Joint Calls | JPI OCEANS

Joint Calls

Joint calls are competitive procedures whereby bottom-up proposed projects are selected and cooperatively funded by partners within JPI Oceans. Joint calls, though not the primary aim of JPI Oceans, will form one of the standard instruments for implementing aspects of the strategic research agenda of JPI Oceans.

Design and management

JPI Oceans covers an extraordinarily broad field in terms of candidate topics for joint calls, possible participants and types of actions. Consequently, no single set of rules will fulfil the diverse needs required by joint funding actions within JPI Oceans. Most actions will be planned and prepared on a case-by-case basis, allowing for variable geometry and procedural flexibility.

Click here to expand or collapse this section

All member countries of JPI Oceans are familiar with joint call procedures through national and international programmes such as ERC, ERANET, ERANET Plus and art. 185 activities. A complete toolbox for designing and implementing joint calls can be found on the NETWATCH website.

Collaboration and governance

Joint calls require the participation of a minimum of two countries represented in JPI Oceans. They agree to jointly fund a call for proposals and act as funding partners. There is no upper limit to the number of countries who can act as funding partners of a joint call.

Click here to expand or collapse this section

To keep overhead costs and handling time at a minimum, lead agency procedures are the preferred mode for implementing joint calls. Lead agency approaches imply that one of the national bodies (usually a funding agency or ministry) takes the responsibility for implement­ting the joint call. All funding partners mandate the lead agency to carry out the joint call on behalf of themselves. The lead agency approach seems especially appropriate for joint calls within JPI's as it ensures efficiency and allows for a high degree of flexibility required by the principle of variable geometry. However, lead agency approaches require a certain degree of consistency in the procedures and funding philosophies of the funding partners and they rely on mutual trust and confidence among collaborating partners. Maximally transparent agreements between funding partners greatly facilitate the successful implementation of lead agency procedures.

The funding partners may define the principles of their collaboration by signing a memo­randum of understanding (MoU) in which they specify all important issues pertaining to the joint call, including the principles of collaboration and governance, implementation and management, monitoring and evaluation, and a description of the funding model. The Template section below contains a generalized template for such a document which can be adjusted to fit specific joint calls.

To ensure an efficient governance of the joint call, the funding partners should nominate a management committee consisting of representatives of all funding partners, which acts as temporary governing body of the joint call. The management committee assumes full responsibility for the call, overseas all procedures and takes all formal decisions, including funding decisions. The funding partners delegate these tasks and responsibilities to the management committee. The management committee remains in place until the joint call has been evaluated. The call which takes place within a predefined period after the last project has ended.

Call procedures

Before publishing the joint call, the funding partners should develop a joint vision on the topic(s) for the call and define the structure of eligible projects. The management committee may install a call preparation committee, consisting of experts in the broader field of the joint call, which advises on the content of the call.

Click here to expand or collapse this section

The call for proposals, specifying the content, procedures and timeline of the joint call has to be approved by the management committee before being published by JPI Oceans, the lead agency and all funding partners on their respective websites. All applications are directly submitted to the lead agency. Each of the funding partners provides information and assistance for applicants in their respective countries. Depending on the aims and main subjects of the call, the procedure may or may not include a pre-proposal stage.

Each eligible application will be peer-reviewed by a pre-defined number of independent, international experts (peer reviewers). The lead agency carries out the review procedure and sends the anonymous referee reports to the applicants who are given the opportunity to respond to the reports by means of a brief, written rebuttal.

The proposals, referee reports and rebuttals will be evaluated, compared and ranked by an independent evaluation panel installed by the management committee. The evaluation panel assigns unique rankings to the individual proposals. This ranking is forwarded to the management committee which will take a formal funding decision on the basis of the advice from the evaluation panel and taking into account the available budget. The projects start within a predefined period after taking the funding decision.


A joint call can also be implemented as two-step process allowing for the submission of pre-proposals and/or letters of interest. In this case, the evaluation process will also have two stages, one dealing with the pre-proposals and one devoted to the full proposals. A two-step procedure is recommended if (1) a large number of applications can be expected and (2) if the feasibility of projects should be demonstrated before submitting a full proposal. Complex calls, incl. calls with in-kind contributions, may be more likely to ask for two-step procedures than regular research funding calls.

