch partners, four of whom are from the Eindhoven region. Would this consortium fit the consortium requirements?

Yes, if you define your Eindhoven Engine project to work with the local partners and explain why that strengthens the Brainport eco-system, this could work. Further, you should execute a substantial part of the project in the Eindhoven Engine building MMP on the TU/e campus and involve students (somehow).

What is the difference between a signed application form and a signed commitment letter? Why might I need both?

Every participant in an Eindhoven Engine project must be formally declared and registered through the submission of a signed application form. There are three types of forms: for coordinators, for partners and for enablers. Furthermore, co-financing must be proven by means of formal documents. This is done differently depending on the source of the funding, but it is generally some form of signed commitment letter (like a Grant Agreement).

How can the criterion of positioning in the scope of the WhiteBook be addressed?

Next to a reference to the goals as mentioned in the Eindhoven Engine WhiteBook, a reference to the themes of the Dutch Innovation Policy would strengthen the claim of societal reference (Energy & Sustainability, Agriculture, Water & Food, Health & Healthcare, Security and Key Enabling Technologies) and/or a (preferably explicit) reference to one of more of the seventeen United Nations Global Sustainability Goals.

Why is there an extra notification step?

Experience has shown that many people underestimate what it takes to translate an innovative idea into a sound proposal for the OpenCall. Establishing a consortium with whom to agree on the plan is a time-consuming process, as well as obtaining all signatures in time. By enforcing the notification of proposals in the making (four weeks in advance), we hope to enable early decision making. Moreover, it will provide early information about the number of proposals that the Eindhoven Engine office can expect, in anticipation of the proposal evaluation.

Which consistency checks should I make before submission?

Make sure that all members of the consortium have been included as a participant of the project. This means separate application forms (either coordinator, partner, or enabler) and a corresponding budget sheet. Please make sure that the amounts mentioned in the signed application form are equal to the values in the corresponding budget sheet. Furthermore, there is a checklist in the last chapter of the Work Plan document.

Why do I need to specify the team size table in the project plan?

In chapter 4 of the project plan template the consortium overview is asked for by means of a table of the project team. For each role from each partner the resource level is asked for (the number of people working on it, both from the base project and in the additional EhvEngine extension (and the sum of those two).

What is the different between FTE and PY?

Experience shows that many people confuse the team size in FTE (full-time equivalent) with effort levels expressed in person-years (PY). The team-size (resource level) corresponds to the yearly effort level, but the effort level grows with the duration of the project. After all, effort level = resource level * duration (for example: 3 FTE * 2 year = 6 PY).