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  • How can I write a competitive proposal?
  • What university internal procedures do I need to follow to submit an EU funding proposal?
  • What is the basic information about the university often required for applications (e.g. the PIC code 999848938).


How do I write a competitive Horizon 2020 funding proposal?

To write or not?

Please give this question enough consideration before starting to work on a proposal. The competition for EU funding is intense. Average success rate is 20% - in ERC lower. This means that a great deal of time and energy is needed to write a successful grant - how much depends upon the proposal type, and the preparation you have already done. Please discuss this decision with colleagues and/or the EU-Referentin. Sometimes it is wiser to wait a year. This is particularly the case vis-à-vis ERC grants; see Bottom Up Funding: ERC page.

"Secret tips"

There are a few points to keep in mind - most not written anywhere - no matter what programme you are writing your proposal for:

  • The main aim of H2020 is to address the political strategies set out in the EU2020 and Innovation Union documents.  If you are not already familiar with these, you should at minimum skim through them and identify one policy area – and ideally one specific policy – that your project addresses. It is essential that you can convince the evaluators that your project best addresses a policy-related information need that they have. Much of the time the related policy information is already provided as background in documents along with the "top down" Societal Challenges calls.
  • Innovation: at least the potential for your ideas to eventually move "from the lab to the market”  
  • Interdisciplinarity: topics, especially the societal challenges, are expected to be addressed in an interdisciplinary fashion
  • Broad range of actors: research that incorporates a broad range of actors are more likely to be funded.
  • European value added should be emphasized as much as scientific excellence
  • Where appropriate, standardization should be aspired to and emphasized
  • All key terms from the call must be taken up and used in the proposal, so evaluators can clearly see the links between the two and the suitability of the project to meet the call aims.
  • Because H2020 topics are more open, the “fit” with the topic has less importance in evaluation than impact.  The proposal format should follow the impact criteria.
  • The chances of obtaining funding would be enhanced via lobby work, be it with relevant EU personnel and/or national actors. The EU-Referentin can support in this process.


Expert “outside reader” support

A proposal is like wine; it needs to ripen. It is important to allow your ideas sufficient time to “perculate”, and for others to provide comments on it. It should be written well enough that an intelligent non-specialist can follow it.

  • The draft can be shown to trusted colleagues.
  • The EU Referentin can provide an expert “outsider” perspective on your draft proposal. I have significant proposal writing experience from my previous academic as well as previous and current EU-Referentin work.
  • Draft proposals can also be submitted to KOWI or the EU national contact Offices; the EU-Referntin can help you get in touch with them.

Appointments should be made with the EU-Referentin and/or others weeks in advance, so time can be set aside for their comments and for you to incorporate them and polish the draft.

Proposal forms: Useful information

Proposals have an administrative section (A), and a “scientific” one (B). Guidelines for filling these out are included with the application documents.

A Forms - Information often requested from  coordinator:

  • PIC code / number: 999848938
  • Legal representatives' contact Information (those able to sign legal documents on the university's behalf)
    • Prof. Katharine Krause, President
    • Praesidentin@uni-marburg.de
    • Biegenstr. 10, 35032 Marburg
    • Tel. 49 (0)6421 28 26000
    • Fax  49 (0)6421 28910
  • Financial signatory: Fill in the contact information for the person in the finance administration assigned to administer your projects. If you do not know who this is, ask Frau Keller if you are in FB20, otherwise Frau Schild.
  • Administrative contact persons: This is the person in your department responsible for the day to day support to ongoing projects. In the case of ERC grants, however, it is the EU-Referent/in.
  • Institutional letter of support:  Some applications require a letter of support from the university administration before they can be submitted. If yours does, please make your request to the EU Referent/in at least a week in advance, specifying form required (mentioned in the application). A (draft) proposal, including budget, must be submitted with request, before the letter can be brought to the President to be signed.

Zuletzt aktualisiert: 11.09.2014 · woestmal

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