WHAT WE DO
In all our Irish proposals and projects we appreciate the input and support of the Horizon team at Enterprise Ireland and the network of National Contact Points.
If you already have a proposal prepared and are looking for an expert opinion on how to tune and improve it, we can bring many years’ experience to bear. Depending on your needs, we can help you to repair or rephrase weaker elements of the project. Alternatively, we can simply point out the strengths and weaknesses in the proposal, the consortium, the budget, the workplan, etc.
We have helped clients to prepare proposals for most major EU Programmes over the last decade, including Horizon 2020, FP7, FP6, eContentPlus, ERA-NET, IST, ACTS, Telematics, ESPRIT, ISIS, CIP, and eTen. Up to 2009, our success rate was 50%+. In 2010, our success rate increased to close to 100%. In 2011, about two out of every three proposals were successful. Even in the competitive final years of FP7, proposals in which we were partners were successful over 50% of the time. While Horizon2020 has to date been very competitive, we remain one of the most successful Irish organisations, with seven H2020 successes to date (in five of which we are partners – see our EU projects page for details). At any given time, we usually have two to five proposals under development.
Usually, we will review and rework the scientific material in any proposal for style and coherence, but leave it to the client to judge the quality of the research. We typically co-author the implementation and impact sections in collaboration with the client. Our experience and expertise mean that we know what evaluators are looking for and how to ensure that your message gets across.
Our experience in proposing and running successful projects means that we understand the rules, regulations and exceptions which govern building an acceptable EU project budget, maximizing the effectiveness of the project budget for reaching your research objectives, while ensuring that both the consortium and the EU get value for money. We can help to establish what funding model best suits a particular organisation, how to handle overheads, capital equipment, labour costs, travel and subsistence, sub-contractors, etc. Given the headline figures, we usually develop the detailed budget and submit it to the client for approval.
For Irish coordinators, the cost of our support during the proposal preparation phase is supported by grants available from Enterprise Ireland.
Supporting the Coordinator
In most cases, Pintail is a small-scale partner in the projects that we help to create. Of course, this is at the client’s discretion, but having dedicated, long-term bureaucratic, administrative and non-scientific support from an experienced EU project management team will make coordinating your project an easier and more pleasant experience. We also specialise in dissemination and in exploitation planning, in building synergies with other projects, and in laying the foundations for further research.
Being selected for funding is the start of the negotiation process (re-named Grant Agreement Preparation in Horizon2020). Negotiation usually takes 2-3 months and involves a good deal of bureaucracy, legal and financial validation of partners, budget scrutiny and preparation of the Description of Action (DoA). The DoA is a substantial contractual document, based on the proposal, which defines what the project will do, when it will do it, and what it will deliver. We work closely with the coordinator on a day to day basis to prepare the necessary paperwork (DoA, LFV, GA, A2.5 Forms, A Forms, SYGMA sessions, etc.). We also oversee preparation of the Consortium Agreement which governs how the manner in which partners work together and addresses Intellectual Property rights. Our extensive experience ensures a smooth, successful grant agreement preparation process.
Once grant agreement preparations are complete and the project contract has been signed, we facilitate initiation of the project. We agree the administrative processes and tools to be used during the project with the client. We then present these to all partners at the kick-off meeting and provide templates and guidance for periodic reports, budget management, deliverables and other documentation. We set up shared document management spaces (using dropbox or a web server), email lists and project calendars to ensure that your project runs smoothly.
Throughout the project lifetime, we provide EU expertise, administrative and reporting support, quality assurance, technical writing, expertise in dissemination, promotion, technology transfer, business planning and exploitation, budget management, meeting preparations and facilitation. Depending on the project’s needs, we write deliverables and annual/final reports, prepare the team for formal EU reviews, and represent the project to reviewers. As project partners, we are funded by the Commission, so that the coordinator (our original client) benefits without cost.
We have supported many EU projects in the past and we currently work with the coordinators of projects in Health, ICT, Security, Materials Science/Physics and Social Science. Our track record includes representing projects at annual, final and crisis (‘red flag’) reviews, acting as the main point of contact for the European Commission officers dealing with a project, and leading groups of partners in individual work-packages within major projects. Our Director spent years working in Brussels for the Commission, so we understand what is required to effectively manage an EU-funded project.
While most universities have EU project support offices, these hard-working teams typically do not have the time or resources to provide long-term, in-depth support which substantially reduces the workload of project coordinators. When we are project partners, we allocate lead and back-up individuals who concern themselves with all aspects of project administration and delivery, including responsibility for periodic reports, amendments and other major bureaucratic tasks.
Research Data Management
Pintail’s software team develops secure cloud-based research data management systems. These systems are deployed in research projects where Pintail is a partner, but are also available for third party projects.
StudyVault is an easy to use cloud-based data management platform that helps researchers, clinicians, and analysts to share research data securely online and work together more productively. With StudyVault you can share encrypted research data across your project consortium no matter where they are in the world. StudyVault helps you to manage ethically sensitive personal information by including optional on-site software to store this data in an encrypted format.
By providing unified access to shared research data across your project consortium, StudyVault offers the ability to collaborate more effectively and ultimately drive new research. Data gathering by project partners is an important resource for further post-hoc and secondary analysis and can trigger new research avenues after your project ends. StudyVault includes industry-standard security at all stages to ensure that research and personal data is protected in transit and at rest. Controlled access and policy-based key management ensures that the project administrators can specify how data is governed. This includes when and where data is stored and accessed, compliance with defined retention periods, protection from unauthorized use, and end-of-life disposal requirements.
StudyVault also offers personalization and choice. Pintail works with our research partners to incorporate advanced and extensible features such as custom-built data entry screens that are suitable for your interventions or clinical trials, uploaders that allow you to easily select excel files or existing databases and upload them, composable services that can store date on the cloud or in hybrid cloud/in-house stores, as well as incorporating project specific data management, harmonization and aggregation/analysis requirements.