7 tips to improve your chances for the Horizon Europe programme

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 €94 Billion of Horizon Europe programme.

Read the article by our colleagues from ttopstart – a PNO life sciences & heath company.

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

7 tips to improve your chances for the Horizon Europe programme

1. Prepare your team and stay tuned.

Prepare internally for the upcoming changes in budget and requirements. The competition for HEU will be higher. It pays off to be prepared and assimilate the priorities of the programme as this provides an advantage over waiting until 2021. Make sure to schedule organizational/company meetings to process the new programme, understand the changes and identify its opportunities and requirements. Providing information and trainings helps to prepare your entire team.

2. Follow the news and be on top of the new developments.

The HEU content available so far is just a proposition. Delays on the final agreement are expected. Stay up to date with the latest announcements via our newsletter and frequently visit the website of the European Commission (external link).

Operate strategically

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

Study Europe’s ambitions and goals and how you can deliver them with your organization’s activities. This involves studying the three pillars of the programme, its unique components and the objectives behind them. For example, the challenges addressed within the thematic clusters will have to be tackled by intersectoral initiatives, whereas the Research and Innovation Missions require a multidisciplinary approach within a set timeframe and budget.

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 – to realize the expected impact. The dissemination and communication strategy must exceed being informative. They should effectively aid in achieving the impact. Measuring this impact will be more relevant, and hence specific KPIs 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 you need to align their particular incentives and conditions, ensuring 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 €94billion, is allocated to the second pillar. This encompasses challenges and missions that require excellent collaboration as they are to be tackled from a multidisciplinary and intersectoral approach. How can 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 build new relationships is a good strategy.

7. Start early.

It takes time to get an agreement amongst your partners to which grants you will apply.  The earlier you invest in these discussions the more fruitful and strategic collaborations will be. In September 2020 the first work programmes are expected to be published. Hence, it is advised to 1) assess your topics based on current information before the summer and to 2) Reach out to the relevant network around the summer. Hence, it is advised to 1) assess your topics based on current information and map your stakeholders before the summer and to 2) reach out to the relevant network around the summer.


If you have questions about Horizon Europe, or if you need additional information, our consultants are at your disposal to guide you throughout the implementation of this new European funding programme.