Horizon 2020 and the Key to Successful Applications: New Challenges in the Upcoming Period
"Maximising Impact" through Integrated Project Management
The European Commission established an independent High Level Expert Group to draw up a vision and strategic recommendations to maximise the impact of Horizon 2020 and future EU research and innovation programmes. Eurice fully seconds the main recommendations and overall message that the impact of Horizon 2020 - on programme level - is based on the successful integration of research ("Labs"), innovation ("Fabs") and meaningful applications ("Apps").
The full report "LAB – FAB – APP — Investing in the European future we want" can be accessed here.
Notwithstanding the fact that a programme as complex and multidimensional as Horizon 2020 needs a clear vision and strategy at the top programme level, we are convinced that big things always start small-scale. The recommendations from the policy report will have to be translated into best practice approaches for an impact-focused management of individual Horizon 2020 projects.
From the proposal to the final project meeting (and hopefully beyond), the striving for maximum impact is the driving force for turning excellent research results into real benefits for society and economy.
At the proposal stage, evaluators are requested to assess the quality and efficiency of measures to maximise the impact of expected research outcomes. At this stage, it is crucial to showcase the right competences and proper activities to deliver outstanding research results on the one hand and demonstrate the project impact to relevant stakeholders on the other. Any research and innovation project proposal has to address a number of so-called "horizontal activities" expected to maximise the impact of research results: The management of intellectual property, communication management, exploitation and dissemination activities as well as quality management and smooth grant management procedures. These activities are mandatory and subject to evaluation procedures, mostly to the same extent as the quality of the underlying idea and the research excellence of consortium partners.
In view of the upcoming calls for proposal within the H2020 Working Programmes for the period 2018-2020, even more emphasis will be put on proposal parts describing the quality of measures to maximise the impact of expected project results. Those measures need to be credible and strategically planned - ad-hoc efforts won't do the trick. Our experience has shown that scientists and entrepreneurs are facing major difficulties when it comes to these requirements.
There is no doubt that the impact section of Horizon 2020 should be written by the lead users of the expected research outputs. However, when it comes to the description of a sound project and innovation management approach in terms of work packages, tasks, milestones and deliverables, professional support might be crucial to get your project funded. Hence, based on our experiences from managing over 100 EU-funded collaborative research projects, Eurice has developed an "Integrated Project Management" approach with a strong focus on the efficient communication and exploitation of project results.
Our references from project partners or recent proposal evaluations speak for themselves: References
Being fully aware of the tougher requirements concerning measures to maximise impact in Horizon 2020 proposals submitted under calls in 2018-2020, we have shared our concepts, activities and tools with EC officers and proposal evaluators - and we have been strongly encouraged to follow this integrated approach.