This article presents importance of proposal preparation and some useful tips for addressing the Horizon 2020 Calls effectively. Written by Ahmad Bilal International Project Manager at LEITAT.


The project preparation task in competitive European Funding Programmes is quite challenging as it requires initially a significant amount of preparatory work. This includes collecting and processing the required information for building up the proposal (particularly important when the commercial aspect/impact of the research is to be ascertained beforehand as currently required in HORIZON 2020).In ¨Research and Innovation Actions¨ the aspect of innovative idea of research with impact becomes significantly important that requires sound concepts development, credibility of approach adopted, detailed risks analysis, patent analysis, innovation potential of outcomes and a clear progress beyond the state of the art in that particular technology and for that particular sector application.


In ¨Innovation action¨ and more industrial applied research projects; market research, technology evaluation, competitive analysis, feasibility and sustainability analysis, and IP due diligence is needed to be done during proposal phase. Beside that lot of effort is being spent in partners’ recruitment, communication and project end user negotiation and agreements. To emphasize the fact how top ranked organizations take proposal preparation task seriously. A good example from the Fraunhofer research portfolio is the PharmaPlanta project in FP6 on plant-derived pharmaceutical proteins. Fraunhofer invested over one million euros in state-of-the-art greenhouses to breed the genetically modified plants but this investment was required up-front, external to project funding from the EU, in order for the proposal to be held viable. Although, this was a high-risk strategy that could have left Fraunhofer with a ‘white elephant’ but ultimately they acquired the project.


Enough said to emphasize the fact that Horizon 2020 Proposal Preparation is a serious job for organizations that really want to seek funding for realizing their innovative projects and number of other benefits hereby below are some useful tips to consider. The points delineated below are applicable in most of the cases; however, they may vary according to the topic and theme of the call.


  •  Millions are decided on a piece of document: All decisions and evaluation of funding million Euros for projects are done on the basis of a piece of document. The size can vary from 10-70 pages, so considering attention to minor details in all aspect of the project proposal becomes evidently quite important. That piece of document becomes a project and reality once funded. (No change or negotiations)
  • Proposals are evaluated as they are written: There are no assumptions or hypothesis considered no matter you submit a proposal about breakthrough design of next generation aircraft as leading aircraft company of the world, nothing will be assumed and considered that one is capable of doing that anyway. You have to demonstrate and write everything required by call and proposal to be successful.
  • Ideas with Impact: There is no room for unrealistic ideas. Only ideas that are innovative, relevant and bound to have a positive impact on a particular industry and society are considered in the competition.
  • Proposals have to encompass the entire value chain: Beginning from the technology creator up to the end user, sometimes proposals need to incorporate and illustrate the participation and effect on the entire value chain. Even the policy making organizations and the companies benefiting from the project’s development need to be mentioned in certain cases, as per the project requires. In short, you need to think over the minutest detail of your project and only then begin to write down the proposal.
  • Competitive and feasible project: Proposals needed to be competitive in that particular technological area where projects are being developed and also feasible, complete risk analysis and measures to tackle them is needed to be done in project.
  • Multinational Teams and Multidisciplinary Approach: One needs to consider multinational teams and adopt a multidisciplinary approach to address Horizon 2020 calls effectively.
  • Competition consideration: On average, the success rate in Horizon 2020 is 14% and in some calls as low as 4%. Understanding the competition and deploying your resources in an area where you hold a strategic competitive advantage is an important aspect to consider.


The most important of all;

  • Value Creation: Project should create different kinds of value(for markets, society, sectors etc) and knowledge for Europe and as a whole for Europeans (global in some cases where competitiveness is concerned).If you fail to create value and to capture benefits derived from that value in your project, you fail to complete project value chain required in Horizon 2020. Your focus should be creating value and exploiting benefits of that value in your project and not only to design project for the sake of funding. If you focus on creating Value, funding will follow. (best of luck with that)


If you are a newcomer based in Europe, as an eligible participant, you can be the one obtaining grants from 80 billion Euros funding scheme. All policy documents, background, EU priorities and challenges, technology roadmaps, call information, proposal templates and instructions are all available at European Commission´s website and portals, all you need is to read them carefully understand the importance of different criterias, process information intelligently and you can be successful in securing Funds for your value and impact oriented innovative research projects.


If you are still not confident try working with experienced partners and organizations like LEITAT; an applied research organization where we have been successful in all sort of funding programmes and developing value oriented highly innovative research projects complimenting our research and technological competencies as a valuable research partner for European and International Collaborative Projects.