Horizon Europe funding proposals- what's new?

Horizon Europe has gradually entered our lives during the spring.

Horizon Europe has gradually entered our lives during the spring. First European Research Council deadlines are already behind, emergency calls to fight Covid19 ongoing, and the main work programme adoption is just around the corner. If all goes as planned, May will mark the “grand opening” of the Horizon Europe calls. To smoothen the transition, we want to walk you through the structure and novelties of the Horizon Europe proposal.

Proposal consists of 2 parts, part A web-based forms which are filled in in the Funding & Tenders portal and part B the narrative part which is added as separate attachment in the portal. As a new field in the forms, you will need to identify the researchers involved in the proposal. This will enable the European Commission to follow-up on researcher careers which is one of the performance indicators of Horizon Europe. Also, the role of the participating organisations needs to be defined. Related to this the information on participants’ publication, previous activities and infrastructure and technical equipment related to the call has been moved to Part A from its previous place in Part B. Ethics self-assessment has also moved place and is followed by a security issues table. Having an organisation level gender equality plan is an eligibility criterion in Horizon Europe. UOULU applicants can happily tick “yes” as our University of Oulu Equality and Diversity Plan fulfills the criteria.

Short is still not the best adjective to describe Horizon Europe proposals. Nevertheless, there will be a substantial reduction in the maximum page length. For the main project types (RIA, IA), the length can be at most 45 pages (compared to H2020 70 pages) and for coordination and support actions (CSA) even shorter 30 pages (H2020 50 pages). The limit for a first-stage application remains the same 10 pages.

The narrative part includes three sections that each correspond to an evaluation criterion: Excellence, Impact and Quality and efficiency of the implementation. To help the applicants to describe the project activities in the set page limits, the new proposal template provides indicative page lengths and explanations on what exactly should be included in each section. Although the sections are the same as in Horizon 2020, you should note that Horizon Europe has its own policy priorities and emphasis on horizontal issues. For example, open science practices are integrated in the programme and evaluated in the proposal both as part of the methodology and expertise of the participating organisations. Gender equality is required not only through an organisation-level plan, but individual proposals need to consider the gender in the whole research and innovation process and describe it in relation to the proposed activities. Horizon Europe introduces a new “Key Impact Pathways” approach to impact. As impact is omnipresent, we have devoted a specific blog entry to discuss the impact related novelties.

An important change to keep in mind is that management of the project is no longer an evaluation criteria. It should still be dedicated a work package of its own where the overall tasks and deliverables are described. Another novelty is that a description of ethical issues is to be included in the application forms in the portal (part A) and not in B4-5 as before. In case the project contains ethical issues, commission will automatically add an ethics work package if the project is funded. So it might be advisable to consider this in advance and do the ethics self-assessment in in the portal in the beginning of the proposal planning phase.

To help you writing better applications University of Oulu Research and project services has prepared annotated templates with useful tips and examples. Contact your faculty’s research funding specialist or tutkimuksen.tukipalvelut (at) oulu.fi to receive your copy of the template.