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Key principles of a successful Horizon Europe application
17. February 2022 News

Key principles of a successful Horizon Europe application

Horizon Europe is the EU´s next ambitious research & innovation funding programme with a record budget of EUR 95.5 billion.

It aims to tackle climate change, to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and to boost EU’s competitiveness. In the 2021-2027 period, Horizon Europe is structured in 3 pillars, all providing innovation funding across all sectors of the economy. Here, the EU funding opportunities are quite extensive but certain funding rules apply to all Horizon Europe proposals equally. In this article we take a closer look at those key EU funding principles to kick start your innovation funding journey.

  1. The EU´s strategic objectives and action plans

The content of your project proposal must be within the scope of EU`s strategic objectives and action plans - whatever your development process entails, it needs to correspond to the action plans and strategic objectives of  EU´s policies. GREEN, DIGITAL and RESILIENT are the buzz words of this Horizon Europe financial perspective. Your project needs to show coherence with the EU funding initiatives such as the EU Green Deal, the Digital Europe Programme, and European Health Union . They constitute the framework of the current EU funding landscape and you are expected to address them properly.

  1. Proposal templates in Horizon Europe

The Commission is investing a great amount of resources into proper applicant support, also in form of extensive guidelines on how to address certain objectives in the application templates. Keep in mind that proposal templates within the Horizon Europe programme constitute the base for evaluators’ assessments. Follow given template structures, they are there to help you to address all topics relevant and to acquire EU funding for your innovation.

  1. Contribution to the impacts described in Work programmes

You should show how your project contributes to the expected impact described in the Work Programmes of the Horizon Europe programme. In order to elaborate the impact, you need to engage in storytelling. Do not explicitly focus on your technological concepts solely, you should work out the issues of broader societal, economic, environmental and climate impacts that your solution may have. This broader story telling can help convince the evaluators of the Horizon Europe programme of your project´s quality and help you retain EU funding for it.   

  1. Disruptiveness of the idea for EU funding

Next point is the breakthrough character of your innovation which is as equally important as the presentation of your impacts in the EU funding landscape. Namely, knowing your target market and its trends, knowing what your customer wants, are of key importance here. You are expected to demonstrate that your proposed solution goes far beyond the current usual practices and that your solution has the potential to change the way customer needs are addressed on the societal and economic level both.  

  1. Maximizing the impact in Horizon Europe projects

Horizon Europe is about impact, about making a difference with your innovation. There are 3 terms within “measures to maximize impact” that you should pay attention to, namely the concepts of dissemination, communication and exploitation. All 3 have to be addressed in every proposal, if it is to acquire funding from the Horizon Europe programme. While communication is about promoting the project and its results to multiple audience such as citizens, dissemination is about disclosing your results to specific audiences such as the research community and facilitating the scientific reuse of the results. Both, communication and dissemination strongly influence the overall impact of the project. Coordinated, ambitious communication and dissemination efforts increase the project´s impact, as they lead to a broader use of results by the project´s stakeholders. The third important subject are exploitation plans where you need to demonstrate that the knowledge created in the project will be used beyond the project lifetime. For example, exploitation can also be about using your newly acquired knowledge in future R&D endeavors.

  1. Team and partners in Horizon Europe projects

Another aspect are partnerships, as strategic partners are of crucial importance. Choose the appropriate partner wisely - someone who will bring expertise to the project implementation that you are lacking, someone you can trust. In case of multi-beneficiary schemes this refers to project partners and in mono-beneficiary schemes you can apply these recommendations to choosing the subcontractors. For a proposal to be successful, it is crucial to present the project team. Make sure, that you present the interdisciplinarity of the team members (not only technological background but also marketing, financial, etc.) and their know how. It is important to convince the evaluators that you have a great team, with sufficient and relevant knowledge, experience and expertise to successfully implement the proposed project.

  1. Language

Keep in mind that regardless of the topic, it is always important that the language is clear, simple and straightforward. You need to omit abbreviations, complex technical language or other ambiguous formulations. Make sure to come across convincingly and understandable to the evaluators.


These fundamental guidelines constitute a basis for every proposal within the Horizon Europe programme. However, applicants are advised to carefully read specific Work programmes and application guides that apply to their proposal. Make sure to reach out to us in case of questions, we are happy to help!

Written by:
Marjeta Maurer, EU project expert



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