Horizon Europe – Essentials of Proposal Planning

For those of you eagerly awaiting the start of Horizon Europe to begin applying for your next big grant, the delay in the release of the official work programmes until April is undoubtedly an irritating setback. In case you weren’t already aware, the call topics available during the first two years of Horizon Europe were previously expected in March (after previously being expected in January), but are now due in April.

However, despite the frustrating delays that COVID-19 has made all too commonplace across all areas of research, it’s worth taking this time to ensure you are ready to shoot from the starting block come April and hit the ground running. The EC has even indicated that ERC and EIC work programmes may be published even earlier than April, so don’t risk being caught unprepared, and start being proactive.

To help you with your development, we have prepared a few choice pieces of advice, relevant to any consortia considering participating in Horizon Europe.

Plan what you can now

It may be cliché, but it really is never too early to start planning your application (although few would consider the month before official release to be too early!). Quality of consortia looks to be an even higher priority in Horizon Europe proposals than in Horizon 2020, and the hunt for good partners takes time to do right. Don’t procrastinate, or the best partners will have been snapped up by competitors who were more proactive, leaving you to make do with what’s left.

Ensure you are Aligned

Matching the call topic is essential. The science also needs to be great, but if you bring the right idea to the wrong call topic, you’re destined for failure with no hope of recovery. If you have a great idea, do not rush to apply it wholesale to wherever it fits best. Rather, evaluate how the core aspects of your idea align with different call topic scopes, outcomes, and expected impacts. Evolve your idea with a particular call topic from the very start, focusing on how your idea fits the call. Benefits your ideas may bring outside the scope of the call are just frosting for your proposal, never treat them as substance!

Give the Evaluators what they’re looking for

Evaluators will strictly follow the evaluation criteria when scoring your complete proposal, and when the necessary scores for funding are as high as they are, any missing marks can be fatal. You may have developed an excellent proposal that you know is perfectly aligned with the call topic, but if you don’t methodically answer each specific question that the reviewers need answered… good luck with the resub. Ensure when planning your proposal that the written content and work proposed together will unambiguously answer the evaluation criteria questions. It’s not much extra work, but it can make all the difference.

These tips should help you get off on the right foot and give your idea a very solid foundation to build your proposal upon. Whether you currently have only a faint idea or a fully fleshed concept, if you would like professional help with developing your proposal, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Modus. More Horizon Europe tips and updates to come, so stay tuned, and good luck!



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