7 tips to improve your chances for the Horizon Europe programme

21 July 2021

Based on the newest updates and our experiences with previous EU programmes we give you 7 tips to improve your chances when applying to the €95.5 Billion of the Horizon Europe programme.

The Horizon Europe (HEU) programme is a reality now. This follow-up on Horizon2020 is the largest programme to date and provides new opportunities for funding your research and innovation, for extending existing partnerships or for establishing new alliances to improve impact. In this blog we provide tips to increase your chances for the HEU programme. To find out more about the structure of the HEU programme, have a look at our previous blog

Based on the newest updates and our experiences with previous EU programmes we use this blog to provide 7 tips to improve your chances to the €95.5 Billion of Horizon Europe programme.

Prepare internally and stay tuned

1. Prepare your team and stay tuned.

The HEU comes with a good number of novelties with the R&I Missions, the consolidation of the European Innovation Council, or the new approach to Open Science, among others. It pays off to be prepared and assimilate the priorities of the programme in advance, as we expect that the competition will be much higher.

2. Get your paperwork in order

Prepare internally for the changes in budget and requirements, since one of the objectives of HEU is to reduce administrative burden and introduce simpler rules to facilitate participation and make processes more efficient. Make sure to schedule organisational/company meetings to process the new programme, understand the changes and identify its opportunities and requirements. Providing information and trainings help to prepare your entire team.

Operate strategically

3. Align your ambitions with Horizon Europe’s goals.

As funding body, the EC has very clear expectations for its investment. You should aim to convince the reviewers that your project will be the one delivering on their expected impacts. To achieve that, we suggest to:
• Read and understand the strategic documents & Work Programme
• Think of your research and innovation ideas as a way to help Europe
• Align your ambitions and strengths with Horizon EU’s and EC’s priorities

4. Explore how you can leverage the new participation element.

3.3% of the budget is saved for Widening participation and spreading excellence. This encompasses a diversity of activities aimed at 1) fostering collaborations, 2) reducing the R&I gap, and 3) increasing the efficiency of existing funding. The idea is to support less research-intensive countries and improve access to existing knowledge and tools for all European countries. By facilitating the mobility of researchers and introducing a “hop-on” option, the HEU aims to enable widening countries to join a consortium via additional funding after a project has been granted.

5. Don’t copy your H2020 plans.

Doing things in the same way as in H2020 is not going to work. The new HEU is all about impact and sustainability.

Be impact-oriented: start with the end in mind. New proposals will have to go one step further in their impact sections. Delivery of the necessary outputs – directly to all the relevant stakeholders – is crucial to realise the expected impact. The dissemination and communication strategies must exceed being informative. They should effectively aid in achieving the impact. Measuring this impact will be more relevant, and hence specific Key Performance Indicators for each activity need to be used.

Sustainability by design: It will be key to plan the long-term sustainability of the project. The EC wants to avoid short-lived initiatives that result in a loss of resources, knowledge, and momentum. This makes their funding efforts very inefficient. Ensuring sustainability requires involving key stakeholders and other major players in the future impact of your project. This means that you need to align with their particular incentives and conditions, ensuring that they will be covered in the strategy.

Build allies

6. Define your collaboration strategy.

To make the most of this 7-year long programme you need partners to accomplish your goals. More than half of the total budget, €52 of the €95.5 billion, is allocated to the second pillar. This includes challenges and missions that require excellent collaboration as they are to be tackled from a multidisciplinary and intersectoral approach. How do you find the best partners? You may need to think broader than your existing partnerships in order to deliver your innovation to society. Mapping the stakeholders in your sector/topic and building new relationships is a good strategy.

7. Start early.

It takes time to get an agreement amongst your partners regarding the grants you will apply for. The earlier you invest time in these discussions the more fruitful and strategic collaborations will be. The final work programme for 2021- 2022 has just been published in June 2021, so now is the time to assess those topics that interest you and reach out to the relevant network.


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