I have been in my cluster six National Contact Point (NCP) role just over a year. I would like to share some of my hints and tips that I have picked up on how to approach the hugely complex Horizon Europe framework programme.
What are hints and tips?
Having volunteered to write this blog I decided to consult the dictionary for clarification of the terminology. So, for the avoidance of doubt a:
- hint is a slight or indirect indication or suggestion, or a small piece of practical information or advice
- tip is a small but useful piece of practical advice.
So, to all intents and purposes, hints and tips mean the same thing:
- practical useful suggestions
It sounds like the perfect and shortest job description for an NCP working on Horizon Europe.
Looking at the work programmes
The work programmes contain the detailed information about each cluster (a sector or group of sectors), so that you can narrow down your search.
Many of the opportunities and competitions across many sectors are opening from the end of October. You can find these on the European Commission’s funding and tenders portal.
These links provide background information for each work programme:
- health (European Commission)
- culture, creativity and inclusive society (European Commission)
- civil security for society (European Commission)
- digital, industry and space (European Commission)
- climate, energy and mobility (European Commission)
- food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment (European Commission).
Searching through hundreds of pages of a work programme is no-one’s idea of fun, except perhaps an NCP.
Refine what you are looking for
‘Control F’ is your best friend for a keyword search to refine what you are looking for in your work programme. Searching out appropriate topics relevant to your expertise is key to success. Do not overlook the introductory sections to the cluster and the sections.
Also consider the strategies and policy drivers that create the context for Horizon Europe funding over the next seven years. This will frame your thinking when looking at the opportunity topic content.
In addition the European Commission has a programme of useful webinars and info days which are essential to gain understanding of Horizon Europe.
Don’t waste your time
Beware of the square peg and round hole trap.
Trying to squeeze your idea into an opportunity topic that only loosely fits is time wasted and extremely frustrating to boot. If it does not fit don’t force it.
It is better to consider each topic as a series of questions that the European Commission want answering, with your proposal addressing those questions with precise and well evidenced actions.
List out all the elements of the scope and the expected outcomes required and be ruthlessly honest in going through them to determine what you can realistically deliver. To succeed in this task, you will need the assistance of collaborators in the form of your consortium partners to fulfil the topic requirements.
Cooperate to compete
European cooperation is at the heart of Horizon Europe research funding and is fundamental to a successful application. A well-balanced group with complementary skills and expertise will yield more than the sum of its parts. That cooperation across disciplines and organisations is necessary to create a consortium that is fit for purpose and will deliver against the demands of the opportunity.
The elephant in the room is that these Horizon Europe opportunities are extremely competitive and only the best will succeed. The evaluation process is transparent and fairly executed.
Creating a successful pan European consortium is a challenging task and requires effort. Being proactive in working with your existing networks is the start of the process, expanding those by reaching out using brokerage events and partner searches.
Checking out what has gone before in terms of previously funded projects can give a useful insight into what and who has been successful in the past and what can be built upon. CORDIS is a fully searchable database that will provide information on successful projects consortium coordinators and members with their contact details.
You are not alone
You are not alone in this.
Seek advice from the UK NCPs and other organisations such as Innovate UK EDGE and the Knowledge Transfer Network.
We are here to help you through this process.
So please get in touch early in your Horizon Europe journey and we will be pleased to help in any way we can.
Useful contacts for more information
You can go to the Innovate UK website
You can go to the UKRI website
Top image: Credit: Rutchapong/GettyImages