If you are considering applying to Horizon Europe Collaborative projects grant, and do not have experience with Horizon Europe or its previous programs – this is an excellent article to begin with!
While there is a very wide span of information that must be taken into account when applying to a Horizon Europe collaborative projects grant, we made a useful “first steps” article. In this article, we focus on all the basic aspects and requirements that are related to a Horizon Europe Collaborative project grant. We will review the expected proposal preparation path, and explore important terms such as Work Program, destinations, topics, consortium, excellence, impact, implementation, budget and more. Within this article, you will find references to additional important articles we’ve written on each specific Horizon Europe term or requirement. We invite you to treat this as a helpful guide to refer to throughout your grant preparation journey.
*Note – this article will refer to the top-down collaborative projects grants within Horizon Europe, which constitute the vast majority of grants in the program. Should you seek other forms of grants within this programme (ERC, EIC, MSCA, RI, ERA, etc) continue on to our Knowledge Base and its dedicated grant sections.
Preparatory actions for Horizon Europe collaborative projects
Horizon Europe Collaborative projects have a wide scope of funding opportunities, all listed in the work programs of Horizon Europe (you can look them up in the Horizon Europe funding and tender portal). It is your first task to realize the area and topic in the program for which you wish to apply.
The vast majority of these funding opportunities in Horizon Europe are listed as specific topics under the work program’s clusters and destinations (check these out in the work programs descriptions). Take your time to navigate through these work programs, clusters, and destinations in order to find the most suitable topic(s) for your specific research project.
Successfully matching your project to a chosen topic
Once you believe you have found a suitable topic, take due time to ensure it is a strong enough match to your project. It is imperative that your potential project will fully match your chosen topic’s specific requirements. Experience shows that choosing a topic that does not match your project idea and scope will likely lower your chances of funding success. On the contrary, a successful match between your project and the chosen topic is a much better start and highly increases your chances of funding success. Therefore, an initial and very important first step is to choose the best fit for your project.
Forming your Horizon Europe Collaborative project
Once you have selected the target topic in the work program, the next step is to start developing the grant application, first by forming your project. The main efforts for that would be:
- Conceptualizing your project’s grant application. This might sound simple, but experience shows that it is quite a difficult task to form your research/project in the accepted shape expected by the program. Clearly, you know what you want to do and achieve with the grant. However, when applying to Horizon Europe collaborative grants, the application must fully adhere to what the program would like you to do and achieve with all your partners together (see more below about working in a consortium). Shifting from what you want to do alone to what you should do according to the program with a set of partners is the typical challenge that all applicants must work with and successfully address in order to have a highly competitive grant application. Our main recommendation here is to ensure you fully understand both the programme’s high-level requirements, as well as your topic’s specific and unique expectations. This process will increase the chances that your conceptualized idea will fit within the borders of the grant.
- Declaring the project’s novelty (to be in line with the project’s concept). Novelty is not a straightforward declaration for these types of grants. It can be elusive and affected by all sorts of factors. Since a large majority of funding opportunities within Horizon Europe Collaborative projects revolve around the concept of novelty, we recommend reading our article about how to declare the novelty right for your grant application.
- Complementing the novelty declaration, in some cases, it is also recommended to refer to the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) issue. Briefly, Horizon Europe has selected the TRL scale as an indicator to better position the requested projects in the program. Therefore, it is important to understand where your specific project is positioned in light of this chosen scale.
Forming your project does not end here. The major next steps include forming the consortium to work with and developing the application file, as detailed below. The process that we have described above is truly the very basic first step. Note that for some project proposals that process might be more complex and may include additional layers.
Working in a Consortium
Top-down collaborative projects in Horizon Europe are consortium-based. This means that a large portion of both your pre-award proposal preparation time and post-award project implementation will center around the consortium of partners you will choose for the project. There are many important aspects to consider when constructing the consortium that will work on your project. In this regard, we bring forth the following important topics and articles for further reading:
- Constructing a highly competitive consortium might be a challenge. We recommend reading all about that in the following article: https://enspire.science/building-a-consortium-horizon-europe-dont-bring-friends/
- Another aspect is to decide who leads the grant application, and who is going to be the project’s coordinator. First, we recommend learning about what it means to be a project coordinator: https://enspire.science/horizon-europe-project-coordinator/.
- And then, we recommend considering the dilemma associated with the Project coordinator’s role: https://enspire.science/coordination-dilemma-in-horizon-europe/
- You may also wonder whether you should join an existing consortium or lead one yourself. Learn more about this important topic here: https://enspire.science/horizon-europe-shall-i-lead-a-consortium-or-join-one/
Drafting the grant application
Having conceptualized the idea behind your project, declared the novelty, and constructed your consortium of partners- it is now time to draft the grant application. This is going to be your main task during the pre-award phase of your Horizon Europe collaborative project grant application. It consists of the following core elements:
- Excellence. This is where you should present what your project is about and convince the reviewers that it should be funded. The excellence part includes the project’s objectives, ambition and the suggested methodology. We recommend reading the details about how to present a perfect excellence chapter here.
- Impact. This is one of the crucial, yet elusive, elements of the Horizon Europe grant proposals. It cannot be taken lightly. We recommend reading our detailed articles in our Horizon Europe Impact section guide.
- Implementation. This is where you should present how your project is going to meet its objectives, by delineating a detailed work plan. There is a myriad of elements that should be taken into consideration for that matter. We recommend addressing this issue, starting with this Implementation article.
- Budget. Last, but not least – the budget which derives from the workplan presented in the implementation section. It is highly recommended to construct the budget request right in these grant applications. For that matter, we have prepared the following Horizon Europe budget preparation guide.
Next steps for you…
As you can see above, there are many important aspects to take into consideration for competitive Horizon Europe Collaborative project proposals. There are also many other aspects we didn’t tap into in this introductory summary.
The next steps are:
- Check out our recommended timeline for preparing a Horizon Europe grant application. You can learn about it here: https://enspire.science/horizon-europe-proposal-development-timeline/
- Join our Horizon Europe courses:
- Refer to our Horizon Europe knowledge base to learn more.