EJP RD – Networking Support Scheme (NSS) Call

The Networking Support Scheme (NSS) funding opportunity is open

The Networking Support Scheme (NSS) of the European Joint Programme on Rare Diseases is funding quarterly networking initiatives in the field of rare diseases and rare cancers, bringing together health care professionals, scientists, patient advocacy groups, early career researchers and other relevant stakeholders.

The first aim is to encourage sharing of knowledge on rare diseases and rare cancers of health care professionals, researchers and patients.
The second aim is to enable or increase the participation of usually underrepresented countries in Europe (see below) in new and existing research networks.

Research networks
The scheme will provide financial support to applicants to organize workshops or conferences. These workshops or conferences are meant to

  1. form new research networks or expand existing research networks;
  2. strengthen collaborations;
  3. enable the exchange of knowledge.
    The focus of these workshops or conferences should be (the implications of) research results and innovative solutions. The results of these networking events may lead to future collaborative and novel research efforts.

IRDiRC vision
The aims of the NSS are in compliance with the vision set by the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium (IRDiRC). The IRDiRC vision is: “enable all people living with a rare disease to receive an accurate diagnosis, care, and available therapy within one year of coming to medical attention”.

Eligible applicants
Eligible applicants to apply for the NSS are health care professionals, researchers and patient advocacy organizations from the following countries involved in the EJP RD (in alphabetical order): Armenia*, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria*, Croatia*, Czech Republic*, Denmark, Estonia*, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia*, Greece, Hungary*, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia*, Lithuania*, Luxembourg, Malta*, Norway, Poland*, Portugal, Romania*, Serbia*, Slovakia*, Slovenia*, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Turkey*, United Kingdom.
The countries that are indicated with an asterisk (*) are usually seen as underrepresented countries.

At least one Principal applicant and two co-applicants from three different countries mentioned above have to apply together for support of a Networking event.

Applicants from Canada are not eligible for funding. However, networking events can be organized in all countries mentioned above and in Canada.

The applying consortium is allowed to invite other participants to join the networking event. There is no limit to the number of participants.

In this Networking Support Scheme applicants can apply for a budget of a maximum of 30,000 € per event.

Please note: After the 2nd of June, 2021 the Call text, application template and website will be adapted based on the early assessment. For round 6 (September 2, 2021) the most recent versions of these documents should be used.

  1. Read the Call text

We would advise you to read the Call Text of the NSS (EJP RD – NSS – Call Text) very carefully.

Click here for the Call Text.

  1. Register in ProjectNet

We would advise you to register the applying organisations in the electronic submission system ProjectNet as soon as possible.

Click here to go to the electronic submission system ProjectNet.

Click here for instructions.

  1. Complete the application template

A specific application template (EJP RD – NSS – Application Template doc) has to be completed and submitted on the electronic submission system ProjectNet.

Please download here the Application Template.


If you have questions, please click here for the Frequently Asked Questions document.

Evaluation procedure

First the eligibility will be checked. Applications that pass the eligibility check will be evaluated in a competitive way by an independent Networking Evaluation Committee. This committee consists of health care professionals, researchers and patient representatives. The committee uses defined evaluation criteria that are specified in the call text. The rules of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme will be applied.

Events may be organized between 6 and 18 months after the application date for 2021. From 2022 onwards, events may be organized between 6 and 12 months.

Face-to-face or online
Face-to-face meetings are preferred over online meetings. Nevertheless, online meetings will be considered by the evaluation committee, due to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Risk assessment
The evaluation committee will consider the COVID-19 pandemic via the proposed risk assessment of the application.

On the 30th of March 2021, we started the early assessment of the Networking Support Scheme. This assessment is to determine whether the current scheme meets its aims and the needs of the rare diseases community, to analyse the progress of the scheme, and to formulate “lessons learned”. The lessons can be used to improve documents and procedures if needed.

The Call for the NSS is open on a continuous basis. The applications will be collected on the following dates in 2021.
March 2, 2021 at 14.00 (CET)
June 1, 2021 at 14.00 (CEST)
September 2, 2021 at 14.00 (CEST)
December 2, 2021 at 14.00 (CET)

For questions related to the content and application Template: Network Support Scheme Secretariat.
E-mail: NSSS(at)zonmw.nl
Telephone: +31 70 515 0330

For questions related to the electronic submission system of ZonMw: Servicedesk of ZonMw.
E-mail: servicedesk(at)zonmw.nl
Telephone: +31 70 349 51 78

Please check the FAQ document here before contacting the secretariat or the Servicedesk.

If your application is selected for funding, the procedure steps for the principal applicant are as follows.

  1. Budget plan

The budget plan of the application will be judged by the financial department of the NSS Secretariat.

  1. Contract

The contract (service provider agreement) will be drawn and signed by the Principal applicant and NSS Secretariat (ZonMw). An example of the contract can be found here. More information about the terms and conditions for public service contracts (ARVODI) can be found here and here.

  1. Communication on EJP RD website

Announcement of the funded Networking event will be placed on the EJP RD website (unless it was stated in the Application form that it is a closed Networking event).

  1. Acknowledgement of funding

The Principal applicant and the consortium must ensure that all communication about the Networking event includes a proper acknowledgement of the EJP RD. Information on this acknowledgement and use of the EU emblem is present in the call text.

  1. Report 1: Communication of Outcomes

An online reporting survey has to be completed by the Principal applicant within 2 months after the funded Networking event has taken place. The information in this survey will be used to disseminate and communicate outcomes.

  1. Report 2: Financial Report

The financial report has to be sent to the NSS Secretariat within 3 months after the event has taken place. The format of this financial report can be found here.

  1. Final financial settlement

The NSS Secretariat will organize the final financial settlement after having received a PDF of report 1 (communication of outcomes) and the excel file of report 2 (the financial report).

  1. Communication on EJP RD website

The EJP RD will publish the public lay summaries with results of the funded Networking events on the EJP RD website and in EJP RD newsletters.

After the fourth round, the secretariat received a total of 36 applications.
Percentage of applications…
… that are eligible 100%
… that are selected 54%
… with applicants from patient advocacy organizations 61%
… with applicants from underrepresented countries 75%
… with applicants that are early-career scientists 50%
Number of applications in medical domain.
Ciliopathies 1
Gastroenterology 1
Hematology 2
Hepatology 2
Immunology 1
Metabolic diseases 4
Neurology 10
Neuromuscular diseases 1
Oncology 3
Ophthalmology 3
Pulmonology 1
Several domains 7