If you are an active organisation, academic institution or company working in the field of research and science in Europe and searching for great funding opportunities, you are on the right track! Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). So how do you make sure you have a project that can get funded?
Well… The programme comprises a list of different thematic sections from which the most common include: Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges. Have a look at the calls on the European Commission Participant portal to find your potential project’s theme.
But in order to get funded, there are a few things that you need to know! Be aware that project selection is highly competitive. Just to give you an idea, under Horizon 2020 calls, the success rate is about 14% or, in other words, only 1 in 6 projects receive funding. That should boost your motivation to stand out from your competitors and be very SMART (Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Realistic – Time-bound) in designing your proposal and answering the call.
We are sure you found an innovative and very interesting project and are excited and determined to get on writing your proposal. This is perfect but this is only after you dissect and understand the call text! First things first …reading and understanding a call in depth is a prerequisite to draft an excellent proposal, and this is where you will make a striking difference as it will help you build your proposal step by step, taking all requirements into account.
Since Sparks & Co has been a partner in many H2020 proposals, we can share with you our expertise and provide you with a few tips on how to read a H2020 European call:
1. Identify your TOTA
TO : Above all, determine the TOPIC corresponding to your area of expertise.
At the top of the page, you will find the TOPICS of calls, under different pillars: Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership, Societal Challenges, Science With and For Society, Spreading excellence and widening participation. Some topics can be encompassed by one or more pillars since the EC tries as much as possible to foster transversal projects. So, you will be likely to find a “Climate change” topic under both the Industrial Leadership and the Societal Challenges pillars.
TA : Identify the TYPE of ACTION you are aiming to develop.
For example, are you building a network of experts to support or coordinate an action? Choose a CSA: Coordination and Support Action! Are you rather aiming to deliver a product/process at the end of the project? If yes, this might be a RIA (Research and Innovation Action).
Once you answered the TOTA, you will have found the appropriate call for your project proposal. Bear in mind that the call must not be adapted to your project but that you must answer the challenges and objectives of the call with your research!
2. Understand the objectives of the call:
The first part of the call tells you the technicalities: what it is (RIA, CSA, IA, etc.), the submission date and some other details.
Then the topic description begins. Firstly is the section entitled Specific Challenge. It contextualises the stakes of the call and the issues that it attempts to address and encourages you to transform those into objectives. The Scope section includes the expected results of the project and the appropriate budget allowing the Specific Challenge to be addressed.
The Expected Impact section provides you with the outputs and sometimes stakeholders that the project should reach.
3. Select your partners
You need to build a consortium of European partners. The expected number of countries’ participants is mentioned in the call description; read the mentioned eligibility conditions. Make sure you meet the geographical coverage to ensure a relevant scope of action, thus increasing the outcomes of the project. A very important criterion to remember is to select your partners based on what they could bring to the project, not necessarily where they’re from! If your project already meets the geographical requirements of the call then base your decisions on the “best fit” for the proposal.
Partner search is facilitated by National Contact Points or by the partner search web page. Read more on the Partner Search page of the of the Online manual. Non-EU countries can also have a lot of opportunities for cooperation in H2020.
4. Be aware of the budget
You can find the funding amount under the “Scope” section of the call (from thousands to sometimes millions). The budget varies per type of action. For example, a CSA will need you to allocate more in certain areas (such as communication and dissemination) than a RIA as you will be aiming to foster synergies between various stakeholders and support other initiatives.
Read the Rules for Participation to get acquainted with standard budgetary conditions and make sure each partner’s contribution gets its fair share!
5. Keep the deadline in mind
A project takes a lot of time and human investment! You will need to organise Skype or phone meetings regularly, coordinate and assign workpackages to different partners, follow-up, finalise the budget… All of this is a long and evolutionary process. Thus, it is important that you set up a plan from the beginning of the proposal writing and establish a time strategy, convening of meeting dates and an internal submission date in order to be ready to submit your final proposal in due time.
We hope that these tips will be useful for your proposal drafting!
If you are engaged in a H2020 call proposal, and are looking for an expert in SMART Communication, Dissemination & Exploitation strategy, Sparks & Co would be very excited to hear about your exciting proposal! Give us a call or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
She moved to Paris in June 2017 to fulfill the role of International Cooperation Assistant.
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