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Centres of Vocational Excellence

Implementing vocational excellence approaches features prominently in the overall EU policy agenda for skills and for Vocational Education and Training (VET). The European Skills Agenda, the European Education Area, the 2020 Council Recommendation on VET1 , as well as the Osnabrück Declaration2 , all include very clear references to Vocational Excellence as a driving force for reforms in the VET sector.

The initiative on Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) aims to respond to this policy priority supporting reforms in the VET sector, ensuring high quality skills and competences that lead to quality employment and career-long opportunities, meeting the needs of an innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy3 . The CoVE initiative also supports the implementation of the European Green Deal, the new Digital Strategy, and the new Industrial and SME Strategies, as skills are key to their success.

CoVEs operate in a given local context, creating skills ecosystems for innovation, regional development, and social inclusion, while working with CoVEs in other countries through international collaborative networks. They establish a bottom-up approach to vocational excellence involving a wide range of local stakeholders enabling VET institutions to rapidly adapt skills provision to evolving economic and social needs.

They provide opportunities for initial training of young people as well as the continuing up-skilling and re-skilling of adults, through flexible and timely offer of training that meets the needs of a dynamic labour market, in the context of the green and digital transitions. They act as catalysts for local business development and innovation, by working closely with companies (in particular SMEs) on applied research projects, creating knowledge and innovation hubs, as well as supporting entrepreneurial initiatives of their learners.

The networks aim for "upward convergence" of VET excellence. They will be open for the involvement of countries with well-developed vocational excellence systems, as well as those in the process of developing similar approaches, aimed at exploring the full potential of VET institutions to play a proactive role in support of growth and innovation.

This initiative introduces a "European dimension" to Vocational Excellence by supporting the implementation of EU VET policy and actions agreed with member states, social partners and VET providers.

The concept of Vocational Excellence proposed here is characterised by a holistic learner centred approach in which VET:

  • Is an integrated part of skills ecosystems4 , contributing to regional development5 , innovation6 , smart specialisation7 and clusters strategies8 , as well as to specific value chains and industrial ecosystems9 ;
  • Is part of knowledge triangles10 ,working closely with other education and training sectors, the scientific community, and business;
  • Enables learners to acquire both vocational (job specific) as well as key competences11 through high-quality provision that is underpinned by quality assurance;
  • builds innovative forms of partnerships12 with the world of work, and is supported by the continuous professional development of teaching and training staff, innovative pedagogies, learner and staff mobility and VET internationalisation strategies

Objectives of the Action

This action supports the gradual establishment and development of international collaborative networks of Centres of Vocational Excellence.

Centres of Vocational Excellence will operate at two levels:

  1. At national level involving a wide range of local stakeholders creating skills ecosystems for local innovation, regional development, and social inclusion, while working with CoVEs in other countries through international collaborative networks.
  2. At international level bringing together CoVEs that share a common interest in:
  • a common interest in specific sectors13
  • innovative approaches to tackle economic and societal challenges (e.g. climate change, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, sustainable development goals14 , integration of migrants and disadvantaged groups, upskilling people with low qualification levels, etc.), or
  • innovative approaches to increase the outreach, quality and effectiveness of existing CoVEs.

The networks will bring together existing CoVEs, or develop the Vocational Excellence model by linking partners from various countries, that intend to develop Vocational Excellence in their local context through international cooperation. They could contribute e.g. to the delivery phase of the New European Bauhaus initiative15 by collaborating with the communities involved in the local transformations fostered by the initiative.

CoVEs are not intended to build new VET institutions and infrastructure from scratch (although they may also do so). They can be existing vocational schools/providers that strive to achieve excellence by engaging in the set of activities proposed by this European initiative. CoVEs can also be newly set-up centres established with the purpose of providing excellent training offers and services that are responsive to labour market needs.

CoVEs achieve their objectives by bringing together and working closely with a set of local/regional partners such initial and continuing VET providers, higher education institutions including universities of applied sciences and polytechnics, research institutions, science parks, innovation agencies, companies, chambers and their associations, social partners, social enterprises, sectoral skills councils, professional/sector associations, national and regional authorities and development agencies, employment services, qualifications authorities, social inclusion and reintegration organisations, etc.