In general, two-step procedures reduce the overall work-load for applicants, as fewer full proposals have to be written. On the other hand, two-step procedures can significantly prolong the time from first submission to granting decision.


Project monitoring and evaluation

Funded projects are administrated by national organizations (usually funding agencies) of the funding partners. Applicants are supposed to report yearly to their national agencies which forward the reports to the lead agency. The call procedure as well as the research projects will be evaluated. The management committee is responsible for these evaluation and can nominate an evaluation committee. The management committee may organize symposia to bring together representatives and researchers from funded projects. The funding partners jointly cover the costs of such meetings.

Click here to expand or collapse this section

Within the perspective of introducing flexibility while ensuring efficiency and effectiveness of results, the Parties can jointly decide to introduce an interim negotiation of the projects, in order to discuss and define budget distribution and minor activities modification. With the purpose of reaching the best results and in the more efficient ways, a re-negotiation procedure can allow JPI Oceans' Parties to re-discuss and re-orient funded projects, without introducing contractual amendments. At this purpose, in the MoU, the Parties can add a specific clause introducing the above mentioned option and how to implement it. At this purpose a panel responsible for the negotiation procedure shall be established. It should include representatives of both the funding organisations and experts.

Funding models for the implementation of joint calls

Different funding models can be adopted for the implementation of joint calls. The ERA-LEARN toolbox and the JOREP report offer an overview and description of different possibilities. When barriers to cross-border funding are high, participants tend to opt for different virtual common pot models. In the absence of barriers for transnational funding, true common pot models are to be preferred above alternative models. EC rules will have to be followed if the joint call makes use of EC funding instruments.

When dealing with trans-national calls and virtual common pots, the proposals have to be designed taking into account also the availability of funds for the activities developed by partners from different countries. This requires a sort of risk-assessment for accessing the national funds and therefore in selecting partners and activities, independently from their quality and necessity to be involved (ERA-NET Cofund guide to consortia). 

Click here to expand or collapse this section


At present, virtual common pot models with common evaluation and selection procedures seem the most appropriate funding model to implement joint calls by MS/AS. Virtual common pot models may suffer from the fact that one or more funding partners run out of budget before all highly-ranked projects have been funded. This results in delays and an inefficient use of resources. Only real common pot models can truly overcome this problem. However, intermediate solutions to this issue may be applied to joint calls. The funding partners may jointly decide to use a certain percentage of their cash contributions for resolving such “funding imbalances”. This requires the legal possibility and the agreement of funding partners to spend a limited amount of their budget on joint research projects carried out outside their countries.

If EC-instruments with EC top-up funds are used, the above-mentioned procedure can largely overcome funding imbalances if a certain percentage of the top-up funding is used for filling up “funding gaps” caused by a lack of funds available to national funding agencies. Such a balancing pot will ensure that as many projects as possible can be funded following the ranking list resulting from the peer review process. The remaining portion of the EC funds can be distributed proportionally among the funding agencies based on the respective contri­butions, including in-kind contributions.


An additional set of rules may be required if the call allows for, or requires, in-kind contributions by funding partners. In the simplest case, in-kind contributions are part of each proposal, indicating the commitment of applying institutions and countries to support to the aims of the joint call. In-kind contributions can be seen as a means to align research priorities using institutionalized budgets.

In more elaborate models, in-kind contributions are not part of proposals, but represent non-competitive contributions by funding partners. This latter option is not usually imple­mented in competitive calls.

More information on the different funding models for the implementation of joint calls can ba found in the JPI Oceans document 'Proposal for procedures for design and management of joint actions'.

