The Network of Excellence was designed by the European Commission as a new funding instrument in the context of the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.
Despite some initial concerns among potential applicants that its goals would prove over-ambitious, or even unachievable, subsequent experience has confirmed the validity of the concept in mobilising transnational research collaborations between partners sharing a commitment to long-term integration.
A key feature that differentiates this instrument from previous initiatives is the requirement to plan for perpetuation and development of the cooperation in the form of a self-sustaining Durable Integration Structure.
The EC support via the NoE instrument is intended to lead to the creation of Durable Integration Structure (DIS) with the momentum to survive and grow on a long term basis.
Indeed, the depth and durability of the foreseen integration, and the provisions made to foster its realisation during the EC-funded period, were key criteria in selecting NoE projects (under the 6FP).