This call will thus support projects bringing together local or regional partners from various countries developing a set of activities under three clusters; 1) Teaching and learning, 2) Cooperation and partnerships, and 3) Governance and Funding.

CoVEs are intended for organisations providing vocational education and training, at any EQF levels from 3 to 8, including the upper-secondary level, the post-secondary non-tertiary level as well as the tertiary level (e.g. Universities of applied sciences, Polytechnic institutes, etc.).

However, applications cannot include only activities that target learners at tertiary level; applications that focus on VET at post-secondary level (EQF levels 6 to 8) must include at least one other VET qualification level between EQF levels 3 to 5, as well as a strong work-based learning component16 .

Eligibility criteria

In order to be eligible for an Erasmus grant, project proposals for Centres of Vocational Education must comply with the following criteria:

Who can apply?

The applicants (coordinator and full partners) must be:

  • Legal entities (public or private bodies) active in the field of vocational education and training or in the world of work;
  • Established in an EU Member State or third country associated to the Programme (Countries which are in ongoing negotiations for an association agreement and where the agreement enters into force before grant signature are eligible).

Organisations from third countries not associated to the Programme may also participate but not as coordinator. They must be public or private organisations active in the field of vocational education and training or in the world of work.

Exception: organisations from Belarus (Region 2) and the Russian Federation (Region 4) are not eligible to participate in this action.

Which type of organisations can participate in this project?

Participating organisations can be, for example (non-exhaustive list):

  • VET providers
  • VET providers representative organisations
  • Companies, industry or sector representative organisations
  • National/regional qualification authorities
  • Research institutes
  • Innovation agencies
  • Regional development authorities

    Number and profile of participating organisations

    The partnership must include at least 8 applicants (coordinator and full partners) from a minimum of 4 EU Member States or third countries associated to the Programme.

    Each EU Member State or third country associated to the Programme must include:

    a) at least 1 enterprise, industry or sector representative organisation, and

    b) at least 1 vocational education and training provider (at secondary and/or tertiary level).

    Further composition of the partnership should reflect the specific nature of the proposal.

    Organisations from third countries not associated to the Programme can also participate as full partners, affiliated entities or associated partners (not as coordinators), to the extent it is demonstrated that their participation brings an essential added value to the project.

     Venue of the activities

    Activities can take place in any eligible country, if duly justified in relation to the objectives or implementation of the project.

    Duration of the project

    Projects should normally last 48 months (extensions are possible, if duly justified and through an amendment).

    Where to apply?

    To the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).


    When to apply?

    Applicants have to submit their grant application by 8 June at 17:00:00 (Brussels time).


    Applicant organisations will be assessed against the relevant exclusion and selection criteria. For more information please consult Part C of this Guide.

    Setting up a project

    CoVEs are characterised by adopting a systemic approach through which VET institutions actively contribute to co-create "skills ecosystems", together with a wide range of other local/regional partners. CoVE´s are expected to go far beyond the simple provision of a quality vocational qualification.

    Below, we present a non-exhaustive list of typical activities provided by CoVEs. Projects will reach their objectives by building on a combination of these activities (bullet points are indicative examples of possible actions under each activity)17 .

    The project must choose relevant activities (providing details on the concrete actions and deliverables indicated under the following three clusters:

    1. at least 4 of the activities listed in the Application Form under Cluster 1 - Teaching and learning
    2. least 3 of the activities listed in the Application Form under Cluster 2 - Cooperation and partnership, and
    3. at least 2 of the activities listed in the Application Form under Cluster 3 - Governance and funding

    Cluster 1 - Teaching and learning

    i.    Providing people with labour market relevant skills

    • by anticipating future skill needs using effective means to rapidly identify changing labour market needs18 , and matching skill provision with job opportunities
    • by focusing on both technical skills and key competencies19
    • by including the skills necessary for the green and digital transitions20 ,

    ii.    Pursuing a lifelong learning and inclusive approach in VET

    • by ensuring learning opportunities to people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds21
    • by combining offers of initial VET qualifications and of continuing training for upskilling and reskilling, that are informed by skills intelligence22 .
    • providing higher-level VET programmes, developing flexible pathways, and cooperation mechanisms between VET and higher education institutions23

    iii.    Developing innovative curricula, allowing flexibility and individualisation of delivery