In-kind and cofund contribution and top-up distribution in the eranet scheme/art. 185

The EC funding towards joint research actions from Member States was usually channelled through the ERANET, ERANET Plus and art. 185 with the aim to create leverage effect on the national funds to be coordinated. Horizon 2020 will have a more comprehensive and flexible instrument for coordinating national programmes which will merge the ERANET, ERANET Plus in the so called “ERA-NET cofund”. The national contribution requested to access the EC contribution (the so called top-up) has been mostly committed in terms of fresh money, but there are some exceptions.

ERA-NET cofund or Art. 185 agreements for the in-kind contribution recognition and top-up distribution 

Art.185 BONUS and EMRP consider in-kind contributions eligible as national contributions and consequently they count towards the total investment required to access the EC top-up. BONUS, for example, foresees that up to 25% of the national contributions may be provided as in-kind provision (free of charge use) of infrastructure within the BONUS projects. This national provision is then matched equally with funding from the EU retroactively. However, certain reporting obligations must be met to demonstrate the correct value of the infrastructure provided, confirming its actual use within a BONUS project and provide the EU with audit rights to check that provision is administered correctly as reported. The use of infrastructure as in-kind contribution reduces the proportion of the national cash contributions in the next call accordingly. If infrastructures cannot be provided free of charge, projects have to apply for as direct costs which results in limiting the available budget for research for the whole consortium

In some MS/AC, this complicated procedure can also generate difficulties in reaching a compromise or delays in the decision process. Considering both cash and in-kind contributions for joint funding projects implies and promotes close links between research funding organizations (RFOs) and research performing organizations (RPOs). Both RFOs and RPOs can therefore have a fundamental role in supporting and realizing joint actions. A scaling ratio between the cash and in-kind contribution, that is the percentage of the value of the in-kind contribution which is considered comparable to a cash contribution, can be adopted to balance different national contributions. For example in BONUS, a maximum of 25% of in-kind contribution can be included and EC contributes up to a maximum 33% of the total budget, implying that the in-kind contribution is considered as scaled to 60% of a cash-contribution. 

In view of the next ERANET scheme (ERA-NET cofund) which should allow a more flexible use of the top-up from EC, we therefore propose the following approach for the agreement between partners with EC to be adopted when dealing as an example also for Art. 185.


Most projects require the allocation of human resources, infrastructures, specific supplies and funds. In many cases funds are intended and used to integrate existing capacities and activities within projects and programmes or to directly fund research activities through the reimbursement of personnel costs and acquisition or use of equipment and infrastructure. When personnel costs or infrastructures are not directly reimbursed, these issues are usually referred to as “in-kind contributions”. The in-kind contribution is typically considered as a co-funding.

In-kind contribution can be most relevant for reaching a certain critical mass and collecting competences in order to develop efficient actions. This is, especially true for MS/AC whose availability of funds and different types of in-kind contributions (infrastructure, data, personnel) can largely differ. In-kind contributions allow to make maximal use of complementarity and synergy between collaborating partners.

In-kind contributions should not be disregarded when designing and negotiating joint programming and actions. They may allow access to otherwise inaccessible resources consisting of infrastructure, knowledge, data and others. In-kind contributions should be valued as equally-important contribution to joint calls as monetary funds. 

For these reasons, in-kind contribution and the EC top-up contribution will follow the following guidelines for their recognition and distribution:


In-kind contribution 

A1) Partners can be considered as funders and involved in the agreement if they commit financial resources or open access to national infrastructures.

A2) In-kind contribution as access to infrastructures or personnel is recognized when their necessity is clearly demonstrated in terms of their strategic roles in achieving the objectives. These roles and the percentage of the value of the in-kind contribution which is considered comparable to a cash contribution have to be defined in the call text (scaling ratio).

A3) The in-kind contribution has to be registered, accounted and accessible between the participants. EC rules are used for the calculation of the costs of personnel and use of infrastructures.

A4) Flexibility in the use of the scaling ratio should be adopted in case of strategic involvement of some partners (especially when dealing with geographical coverage of data and infrastructures).

A5) The maximum total in-kind contribution should not exceed totally #% of the whole budget from Member States and Associated Countries. This upper limit has to be published in the call text.


