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Horizon Europe: What we've learned so far...

Since Horizon Europe started in earnest in 2021, we have been very busy with our clients submitting applications across numerous disciplines and call areas. While much of Horizon Europe (HEU) remains similar to Horizon 2020, a lot has changed. Here are a few things we have learnt recently from helping our clients with proposal submissions:

  • 1: Watch the template: The generic template downloadable from the HEU website is not always the same as the call template. We recommend that you register your project first and download the specific template associated with the call to ensure you are using the correct version.

  • 2: You will need to be more succinct: HEU applications are much shorter than the equivalent Horizon 2020 application. Some templates have been reduced to 45 pages (and even 30 pages for some CSA actions), which is a huge reduction in available space. Consequently, you will need to plan out your proposal carefully to ensure you only detail the key messages. There is page count guidance per section in the template and we can, of course, help here too.

  • 3: The expectation relating to deliverables has changed: HEU wants fewer formal deliverables per project; the requirement is typically 10-15 in contrast to Horizon 2020 where the number of deliverables would be around 20-30. We believe this may be because each deliverable needs to be assessed and approved by the Project Monitoring Officer (PMO) and with each PMO typically looking after 10-15 projects, this creates a huge burden for them. Therefore, you will need to be much more focussed in your approach. We strongly recommend that you follow the guidance and only deliver key outputs where necessary. If you need intermediate deliverables, we recommend creating non-formal “task deliverables” that you do not submit to the EC or use milestones as control points instead.

  • 4: HEU “Destinations” make Impact more difficult: The Impact section has changed somewhat and the introduction of HEU “Destinations” has muddied the waters. What is clear from the new Impact section is that the Commission expects applicants to show clear pathways to impact from their project. Even if the project is at relatively low Technology Readiness Level, proposals are still expected to show how the outputs can ultimately lead to longer-term benefits. This is fine, but the new HEU Destinations are broad and cut across numerous social and technological areas, which makes defining and quantifying impacts quite difficult. If you work with us, we will help you adopt a Theory of Change approach which creates a very clear pathway from your objectives, to outputs, to impact.

  • 5: Open science/data policy and gender dimension: While the Commission has always required open science and data policies within a project, there is now an even greater emphasis. Proposals will have to describe their approach clearly and comprehensively to stand a chance of being funded. Moreover, the Gender Dimension has also been strengthened. While it was not an admissibility criterion in 2021, all public bodies and higher education authorities submitting proposals from 2022 must have a Gender Equality Plan in place before signature of the Grant Agreement. Moreover, there must be clear integration of the Gender Dimension into your research (if applicable), i.e. research activities are designed to ensure different genders and how they may affect results are taken into account.

  • 6: Part A and section 4-5 have changed: In Horizon 2020, Section 4 was there to detail the relevance of the partners and their related expertise. Section 5 related to ethics and security. These two sections have now been subsumed into Part A and is filled in online by each partner. All of your partners will need to log in to the Portal (so will need a Partner Identification Code or PIC number) to fill in their details. Part A is now quite time-consuming, so please allow sufficient time for your partners to complete it.

We have recently heard of some client successes with HEU applications, which is great news, and shows our approach to and understanding of HEU is on the right track. However, as more results of proposal evaluations start to come back (including the inevitable failures), this will further inform us on how to make your HEU applications truly competitive.

Our Services for Horizon Europe

We will continue to offer the same great appraisal or writing services we have offered under Horizon 2020 and other related programmes and make sure that your application targets the right themes and priorities. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this with us.