Call for Virtual Mobility Grants

The COST Association has launched two new types of Grants to respond to the rising need of digital tools in the context of the pandemic and to ensure continuity of COST Actions’ work activities. These are proposed as a pilot scheme until 31 October 2021 to build capacity and spread the uptake of virtual collaboration.

The Virtual Networking Tools (VNTs) include two new types of Grants:

  • Virtual Networking Support (VNS) Grant to stimulate virtual collaboration among all the members of a given Action by designating a Virtual Networking Support Manager. The successful applicant will be selected by the COST Action Management Committee (MC) to promote the virtual collaboration, such as developing a virtual networking strategy for the Action, taking overall responsibility for Virtual Mobility Grants and supporting the MC in the discussions and planning of virtual events and collaboration activities.
  • Virtual Mobility (VM) Grants to strengthen the existing networks by allowing individual participants to foster collaboration, to exchange knowledge, to learn new techniques, etc. The successful applicants will be selected by the MC to perform activities that do not necessarily require in-person presence. 

For more information about these VNTs, please read the VADEMECUM and the FAQ document.

Virtual Networking Support Manager

As a result of a previous call, the VNS Manager for the 1st Grant Period will be Francisco Florez-Revuelta (francisco.florez@ua.es). You should contact him for any aspect related to this call.

GoodBrother’s Strategy for VNTs over the 1st Grant Period

The current situation with the covid pandemic, in which the traditional activities funded by the COST programme are very limited, is making extremely difficult to facilitate collaboration and interaction among Action participants. During the last months, GoodBrother has started organising some online activities, such as WG meetings, webinars… However, the lack of funding for these activities has limited the participation of MC members. Therefore, there is a need for a permanent strategy, supported with funding, for the organisation and management of these VNTs.

These VNTs must support the achievement of the main outcomes and milestones of the Action. In particular, for the 1st Grant Period, they should contribute to the finalisation of the planned deliverables or provide a complement to them. Additionally, they should serve to facilitate different Action objectives, as:

  • Objective 1. Promote the sustained collaboration between and across multiple disciplines.
  • Objective 2. Support a multidisciplinary, multi-cultural, multi-societal, gender- and age-based analysis of user acceptance.
  • Objective 4. Disseminate and communicate privacy-aware AAL technologies among the stakeholders.
  • Objective 9. Support the future leadership of Early Career Investigators (ECIs).
  • Objective 10. Support the research in Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITCs) and Near-Neighbour Countries (NNCs).

The COST Association provides open guidelines regarding the objectives of VNTs grants. Given the limited time to develop virtual networking strategies until the end of the 1st Grant Period (31 October 2021), GoodBrother’s Core Group discussed several approaches to award these grants, and it decided to narrow down their scope so that the outcomes align better with the overall objectives of the Action. Following the discussions, the Core Group considered that the best approach is concentrating this year’s efforts on one VNS and the six VM grants focussed on the creation of an online event (GoodBrother’s Onlinespeak) that would take place by the end of the 1st Grant Period, probably in mid-October.

GoodBrother’s Onlinespeak

The programme of GoodBrother’s Onlinespeak must consider the diversity of areas covered in GoodBrother, the objectives of the Working Groups, and the differences among members expertise (i.e., from experienced researchers to early-career investigators). Although the format is flexible, it is expected that it puts together different virtual activities (i.e. invited talks, MOOCs, demonstrations, and short courses), which will be funded through the six VM grants.

These virtual activities should support a better mutual understanding between experts from the different disciplines involved in GoodBrother. Participants with technological background (mainly in WG2, WG3 and WG4) should benefit from specific training on legal and ethical aspects associated to video- and audio-based AAL technologies. On the other hand, participants in WG1 should benefit from a better understanding on the latest video and audio technologies and the potential of state-of-the-art machine learning methods.

