TREND 2000 Ltd
Have your H2020 proposal checked
Applying for European research grants is becoming more important for Academia and Industry alike as National funding becomes streamlined and integrated into Europe. The European Unions’ Horizon 2020 Programme (H2020) is a major source of funding for research but is a highly competitive environment requiring a considerable investment in resources to establish a high quality proposal with a good chance of success. In many cases applicants are spending in excess of €50,000 in terms of senior staff time and travel and subsistence costs to prepare the proposal. The grants being applied for often run into several millions of Euros shared among a number of participating organisations. Typical success levels for applicants are between 10 – 15%.
We offer a service to pre-evaluate your proposal in order to maximise your chances for a successful evaluation. We are well qualified to do this since we have over three decades of experience in coordinating European proposals and writing applications with success levels above 50%. In addition, since 1999 we have been regularly involved in the evaluation of proposals for the European Commission and monitoring ongoing EU projects. This brings a unique insight into what the evaluation process is about and the specifics of what evaluators are looking for.
For easy links to web information downloads and call documentation see our Submission Deadlines page.
How we check your H2020 proposal
Our service is designed to be as user friendly and effective as possible. We recognise that if you are preparing a H2020 proposal your time is limited and you are under stress.
To help increase your chances of a successful evaluation we check Part B of your proposal using an established process which focuses on the areas of the specific evaluation criteria for the call and make detailed comments on how to improve each section as necessary. Among other things, we look at consistency, clarity of concept, justification of innovation, level of detail provided, conformance with the call objectives, research methodology and objectiveness, appropriateness of partners, resource justification, management provisions, relevance of impact, dissemination and exploitation plans.
The only aspect of your proposal we do not evaluate is the accuracy of the scientific and technical detail. You are the experts in this and only you will know if you are at the leading edge of your specific field or not. However, we will let you know if it is unclear or inconsistent. Remember the Commission’s evaluators are unlikely to all be experts in your specific area so if you confuse us you may also confuse some of them!!
Note that we do not undertake full eligibility checking since this requires Part A of the proposal. – However, if we notice specific eligibility problems within Part B of your proposal we will notify you of this.
We find that very often that when proposals have failed the team responsible for writing them is unclear on the specific reasons since the Evaluation Feedback is too general and they are unsure whether there is any possibility to re-submit. We also check previously submitted but failed proposals and give further insight into the reasons the proposal failed and make recommendations on whether there are possibilities for resubmitting the whole proposal or certain aspects of it.
In this case you should also include the Evaluation Summary Report you received from the Commission together with your Part B proposal.
What We Deliver
To use our services please contact us and we will prepare a brief contract to agree the specific assignment. Following this you should send us your proposal draft by email. We will then check and evaluate your proposal and you will receive back via email:
- Your document with comments using the document review in Word or ‘sticky note’ comments in pdf files. (Note: Please ensure your files are in .doc(x) or .pdf and are open for editing.)
- A Word file with a summary of the key points to address relating to each of the main evaluation criterion.
We will endeavour to return these documents within 72 hours but operate a strict queuing system so the sooner you send them to us the sooner we will return your review.
Remember that if you send the proposal too late you will have no time to implement any changes we recommend before the submission deadline.
TIP – Use our Submission Deadlines page to see the final submission deadline for your proposal. We suggest you allow 5 working days as a minimum to ensure this service will be of use to you. If you find you have less time please contact us and we may be able to accelerate the service depending upon the length of the queue of proposals in our system.
Declaration – We treat all proposals in the strictest of confidence and our terms and conditions contain a specific confidentiality clause. If you wish to establish a Non-Disclosure Agreement we are happy to provide this at the time of engagement.
The first thing to remember about the evaluation process is that it is undertaken by experts selected on the basis of their scientific, technical and commercial expertise. As the EU has expanded so has the number of countries that participate in the evaluations. The Commission officers in charge of running the evaluations need to employ a balance of nationalities, gender and experience to comply with requirements of fairness and transparency which are at the core of the evaluation process. However, the evaluation is fundamentally performed by ‘humans’ and as such the state of mind and experience of the evaluator are core variables of the process.
Two other aspects to consider are that; the evaluator is not able to infer anything that is not presented clearly in your proposal and; your proposal is in direct competition with other proposals and as such needs to be a more convincing sales document than a scientific paper. Remember that you need to convince EACH evaluator in every section of your proposal in order to have a positive evaluation.
The evaluation process is generally handled in three phases:
The first is undertaken remotely, ie at the evaluator’s office or home, there is full access to the internet through which information provided can be validated. Your proposal will be assigned to between 3 and 5 evaluators who will independently read your proposal. Each evaluator prepares a detailed IER (Individual Evaluation Report) which is submitted electronically onto an EC server platform.
After a week or two the evaluators are assembled in Brussels where the marks and comments are compiled by the Commission staff. For each proposal a rapporteur (chairman of the evaluators) is assigned to provide a Consensus Report (CR) that merges and summarises the evaluators marks and opinions that were written during the individual readings. Any proposals which have differences of opinion (which is quite normal and frequent) may require a consensus meeting. It is the job of the evaluators to agree an overall consensus of opinion and the Commission officer will ensure the evaluation criteria are correctly and consistently applied. Once a consensus is reached the rapporteur prepares the CR.
Panel Review is the third stage of the evaluation where evaluators determine the ranking of each proposal based on the marks achieved and, in the case of proposals with the same mark, other specific criteria are applied to arrive at the final order. These lists essentially fall into four main categories:
- Proposals that have failed one or more evaluation criterion
- Proposals that have passed all evaluation criteria but are too low in the ranking list to be funded
- Proposals that have passed all evaluation criteria and are at the borderline mark for funding
- Proposals that have passed all evaluation criteria and are above the funding level
The evaluation is concluded with a panel report and Commission officers then prepare an Evaluation Summary Report (ESR) which is issued to the coordinator of the submitted proposals.
H2020 Proposals are fundamentally evaluated based on three criteria:
- Excellence – Scientific and Technological Quality and the relevance to the call topic
- Impact – Related to the call requirements and EU competitiveness
- Implementation – Appropriate work plans, partners and management process
Many are rejected for very similar reasons and a few of the most common ones are as follows:
- Proposal is hard to read, inconsistent and boring
- Unclear and over complex language
- Insufficient detail provided to understand the key aspects
- Lack of coherence between the sections
- S&T Quality
- Poorly defined objectives that are not entirely consistent with the scope of the call text
- Unclear and inconsistent state of the art
- Lack of clear innovative aspects
- Fundamental concept is unrealistic
- Method and approach are poorly described or missing key aspects
- Insufficient quantified details about potential impact
- Lack of realistic analysis of the actual markets suitable for the project results
- Lack of evidence to support stated claims
- Lack of clear exploitation plans
- Poor strategy for exploitation
- Illogical work plan
- Missing key work packages
- Insufficient description of partner roles
- Poorly quantified deliverables and milestones
- Wrong partners to undertake the work – missing skills or overlapping roles
- Poorly defined and justified resources
- Insufficiently clear management structures
- Lack of sufficiently detailed risk analysis
Clearly there are many other problems we encounter with proposals on a regular basis that the proposal-checker service can help to sort out prior to submission.