    • by developing individual learning plans24  or pathways for each learner25 , including for adults
    • Integrating international learner mobility26 in the curricula, ensuring the validation and recognition of the learning outcomes acquired abroad
    • Designing qualifications that integrate both school-based as well as work-based learning27 components
    • Developing European Vocational Core profiles28 , that contributes to the mobility of learners and workers, while ensuring its recognition, as well as the transparency, understanding and portability of learning outcomes29
    • Developing and/or using micro-credentials30 to recognise the outcome of short learning opportunities adapted to a fast-changing society and labour market
    • Making use of the European Digital Credentials for Learning, allowing to easily authenticate, validate and recognise credentials of any size, shape or form

    iv.    Developing innovative learner-centred teaching and learning materials and methodologies

    • including interdisciplinary, project-based, competence-based learning, “Learning factories”31 , makerspaces32 and positive education33
    • making use of European competence frameworks34 and derivative tools such as DigComp35 , EntreComp36 , FreenComp, LifeComp37 , GreenComp38 , SELFIE WBL39 , Test your digital skills40 , and the European Digital Skill Certificate41
    • exploiting innovative teaching equipment and digital technologies such as MOOC’s, simulators, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, for both school-based as well as work-based learning
    • fostering learner excellence42   through actions that incentive VET learners to explore their innovation and creative potential43 , leading to a virtuous cycle of benefits for the learners, teachers/trainers and the VET institution that can integrate best practices into regular programmes44 .

    v.    Investing in the initial and continuing professional development of teachers and trainers45

    • for pedagogical, technical, green, and digital skills including those needed for online and distance learning
    • embedding teachers’ and trainers’ mobility in learning, development and internationalisation strategies46
    • supporting the implementation of a quality culture based on defined management systems47

    vi.    Establishing strong quality assurance mechanisms

    • based on European tools and instruments such as EQAVET
    • working towards the certification of education and training providers based on standards developed by relevant national and/or international standards organisations - e.g. ISO 21001 or EFQM (see also EVTA label for VET Excellence)

    vii.    Establishing effective feedback loops and graduate tracking systems

    • setting-up procedures, mechanisms and instruments for effective feedback and review as part of a strategic learning process in the VET organisation, to support the development of high quality provision and improve opportunities for learners
    • enabling the timely adaptation of learning provision based on effective graduate tracking systems48 .

    viii.    Providing guidance services

    • ensuring quality guidance49 for both young people and adults to support their career and education and training choices, as well as and their participation in lifelong learning
    • providing tailor made support to people with vulnerabilities
    • enabling adults to make use of their entitlements to training

    ix.    Providing validation of prior learning

    • Providing validation of skills, no matter how they were acquired, including outside formal education and training: at work, at home or in voluntary activities50 , as a basis for personalised training provision

    Cluster 2 - Cooperation and partnerships

    x.    Establishing business-education partnerships

    • Cultivating mutually beneficial relationships with the business sector by forming long-term business-education partnerships, including for innovation and skills anticipation
    • Working together to continuously review and update curricula to ensure its relevance to learner and labour market needs, in particular for work based learning and apprentices
    • Supporting companies and in particular SMEs’ with tailor made training for up-skilling and re skilling
    • Co-operation with Public Employment Services and civil society to up-skill and re-skill unemployed and inactive
    • Supporting sector-based and regional co-operation, including joining the Pact for Skills51 , and supporting its implementation
    • Providing SMEs with technical support, skill needs assessment, tools and methodologies
    • Organising work-based learning, apprenticeships, and internships opportunities for learners, sharing of equipment, as well as exchanges of teachers and trainers between companies and VET centres52