These activities should strengthen the research in ITCs and NNCs by providing virtual means for training, collaboration, and dissemination, which could complement those already offered by the Action. These VNTs could also initiate an online mentorship programme, so that experienced researchers, could advise and guide researchers in ITCs and NNCs and, in consequence, advance research and innovation in AAL solutions in those countries.

These activities might aim at facilitating public engagement to increase user awareness and gather relevant input. For instance, these VNTs might provide a means to gather valuable input regarding different cultural and societal perception of privacy across not only Europe but also worldwide. Here, it is very relevant the participation of contributors from different COST countries as well as NNCs and IPCs. These VNTs could involve end-user organisations in different countries. This activity could support the development of an intercultural acceptance cartography of audio- and video-based AAL solutions, which would be relevant for different stakeholders.

Potential activities that can be funded by the VM Grants might be linked to the deliverables that are due at the end of the 1st Grant Period. The following list includes (but not limited to) some examples of activities that could be part of GoodBrother’s Onlinespeak and funded through the VM Grants:

  • Seminar on legal aspects linked to the use of video- and audio-based AAL solutions
  • Seminar on ethical aspects linked to the use of video- and audio-based AAL solutions
  • Seminar on social aspects linked to the use of video- and audio-based AAL solutions
  • Survey on users’ acceptance of these technologies
  • Seminar on privacy-preserving methods
  • Short course on privacy preservation
  • Short course on video-based AAL applications
  • Short course on audio-based AAL applications
  • Online repository of relevant data sets
  • Demonstrations of different video and audio technologies
  • Demonstrations of privacy-preserving techniques
  • Recorded interviews with different experts about any of the topics covered by GoodBrother
  • Interviews to end-user organisations in different parts of the world regarding the use of video and audio monitoring for AAL, in order to learn cultural differences
  • Interviews to policy makers
  • Launching of an online mentoring programme

The selected activities will be scheduled during October. They will be previously recorded and a shared discussion will be facilitated after each one of them. All the created resources will be made available on the GoodBrother website so that they are accessible after the 1st Grant Period and other researchers could also benefit from them. This would provide an increase visibility to the Action and its participants.

Call for Virtual Mobility Grants

Eligibility

  • Applicant(s) are Action participants with a primary affiliation to an institution located in a COST Full or Cooperating Member country or MC Observers from a COST Near Neighbour Country.
  • The applicant(s) shall inform the MC about the aim of the VM Grant and how its outcomes will generate benefits to the Action, actively contribute to the activities and overall objectives of the Action and submit a report at the end, to be approved by the VNS manager on behalf of the MC.

NOTE: As stated by the Vademecum, an Action participant is any person being an Action MC member, an Action MC substitute, an Action MC Observer, a Working Group member or an ad-hoc participant.

Number of grants

Six

Grant amount

A financial contribution for each Virtual Mobility Grant of up to EUR 1 500 will be awarded. The grant does not necessarily cover all expenses related to undertaking the virtual networking coordination role.

Deadline

The call will be open in continuum until all the grants are awarded, as long as sufficient time is ensured for a quality delivery.

Duration

The activity must be finalised by mid-October, in which GoodBrother’s Onlinespeak will take place.

Application procedure

Please use the online form available via your e-COST profile at https://e-services.cost.eu. A template for the application can be found here. The proposal must align with the objectives and idea of GoodBrother’s Onlinespeak described above.

Additional information can be found in the Vademecum, The FAQ for VNTs and the VNT user guide. These documents can be downloaded from https://www.cost.eu/funding/how-to-get-funding/documents-and-guidelines/.

Evaluation and selection of applicants

The applications will be evaluated within one week by GoodBrother’s Core Group assisted by the VNS Manager.

All the applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Alignment of the proposal with the COST and Action aims and objectives
  • Alignment with the objectives and idea of GoodBrother’s Onlinespeak
  • Appropriate consideration of the inclusiveness Policy, especially towards the support of researchers in ITCs and NNCs.
  • In case of equally ranked applications underrepresented persons, ECI and applicants from ITC will be considered first