Top-up in case of adopting the mixed mode model as financing system 

B1) The just retour approach should be limited, whenever possible, in order to agree upon reasonable arrangements on funds and capacities to optimise the results. 

B2) In principle, in case of the adopting mixed mode model as financing system, no national/regional funding will cross the borders. The mixed mode – which was the most used model for ERANET Plus calls, helps to ensure that selection decisions can follow the common ranking list of the evaluated proposals (which was an ERANET Plus requirement) and that the participating funding countries/beneficiaries maintain their initial commitments. The final decision on which projects are to be funded in joint calls will determine the amount of budgets to be spent by the funders, and this will influence also the EC contribution. The final EC contribution is open to variations and will, in principle, be determined at the end of the activities funded within the calls as the costs claimed by and granted to the projects can vary in their running time. 

B3) To ensure that as many ranked projects as possible following the ranking list can be funded, up to #% of the available EC contribution will be used as a “balancing pot” for filling up the funding gaps caused by a lack of funds available to national/regional funding agencies and accordingly to the criteria for selection defined by the adopted peer review (selection) process. The remaining portion of the EC funds will be distributed proportionally among the funding agencies based on the actual respective national/regional contributions, taking into account the in-kind contribution as previously described. 

To summarize the principles for distributing the funding:

  • EC and national regulations for funding are applied
  • Funding follows ranking list as defined by the adopted selection process
  • A mixed mode funding model is applied
  • No national/regional funding will cross the borders
  • Up to % of the EC top-up isused as a balancing pot and the remaining portion will be proportionally distributed based on the actual national/regional contributions.

The final distribution of the EC contribution will be defined after the ranking list has been approved and the in-kind contribution from the beneficiaries of the funded projects has been calculated.


  • JPI Oceans call for proposals may or may not use EC funding instruments. EC funding rules will apply in the latter case.
  • JPI Oceans calls for proposals should make use of a lead agency procedure in order to avoid unnecessary duplication and increase efficiency.
  • Funding partners of JPI Oceans calls for proposals should sign a MoU before embarking on joint calls. The MoU defines the joint call and the tasks and responsibilities of the funding partners and all call implementation bodies.
  • Depending on call complexity and the envisaged time frame, JPI Oceans calls for proposals can be implemented as one-step (only full proposals) or two-step (pre- and full proposals) procedures.
  • JPI Oceans calls for proposals should allow for the use of in-kind contributions, either within individual projects or as overall contribution to a call.
  • JPI Oceans calls for proposals (without EC participation) are most likely to use a virtual common pot model for funding. Mixed common pot models can be used if EC-instruments such as EraNet+ are used.
  • JPI Oceans calls for proposals should make use of a balancing pot of pre-defined size to avoid funding imbalances which can result from mismatches between national funding possibilities and national representation in highly-ranked proposals.


