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Top tips for creating a winning Horizon 2020 proposal

Written by Kelly Hunter on 3 May 2016

Guest blog from Professor Elena Gaura, Horizon 2020 assessor, who gave a talk on creating a stellar Horizon 2020 proposal.

Main Image
Proposal; The Pile of Business Documents on the Desk

© Shutterstock

I gave a talk at Enterprise Europe Network's event on nanotechnologies and advanced materials. Here’s a summary of the main points.


I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to be:


  • informed: read past successful bids, attend information days, understand criteria

  • strategic: bid as part of a clear business plan to engage with sponsors at specific TRLs, on specific themes

  • prepared: start early and allow 2 weeks for fact checking and proofreading - errors will mean you fail

  • networked: use Enterprise Europe Network to help you find international partners, Knowledge Transfer Network to help you find UK partners and your sector National Contact Point for help advice and as a sounding board.


Your time to shine


Treat this like a pitch, and think through the project proposal from a 'delivery' perspective.


Write to the call, for the expert evaluators. Give them clarity of the big picture which follows through to the detail. Keep a concise style and pepper with evidence throughout.


Proposals are evaluated by a panel of 3 to 4 people from industry and academia who’ll reach consensus on scores. As evaluators, we get excited about feasible and outstanding science. Don’t re-pitch with a refreshed version of a previously rejected idea or science. Respond to new calls with ideas to match!


Commercial exploitation, while addressing societal challenges


Understand the market that the outcomes will enable/grow/address and be ready to justify with business and technical detail.


Look also beyond the individual funding call, and consider EU strategy and H2020 purpose (tackling society's biggest challenges).


Find the right partners


Having the right partners - from concept to implementation - is critical to a successful bid and Enterprise Europe Network has a live database of potential partners to consider. Ask yourself whether potential partners have a track record in what they’re being put forward for, with impressive credentials as well as the past work to back it up.


Know and present the whole consortium’s strengths and bear in mind that assessors look at your website to check-up your claims.


Winning consortia offer the lot: a full business chain from research excellence to scale business exploration; a track record that matches the call and concept; an exploitation partner that is committed and able to deliver as required at scale.