ESPON is inviting local and regional authorities to put forward ideas for research that they would like done on development and governance in their area. The call extends to all 28 EU countries, plus Iceland, Leichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Six of the proposals received by 9 March will be funded, and there will be further rounds after that
The only cost to the successful councils will be in the staff time they provide to support the work by providing local data, inteviews with local officals or elected members, for example, plus any travel costs (though there would not necessarily be any of these). ESPON will pay all the costs of the research team in each chosen project.
The key to a successful bid is to connect local issues to a wider European perspective. This allows for many possible kinds of topics to be researched, e.g. flood risk planning and management, future of town centres in small towns, strategies for SME growth in a sub-region, local impacts of migration on essential infrastructure etc. etc.
Similar projects operated in the previous ESPON programme, though there needed to be at least three local authorities from three different ESPON countries involved in the proposal. This restriction has now been dropped, and a single council can make a proposal. This is likely to faciliate the development and submission of a proposal, but the need to set the local issue in a European context remains crucial. Similarly, the proposer needs to be clear on how the research findings will be used in practice.