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How to start a Horizon Europe project

In the past months I had the pleasure to work with 34 partners from ten European countries (+ Turkey) on a Horizon Europe proposal in the food sector. With less than five months to complete a 45-page proposal, agreeing on a 10 Mio € budget, navigating among digital tools, and generating a team atmosphere between scientists, industry partners and NGOs, the tasks were numerous for the project coordination. In this post I’m giving you insights on three levels you have to pass, before submitting your proposal in the EU portal. 

Level 1: Generating the idea for Horizon Europe

At the beginning, it is important to have a good idea. This is often easier said than done. Those who cannot cope with the concrete tender text are well advised to then look at the destination and other EU documents. Often, this will provide exactly the inspiration you need. It also helps to approach universities at an early stage – here you can find professional expertise and initial contacts in the business world. If you are building an international consortium, you can try your luck at EU matchmaking events (on the respective topics), and business clusters with the EU Gold Label are also a good place to start. All the contacts must eventually coin a document or graphic into an idea. Based on this, (several) working meetings are needed to define the concrete work programme for your next Horizon Europe project.


Level 2: Agreeing on the budget 

EU budgets are limited and the more partners participate in a project, the more difficult and time-consuming the coordination becomes. Help can be provided by a kind of scoring, in which the average value per partner is first calculated in euros. For services such as project coordination, taking over entire work packages or acting as task leader, there are then surcharges or deductions. Depending on the size of the project, two to four weeks are needed to draw up the budget. It is important to freeze all figures with a cut-off date so that the partners can then transfer them to the EU portal. Errors in the person-months or transposed figures have already caused some projects to collapse on the home stretch…

Budget per cost categorie
Cost categorieBudgetin %
(A) Personnel costs       6.251.635,38 € 63%
(B) Subcontracting Costs               10.000,00 € 0%
(C.1) Travel and subsistence            323.520,00 € 3%
(C.2) Equipement            237.068,00 € 2%
(C.3) Other goods, works und services            924.868,00 € 9%
(D) Other costs               88.500,00 € 1%
(E) Indirect costs       2.004.552,85 € 20%
Total       9.840.144,23 € 98%
That’s a budget!

Level 3: Finishing the Horizon Europe proposal 

Depending on the previous experience of the consortium, the paperwork then takes shape. It helps to prepare overviews for each partner that give precise information about which contributions are expected at which point in the application document. In the last Horizon Europe project, we worked our way through the document from the bottom up, i.e. first completing the work packages, then the impact section and finally the excellence chapter (with the methodology).  Last but not least, you should always think about the reviewers when writing and also give a lot of thought to explanatory graphics and layout in the proposal.

“Der Medienlotse” has experience in project coordination of national and international funding projects, both in the application phase and in the implementation phase.

Need help with your next innovation or project idea? Contact me! 

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