    xi.    Applied research and Innovation

    • Working together with companies, in particular SMEs on applied research53 projects involving VET learners and staff
    • Making use or co-creating innovation hubs and technology diffusion centres54 to support SME innovation process with the involvement of VET learners and staff
    • Contributing to creation and dissemination of new knowledge55

    xii.    VET internationalisation and mobility abroad

    • Developing strategic planning for international activities, closely linked to the development of the VET institution, and the quality of teaching and learning practices56
    • Creating support structures and measures to foster and ensure the quality of VET mobility experiences (including virtual mobility) among the partners in the CoVE network in compliance with the Erasmus Quality Standards57
    • Launching initiatives to mobilise learners, teachers and trainers (including in-company trainers), as well as experts, to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Erasmus+ programme (KA1) to engage in mobility abroad

    xiii.    Fostering entrepreneurial skills and initiatives

    • Developing an entrepreneurial culture within VET organisations58 including leaders, staff, teachers and trainers as well as learners59
    • Working with local partners to develop learners’ entrepreneurial skills and attitudes that respond to real world challenges
    • Providing or linking with local business incubators for VET learners to develop their entrepreneurship60 initiatives

    xiv.    Raising VET attractiveness

    • By launching and actively participating in communication campaigns and activities, aimed at raising the attractiveness of VET
    • Informing of job opportunities through VET and attracting young people and adults (including learners in primary and secondary schools) to VET learning pathways
    • Setting-up International VET campus or summer camps61 aimed at learners, teachers and trainers, leaders in VET institutions, Trade unions, as well as for people considering future vocational study options. These could focus on specific occupational fields, products or services, as well as on complex challenges of societal and economic importance

    xv.    Skills competitions

    • Fostering the participation of learners in sectorial, national and international skills competitions, aimed at raising the attractiveness and excellence in VET (e.g. World Skills and/or EuroSkills competitions).

    Cluster 3 - Governance and funding

    xvi.    Autonomy and effective VET governance

    • Developing the capacity of VET providers to take decisions, independently and with accountability, on educational, organisational, financial, staff-related and other matters, in pursuit of activity carried out within the scope defined by national rules and regulations62
    • Involving relevant stakeholders, particularly companies, chambers, professional and sector associations, trade unions, national and regional authorities and social partners, including representatives of learners, in the governance of VET systems

    xvii.    Strategic approach to skills development and governance

    • Actively engaging in the national and regional skills governance systems
    • Contributing with a skills perspective to employment and social policy making at local, regional, national and European level

    xviii.    Co-creating skills ecosystems

    • Mobilising relevant economic and social partners as well as other educational and training institutions to engage or create local skills ecosystems aimed at supporting innovation, smart specialisation strategies, clusters, and sectors and value chains (industrial ecosystems)
    • Enabling local skills ecosystems contribute to attract foreign investment63 , by ensuring timely provision of skills for companies investing locally

    xix.    Developing sustainable financial models

    • Combining public and private funding64 , as well as income generating activities, and taking full advantage of performance-based funding schemes (if relevant)

    xx.    Making full use of national and EU financial instruments

    • These can include the support of education and training actions, mobility of learners and staff, applied research activities, infrastructure investments to modernise VET centres with advanced equipment, implementation of management systems to assure excellence and sustainability of VET organisations and the services they provide

    The project must clearly identify and explain the choice of each of the selected activities, and describe how the work to be carried out through those activities will concretely contribute to the relevant work packages, and with the overall objectives of the project.

    Projects are required to apply EU wide instruments and tools65 whenever relevant.

    Projects must include the design of a long-term action plan for the progressive roll-out of project deliverables after the project has finished. This plan shall be based on sustained partnerships between education and training providers and key industry stakeholders at the appropriate level. It should include the identification of appropriate governance structures, as well as plans for scalability and financial sustainability.

    It should also ensure the appropriate visibility and wide dissemination of the work of the COVE networks, including at EU and national political level and include details on how the roll-out will be implemented at European, national and/or regional levels with relevant partners. The action plan shall also indicate how other EU funding opportunities, and national and regional funding, as well as private funding can support the roll-out of the project.

