Writing a successful Horizon Europe proposal is not an easy task as it requires a lot of preparation and research before even beginning to write down the proposal itself! The development of a detailed plan to avoid traps and inconsistencies is crucial in order to submit winning project proposals.
Here are the five steps that need to be followed to construct a successful project application.
Step 1: Make sure that Horizon Europe is the right programme for you
There are many European programmes that offer funding to new projects and ideas, therefore it is very important to understand the framework of the Horizon Europe programme and submit a proposal that is totally aligned with its cross-cutting priorities. The EU’s funding programme for research and innovation targets key issues such as climate change, EU’s competitiveness and growth, development of world-class research infrastructures, green and digital transition, international cooperation, and asks for state-of-the-art ideas and projects that will introduce new concepts and ambitious solutions to some of the major global challenges of our time.
Horizon Europe defines the following five main mission areas; each mission will operate as a synthesis of actions to achieve a measurable goal that could not be achieved by individual actions.
- Adaptation to climate change, including societal transformation
- Fight against cancer
- Healthy oceans, seas, coastal & inland waters
- Climate-neutral and smart cities
- Soil health & food
Step 2: Choose the right call to submit your proposal
Having established that Horizon Europe is the right programme for you, it is crucial to also choose the call that best suits your application. It is a common mistake among applicants to often choose the wrong call to submit their proposals. Every Horizon Europe programme and sub-programme has a biannual work programme (WP) with a variety of objectives, topics, calls, and budgets. Within every call, its specific challenge, scope, expected impact, and the required type of action are described in detail . It is very important to read the call thoroughly, and always have in mind how your project is going to address the issues that the European Commision is asking through the specific call.
Step 3: Create a solid and ambitious Consortium
Since the majority of Horizon European Grants are collaborative projects, it is more than obvious that finding a diverse group of partners and putting together a world-class consortium is of great importance to the success of your application. A wide ranging consortium should involve entities such as universities, research centers, individual academics and scientists, innovative businesses, etc. However, within the proposal you should be able to justify why you have chosen the specific partners, state which specific part of the research is assigned to each one and demonstrate how their proficiency will add value to the project. All of them should have the experience and expertise to fulfil their commitments and deliver efficiently the tasks they are in charge of.
Step 4: Try to think as the evaluator
When writing your proposal it is very important to approach it from the evaluator’s point of view. Regardless if you are submitting a proposal for Horizon Europe or Erasmus+, the evaluation process remains mainly the same. Evaluators will want to see a well-written proposal with excellent English, and an innovative idea accurately expressed that will be to the point, address the subject matter of the call, have a clear impact, and most importantly, provide a long-term solution.
To guide you in the right direction, the European Commission provides a self-evaluation form that aims to help applicants identify the weaknesses in their proposals and find ways to improve them.
This form shows what the evaluators are looking for, when examining a proposal. The three main criteria used in the evaluation process are :
- Quality and efficiency of the implementation.
Step 5: Take time to write the proposal and submit it early
You need to do research long before the deadline of the call you are interested in. The whole process of writing down your proposal, finding partners to form the consortium, and arranging all the necessary details and parameters requires a lot of time, otherwise you will end up with a non satisfactory result that will be evaluated accordingly.
Upon completing a solid draft of your proposal, the first thing you should do is upload it to the Portal. You have the right to make as many changes as you like until the final submission date. So, take advantage of that feature! There are applicants who missed the deadline because they left the submission to the last minute!