COST Actions are networks of cooperation between researchers that do research in their own country, in the specific field of the Action. COST Actions cover all scientific and technological fields, promoting interdisciplinarity and excellence, adopting a bottom-up approach, where applicants for a new Action specify the content / field of the Action based on their interests.
Via these Actions, researchers from all stages of their career, have the opportunity to network, exchange opinions, present their scientific findings and coordinate their activities at a European level. COST Actions are open to researchers and stakeholders from academia, industry / enterprises, NGOs, the public sector etc. COST emphasises the participation of researchers coming from less research-intensive COST members, including Cyprus.
The main networking tools supported by COST are:
- Meetings, workshops and conferences: these are organised by the COST Action management committee and are open to the entire scientific community.
- Short-term scientific missions (STSMs): exchange visits between researchers in the network of a COST Action, which provide access to an institution or laboratory in another COST country.
- Training schools: they offer training in one of the Action’s laboratories or organisations, which possesses unique equipment and/or know-how.
- Dissemination activities: dissemination of research results of Action participants towards other COST Actions, the wider scientific community, policymakers, the media and society, through publications, electronic media, press releases, events, etc.
- Conference grants: They support PhD students and early-career investigators from Inclusiveness Target Countries, such as Cyprus, to attend international conferences that are not organised by a COST Action.
COST covers coordination and management costs for the research networks known as COST Actions, providing funding of 134.000 Euros per annum, for 4 years. The COST programme covers the expenses of researchers for participation in meetings and other activities organised in the context of COST Actions.
COST does not fund research, but networking activities, however research arising from COST Actions can be supported by own funds or via other Programmes (e.g. the EU Framework Programmes, national Programmes etc). It should be noted that according to 2019 statistics, the average value of spin-off projects per COST Action was 6m Euros, while the success rate of spin-off proposals submitted under Horizon 2020 has been estimated at 37% (Source: COST Annual Report 2019).
Opportunities to Participate in COST
As part of implementing its mission to fund bottom-up, excellent, open collaboration networks (COST Actions) in the area of science and technology, COST offers the following participation opportunities in its activities, for researchers and innovators from academia, public or private organisations, NGOs, industry and SMEs:
- Create a new COST Action
- Participate in an existing COST Action
- Participate as an External Expert
In addition, COST has recently created a training initiative for COST Actions’ participants, the COST Academy, which offers training, workshops and mentoring in issues relevant to the implementation of COST Actions, particularly aiming among other things to develop the skills of young researchers and researchers from Inclusiveness Target Countries.
Based on official statistics published in the COST Annual Report 2019, in each COST Action an average of 30 countries participate, offering significant networking opportunities in Europe and beyond, while 88% of participants in COST Actions consider their participation to have contributed to the advancement of their career. At the same time the impact of participating in a COST Action is also significant in the ability to attract funding, with proposals resulting from COST Action to have a 37% success rate in H2020 and the average value of spin-off projects per Action to be estimated at 6 million Euros.
Creation of a new COST Action
Interested researchers, can propose the creation of a new COST Action by submitting a relevant proposal to the COST Open Call, which collects and evaluates proposals once or twice a year, for the creation of 40-45 new Actions.
The submission of the short proposal, is a one-stage procedure, done via the electronic submission tool e-COST and is open to all scientific and technological fields (bottom-up).
Proposals must be submitted by a network of proposers from at least seven (7) COST Members, amongst which a minimum number, depending on the size of the network, shall be from COST Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITC). Funding amounts to 134.000 Euros per annum, for four (4) years.
Proposals are evaluated against specific criteria of scientific and technological excellence, networking excellence, impact and implementation.
Participation in existing COST Action
In each COST Action, up to two researchers can be nominated by each COST country as Management Committee Delegates (MC Delegates) and at least two (2) as Management Committee Substitutes (MC Substitutes). MC Substitutes are invited to attend MC meetings only in case of absence of an MC Delegate.
Interested researchers that wish to represent Cyprus in the Management Committee of an existing COST Action, must submit an application to RIF – Application for Participation in a Running COST Action.
The national rules and participation criteria in COST Actions, as well as the obligations of applicants representing Cyprus, are included in the following document: Criteria for Nominating in Running Actions / General Rules and Procedures / Applicant obligation for taking part in a current COST Action.
Participation in a running COST Action is open to researchers from any organisation legally established in the Republic of Cyprus, from the public or private sector, conducting research relevant to the activities of the Action. Applicants must have a permanent employment position in their organization, while in case they are employed on a contract of limited or fixed-term duration, the period of the contract must at least be the same or exceed the lifetime of the Action.
Based on the national rules, a researcher can participate in only one running COST Action at any given time.
During the evaluation of an application by RIF, the following three criteria are taken into consideration:
- active participation of the Applicant (as a Coordinator or Partner) in a running ongoing research project relevant to the activities of Action
- proven recent experience / competence of the Applicant in conducting research in a field relevant to the activities of the Action,
- recent, relevant publications. Following the successful evaluation of the application, the Republic of Cyprus signs the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the applicant can start participating in the activities of the Action.
Applicants who were members of the initial consortium establishing a COST Action do not need to submit an application to RIF, however, they have to inform RIF on their wish to participate in the Action, in order for RIF to take the relevant steps for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Apart from the participation in the Management Committee of an action, there is also the option of joining an Action at the Working Group level only, for which no application to RIF is required, but the applicant needs to communicate with the Action Chair. It should be noted that participation in a Working Group of a COST Action is only allowed when the country has appointed a Delegate at its Management Committee. RIF encourages Early-Stage Researchers / PhD Candidates to participate in the Working Groups of running.
Engage as a COST External Expert
The COST Association invites experts from all scientific areas to participate in the evaluation of proposals collected through the COST Open Call for the establishment of new COST Actions or in the evaluation of the results and outcomes of existing COST Actions.
Interested experts can come from any sector (academia, industry etc), however they should possess a university degree and considerable scientific or professional experience in their area of expertise.
Potential experts can express their interest via the COST Expert online registration form www.cost.eu/experts, providing their Curriculum Vitae and publication list.