    Expected impact

    The gradual establishment and development of European networks of Centres of Vocational Excellence is expected to increase VET responsiveness to adapt skills provision to evolving economic and social needs, ensuring that VET is at the forefront of providing solutions to the challenges posed by rapidly changing skills needs.

    By forming an essential part of the “knowledge triangle” – the close collaboration between businesses, education and research – and playing a fundamental role in providing skills to support innovation and smart specialisation, the Centres of Vocational Excellence are expected to ensure high quality skills and competences that lead to quality employment and career-long opportunities, which meet the needs of an innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy. 

    By being firmly anchored within regional/local contexts while at the same time operating at transnational level, the Centres of Vocational Excellence will form strong and enduring partnerships between the VET community and the world of work at national level and across borders. It will also contribute to the internationalization of VET by bringing together partners from all over the world. They will aim for "upward convergence" of excellence in VET, which would be difficult to establish in the absence of EU incentives, technical support, and opportunities for mutual learning.  

    Through the wide dissemination of project outcomes at transnational, national and/or regional levels and the development of a long term action plan for the progressive roll out of project deliverables, taking national and regional development and smart specialisation strategies into account, individual projects are expected to engage relevant stakeholders within and outside the participating organisations and ensure a lasting impact after the project lifetime.

    Award criteria

    The following award criteria apply:

    Relevance of the project (maximum score 35 points)

    • Link to policy: the proposal establishes and develops a transnational cooperation network of Centres of Vocational Excellence, aiming to foster VET excellence; it explains how it will contribute to achieve the goals of the policy priorities covered by the Council Recommendation on VET for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience66 , as well as the Osnabrück Declaration67 ;  
    • Consistency: the extent to which the proposal is based on an adequate needs analysis; the goals are clearly defined, realistic and address issues relevant to the participating organisations and to the action;
    • Activities: The activities selected from the three clusters are clearly identified, described and linked to the overall objectives of the project;
    • Innovation: the proposal considers state-of-the-art methods and techniques, and leads to innovative results and solutions for its field in general, or for the geographical context in which the project is implemented (e.g. content; outputs produced, working methods applied, organisations and persons involved or targeted);
    • Regional dimension: the proposal demonstrates its contribution to regional development, innovation and smart specialisation strategies, based on the identification of local/regional needs and challenges in each of the participating countries;
    • Cooperation and partnerships: the extent to which the proposal adequately identifies and involves the most relevant partners, that are necessary to realise the objectives of the project, and explains how it will establish strong and enduring relationships at both local and transnational levels, between the VET community and businesses (can be represented by chambers or associations), in which interactions are reciprocal and mutually beneficial;
    • European added value: the proposal clearly demonstrates the added value at the individual (learner and/or staff), institutional and systemic levels, generated through results that would be difficult to attain by the partners acting without European cooperation;
    • Internationalisation: the proposal demonstrates its contribution to the international dimension of VET excellence, including the development of strategies to foster VET transnational mobility of learners and staff, as well as sustainable partnerships;
    • Digital skills: the extent to which the proposal foresees activities related to digital skills development (e.g. skills anticipation, innovative curricula and teaching methodologies, guidance, etc.) related to the development of digital skills;
    • Green skills: the extent to which the proposal foresees activities (e.g. skills anticipation, innovative curricula and teaching methodologies, guidance, etc.) linked to the transition to a circular and green economy;
    • Social dimension: the proposal includes a horizontal concern throughout the various actions to address diversity and promote shared values, equality, including gender equality, and non-discrimination and social inclusion, including for people with special needs/fewer opportunities.

    Quality of the project design and implementation (maximum score 25 points)