    • Financing model ERA-NET PLUS Heritage plus Official document from Heritage Plus
    • Funding model – Virtual common pot, Seas Era (annex 1) Official document from Seas Era
    • Funding model – Virtual common pot, Wadden Sea (annex 3) Official document from NOW
    • JPI on “Cultural Heritage and Global Change: a new Challenge for Europe, JHEP Joint Pilot Call Memorandum of Understanding - Official document from JPI JHEP CONFIDENTIAL
    • Lead agency process (Agreement between SNSF and FNR, and between SNSF, DFG and FWF)
    • Memorandum of Understanding for Joint Calls – Wadden Sea Official document from NOW – CONFIDENTIAL
    • Memorandum of understanding ERA-NET PLUS Official document from Nano-SCI ERA - CONFIDENTIAL
    • SEAS ERA - Memorandum of Understanding first/second Pan-European, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Black Sea SEAS-ERA Call Official document from SEAS ERA - CONFIDENTIAL
  • CALL
    • Application Form for Projects Proposals JPI JHEP Joint Pilot Transnational Call
    • Application Full proposal form (basic data) Neuron (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Application Full proposal form (detailed information) Neuron (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Application for EraSME call for proposals for transnational projects
    • Application form full proposals MATERA+
    • Bonus Innovation Guide for applicants
    • Bonus Viable ecosystem Guide for applicants
    • Bonus call Innovation application form & annexes
    • Bonus call Viable ecosystem application form & annexes
    • Call for proposal application form, Transnational call on bilateral Wadden Sea Research (annex 2) Official document from NWO
    • Call for proposals Eurotransbio 6th Transnational call for proposals (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Feedback Letters to applicants after stazge one and stage two (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Full proposal Financial Plan Neuron (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Guidelines for applicants EraSME 13th call for proposals
    • Guidelines for applicants Eurotransbio (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Guidelines for applicants MATERA+
    • Guidelines for applicants for ERA-NET call (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Guidelines for applicants – JPI JHEP Pilot Transnational Call
    • Instruction for call secretariat, Seas era (annex 5) Official document from Seas Era
    • Instruction for the call secretariat, Wadden Sea (annex 5) Official document from NOW
    • National announcement template checklist TEKES (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Pre-proposal form Neuron (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Pre-proposal form budget plan Neuron (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Seas Era Pre-proposal form (annex 3) Official document from Seas Era
    • Seas Era call for proposals (annex 2) Official document from Seas Era
    • Submission of pre/full proposals examples (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Assessment criteria Seas era (annex 6) Official document from Seas Era
    • Assessment criteria Wadden Sea (annex 4) Official document from NWO
    • Conflict of interests, confidentiality and IPR Seas era (annex 9) Official document from Seas Era
    • Consensus report template (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Evaluation criteria (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Evaluation criteria Neuron (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Evaluation criteria checklist (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Evaluation criteria full proposals MNT ERA-Net (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Evaluation form Full proposal MATERA+
    • Evaluation form Wadden Sea (annex 7) Official document from NWO
    • Evaluation reporting form Neuron (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Evaluation template Bonus viable ecosystems
    • Guidelines for evaluators Bonus Innovation
    • Guidelines for evaluators Bonus Viable ecosystems
    • Guidelines for evaluators CO-Reach (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Guidelines for evaluators Eurotransbio (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Guidelines for reviewers EDCTP
    • Guidelines for reviewers Seas era (annex 7) Official document from Seas Era
    • Guidelines for the Evaluation Committee Wadden Sea (annex 6, 8) Official document from NWO
    • NDA Declaration of Confidentiality ERASysBio Plus (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • NDA declaration of Conflict of interest ERASysBio Plus (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) Eurotransbio (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Project proposals evaluation summary Matera (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Review form Seas era (annex 8) Official document from Seas Era
    • Summary report template (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Analysing the impact of Joint calls, Example 1 (ETB-PRO) (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Analysing the impact of Joint calls, Example 2 (MNT-ERA.NET) (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Analysing the impact of Joint calls, Example 3 (ERA-NET CRUE) (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Bonus implementation agreement – (art 18 infrastructures contribution)
    • Checklist consortium agreement IPR Eurostars (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Consortium agreement Model FP7 DESCA ipr-and-ca
    • Consortium agreement guidelines with principles of IPR, ERA-IB (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Consortium agreement project EraSME
    • Feedback example, review of the call (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • General terms of the Grant Agreement, EDCTP
    • Grant Agreement Model, Bonus EEIG
    • Guide for Participants, Bonus EEIG
    • Guide to Reporting in kind, free of charge infrastructure contributions to Bonus
    • Inventory of the infrastructures in the Baltic Sea Region suited for BONUS research (Bonus 2011-2017)
    • Mapping tools for participating programmes, Example questionnaire (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Provisions for the Preparation of ERA-NET Plus actions and their practical implementation
    • Reporting Template, Template A1, optional periodic report (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Reporting Template, Template A2, final report (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Reporting Template, Template B1, periodic report (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Reporting Template, Template B2, final report (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)
    • Skeleton Consortium agreement Eurostars (Netwatch Learning Platform toolbox)

JPI Oceans AISBL  •   Rue du Trône 4, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel. +32 (0)2 626 16 60   •
Website developed and maintained by VLIZ | Privacy and Cookie policy