Preparation, submission and assessment of applications

Home Participate Preparation, submission and assessment of applications

The European Commission publishes calls for proposals based on the Horizon Europe work programmes. All work packages (WPs) have been made available on the Funding and Tenders Portal, along with other necessary documents for the application package, including general requirements, guidelines, legislation, templates, and budget patterns specific to each programme. The calls for proposals are grouped by subject areas – so-called «destinations». The destinations are based on the EU’s policy priorities and the desired impact of the EU’s funding.

Preparation a high-quality project proposal is the most important step for your Horizon Europe project. To optimize your preparation, it is suggested that you commence the development of your proposal 8 to 12 months in advance of the call deadline.

Once you have established your concept and secured initial collaborators, it is recommended that you register on the Funding and Tenders Portal by creating an EU Login account. Following this, you may proceed with the application writing process.

It is suggested that a minimum of two months be allocated for the writing phase of the proposal, with an additional week set aside for proofreading.

The development of a Horizon Europe project includes a schematic work plan that clarifies the project structure. One tool that could be considered for this purpose is the «GANTT chart», which allows for the specification of task breakdowns and setting of vital deadlines.

The text acknowledges the various steps involved in completing the application form, including drafting, editing, and administrative procedures. It also highlights the importance of identifying signatories and uploading the application. It is important to note that deadlines may differ depending on the institution. In some cases, seeking financial or legal services may be necessary to validate certain aspects of the application. Coordinators may consider using traditional office tools such as Excel or project management software to facilitate the planning process.

The initial stage of project engineering involves the creation of a project sheet. This document outlines the project and connects it with the topics suggested by the European Commission. The purpose of this «flagship» document is to facilitate communication with program officers and national contact points, in order to position the project effectively.

At the same time, it is worth getting the consortium members together to share the various operational tasks and budget elements, after signing a confidentiality agreement. The first version of the proposal should be ready in about seven weeks. This will allow time to make changes, if necessary, but also to tailor the proposal to the requirements of the European Commission. This timetable also allows time for editing, ideally by a third party not involved in the drafting process. The aim is to obtain an external opinion before that of the selection experts: an independent editor will spot unexplained acronyms or methodological errors more quickly.

The project proposal consists of two parts. Part A is to be fulfilled directly in the Submission service system and it consists of administrative information about the applicants, the project, and the budget. Part B, the so-called technical part of the proposal, is commonly divided into three sections: Excellence, Impact, and the Quality and Efficiency of the Implementation. 

Nota bene. Part B, it is necessary for applicants to upload a PDF document utilizing the templates that have been provided in the submission system for the specific call or topic.

Part B should include an explanation of the project’s background and goals, as well as a demonstration of how these goals will be achieved in the following three sections.

  1. Excellence. This section aims to clarify the project’s objectives and their relevance to the project. It is important to demonstrate that the proposed work is ambitious and goes beyond the current state-of-the-art. The proposed methodology, including the underlying concepts, models, and assumptions, must be proven to be sound.

Furthermore, the project will adopt interdisciplinary approaches and take into account gender in research and innovation content. The proposal ought to highlight the implementation of open science practices, such as the sharing and management of research outputs, and, if applicable, the participation of citizens, civil society, and end-users. It is worth noting that these evaluations will be impartial and explicitly labelled as such. (Excellence part only for European Research Council (ERC)).

  1. Impact. This section deals with the credibility of the methods and procedures that will be used to achieve the expected results and impacts specified in the work programme. It also indicates the high plausibility of the estimated scale and significance of the project’s contributions.

The Impact section aims to demonstrate how your project could contribute to the outcomes and impacts described in the Work Programme (new approach to impact: Horizon Europe Key Impacts Pathways (KIPs)). It is important to highlight the effectiveness and quality of the measures employed to maximize the expected outcomes and impacts, as outlined in the dissemination and exploitation (D&E) plan, including communication activities.

  1. Implementation. This section should demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of the work plan and risk assessment. It should provide details on the appropriateness of the effort and resources allocated to the work packages. The role and capacity of each participant should be emphasized, and the extent to which the consortium can provide the necessary expertise should be described.

Nota bene. It is important to ensure that the proposed work is within the scope of the Work Programme topic you’ve chosen. One common mistake that can occur in proposal writing is to focus excessively on the Implementation section, providing detailed work plans, while neglecting the Excellence and Impact sections. Therefore, it is crucial that Part B explains why the project deserves funding and how it aligns with the programme objectives in general.

There is a substantial reduction in the maximum length of a Horizon Europe proposal (exceptions, if any, are specified in the call):

  • RIAs and IAs type of actions: limit for a full application is 45 pages,
  • CSAs: limit is 30 pages,
  • First stage proposals: limit is 10 pages,
  • EIC Pathfinder: limit is 17 pages.

Each call also states whether the evaluation takes form as a single-stage or a two-stage process. In case of the single-stage evaluation, the consortium needs to submit the full application right away; in case of the first step in a two-stage evaluation, the consortium submits a shorter version of the proposal.

Applications must be submitted before the call deadline on the Funding and tenders portal.