    • Coherence: the overall project design ensures consistency between project objectives, activities and the budget proposed. The proposal presents a coherent and comprehensive set of appropriate activities and services to meet the identified needs and lead to the expected results. There are appropriate phases for preparation, implementation, monitoring, exploitation, evaluation and dissemination;
    • Activities: The work to be carried out under each of the activities selected from the three clusters are clearly described in terms of their expected outcomes/deliverables, their concrete contribution to the relevant work packages, and their coherence with the overall objectives of the project;
    • Methodology: the quality and feasibility of the methodology proposed and its appropriateness for producing the expected results;
    • Management: the coordinator shows high quality management, the ability to coordinate transnational networks and leadership in complex environment, and establishes solid management arrangements. Timelines, organisation, tasks and responsibilities are well defined and realistic. The proposal allocates appropriate resources to each activity. A clear set of Key Performance Indicators, and a timeline for their assessment and achievement are defined;
    • Budget: the budget provides for appropriate resources necessary for success, it is neither overestimated nor underestimated;
    • Work plan: quality and effectiveness of the work plan, including the extent to which the resources assigned to work packages are in line with their objectives and deliverables;  
    • Financial and quality control: control measures (continuous quality evaluation, peer reviews, benchmarking activities, etc.) and quality indicators ensure that the project implementation is of high quality and cost-efficient. Challenges/risks of the project are clearly identified and mitigating actions properly addressed. Expert review processes are planned as an integral part of the project. These processes include an independent external assessment at mid-term and at the end of the project;
    • If the project includes mobility activities (for learners and/or staff):
      • The quality of practical arrangements, management and support modalities;
      • The extent to which these activities are appropriate to the project's aims and involve the appropriate number of participants;
      • The quality of arrangements for the recognition and validation of participants' learning outcomes, in line with European transparency and recognition tools and principles.

    Quality of the partnership and the cooperation arrangements (maximum score 20 points)

    • Configuration: the project involves an appropriate mix of complementary participating organisations with the necessary profile, competences, experience and expertise to successfully deliver all aspects of the project. The role of each partner must be clearly identified, and its added-value explained;  
    • Upward convergence: the extent to which the partnership brings together organisations active in the field of vocational education and training, or in the world of work, that are at different stages of development of vocational excellence approaches, and allows for a smooth and effective exchange of expertise and knowledge among those partners;
    • Geographical dimension: the extent to which the partnership includes relevant partners from different geographical regions, as well as the extent to which the applicant has motivated the geographical composition of the partnership and demonstrated its relevance to the achievement of the objectives of the CoVEs; as well as the extent to which the partnership includes a wide and appropriate range of relevant actors at local and regional level;
    • Involvement of third countries not associated to the Programme: if applicable, clearly explain how the involvement of participating organisations from third countries not associated to the Programme brings an essential added value to the project;
    • Collaboration: an effective mechanism is proposed to ensure a good coordination, decision-making and communication between the participating organisations, participants and any other relevant stakeholder.

    Impact (maximum score 20 points)

    • Exploitation: the proposal demonstrates how the outcomes of the project will be used by the partners and other stakeholders. It provides means to measure exploitation within project lifetime and after;
    • Dissemination: the proposal provides a clear plan for the dissemination of results, and includes appropriate targets, activities, relevant timing, tools and channels to ensure that the results and benefits will be spread effectively to stakeholders, policy makers, guidance professionals, enterprises, young learners, etc. within and after the project’s lifetime; the proposal also indicates which partners will be responsible for dissemination;
    • Impact: the proposal demonstrates the potential impact of the project:  
      • On participants and participating organisations, during and after the project lifetime;
      • Outside the organisations and individuals directly participating in the project, as well as its potential for mainstreaming into regional, national and/or European VET skills development.
    • The proposal includes measures as well as clearly defined targets and indicators to monitor progress and assess the expected impact (short- and long-term);  
    • Sustainability: the proposal explains how the CoVE will be rolled out and further developed. The proposal includes the design of a long-term action plan for the progressive roll-out of project deliverables after the project has finished. This plan shall be based on sustained partnerships between education and training providers and key industry stakeholders at the appropriate level. It should include the identification of appropriate governance structures, as well as plans for scalability and financial sustainability, including the identification of financial resources (European, national and private) to ensure that the results and benefits achieved will have a long-term sustainability.

    To be considered for funding, applications must score at least 70 points (out of 100 points in total), also taking into account the necessary minimum pass score for each of the four award criteria: minimum 18 points for the “relevance of the project” category; minimum 13 points for “quality of the project design and implementation” and 11 points for the categories of “quality of the partnership and the cooperation arrangements” and “impact”. In ex aequo cases, priority will be given to highest scores for "relevance of the project" and then “impact”.

    As a general rule, and within the limits of existing national and European legal frameworks, results should be made available as open educational resources (OER) as well as on relevant professional, sectorial or competent authorities’ platforms. The proposal will describe how data, materials, documents and audio-visual and social media activity produced will be made freely available and promoted through open licences, and does not contain disproportionate limitations.

    Seal of Excellence

    The project proposals evaluated above the quality thresholds, with a total score equal to or higher than 75%, but that cannot be funded under Erasmus+ due to lack of available budget under this call for proposals, may be awarded with a Seal of Excellence certificate to attest the quality of the proposal and to facilitate its alternative funding at national or regional level.

    The Seal of Excellence is a quality label certificate awarded to quality project proposals that cannot be funded under Erasmus+ due to insufficient funds68 . The label recognises the quality of the proposal and facilitates the search for alternative funding. Funding bodies at national or regional level may decide to directly fund the Seal holder project proposal on the basis of the high quality evaluation process performed by the Commission’s independent experts, without performing a new full evaluation process. The award of the Seal of Excellence may also facilitate the alternative funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) or the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), in accordance with Article 73(4) of the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR)69 .

    Applicants should be made aware that the award of a Seal of Excellence certificate does not provide guarantee for automatic alternative funding, since the decision to potentially fund Seal holder project proposals is entirely discretionary to the Cohesion policy funds Managing Authorities, under ERDF or ESF+, or other funding bodies at national and regional level.

    If prior authorisation is provided by the applicant in the application form, the data of the Seal holders project proposal may be shared with Cohesion policy funds Managing Authorities and other potentially interested funding bodies at national or regional level through the National Agencies, in full respect of the rules governing the confidentiality of the proposal and the protection of personal data.


    What are the funding rules?

    This action follows a lump sum funding model. The amount of the single lump sum contribution will be determined for each grant based on the estimated budget of the action proposed by the applicants. The granting authority will fix the lump sum of each grant based on the proposal, evaluation result, funding rates and the maximum grant amount set in the call.

    The maximum EU grant per project is 4 million euros.

    How is the project lump sum determined?

    Applicants must fill in a detailed budget table according to the application form, taking into account the following points:   

    1. The budget should be detailed as necessary by beneficiary/-ies and organized in coherent work packages (for example divided into ‘project management’, ‘training’, ‘organization of events’, ‘mobility preparation and implementation’, ‘communication and dissemination’, ‘quality assurance’, etc.);   
    2. The proposal must describe the activities covered by each work package;
    3. Applicants must provide in their proposal a breakdown of the lump sum showing the share per work package (and, within each work package, the share assigned to each beneficiary and affiliated entity);
    4. Costs described can cover staff costs, travel and subsistence costs, equipment costs and subcontracting as well as other costs (such as dissemination of information, publishing or translation).

    Proposals will be evaluated according to the standard evaluation procedures with the help of internal and/or external experts. The experts will assess the quality of the proposals against the requirements defined in the call and the expected impact, quality and efficiency of the action.

    Following the proposal evaluation, the authorising officer will establish the amount of the lump sum, taking into account the findings of the assessment carried out. The lump sum value will be limited to a maximum of 80% of the estimated budget determined after evaluation.

    The grant parameters (maximum grant amount, funding rate, total eligible costs, etc.) will be fixed in the Grant Agreement. Financial support to third parties is not allowed. Volunteer and SME costs are allowed. Please refer to Part C of this Programme Guide, section 'Eligible direct costs'.

    The project achievements will be evaluated on the outcomes completed. This funding scheme will allow putting focus on the outputs rather than the inputs, thereby placing emphasis on the quality and level of achievement of measurable objectives.

    The proposal must include costs for at least one annual meeting (1 representative from each full partner of the project) organised by or at the initiative of the European Commission/European Education and Culture Executive Agency for the exchange of good practices and mutual learning between Centres of Vocational Excellence.

    More details are described in the model Grant Agreement available in the Funding and Tender Opportunities Portal (FTOP).

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