It is often the case when preparing a Horizon 2020 project proposal that the last weeks before submission deadline are intense for the coordinator and the involved project partners. The full application requires completing the administrative requirements in the Participant Portal, writing the Excellence, Impact and Implementation part for the proposal, preparing the Project Abstract, discussing the budget within the consortium, completing partners’ description, collecting Letters of Support from stakeholders, and so on..
Little time is left to critically look at the entire proposal, and more importantly, to make sure it is ready for all elements of the Horizon 2020 project evaluation procedure and the evaluation criteria. The competition in Horizon 2020 is very strong with only the highest scored proposals well above the threshold having a chance to receive funding!
It is highly recommended to have the full project proposal rigorously checked. Ideally this should be done 2 to 3 weeks before submission deadline to allow sufficient time for final implementation of the received comments and suggestions for improvements.
This project reviewing is best done by an independent expert who has knowledge of the topic concerning the project proposal and is familiar with the Horizon 2020 evaluation procedure and criteria.
What to expect from a pre-submission evaluation?
Projects in Horizon 2020 are evaluated as submitted on their content and not on its potential. Therefore, it is important to write clearly, explain directly without ambiguities, use easy to understand language and be up to the point.
An experienced independent reviewer casting a fresh-eye on a project proposal prior submission can give useful feedback on many aspects of the proposal, for example:
- Is the Project Abstract clearly written, concise and easy to understand by a generalist?
- Does the proposal successfully ‘captures’ the reader’s attention by emphasising important parts in the text, use of diagrams, images, etc.?
- What are the weak points of the proposal when set against the Horizon 2020 evaluation criteria for: Excellence, Impact and Quality and Efficiency of the Implementation, and more importantly, how can they be improved? Example questions to examine are:
- Is it clear what the project is about? Are the objectives in line with your call topic?
- Does the proposed project provides a response to the specific challenge for its call topic?
- Does the overall methodology for the project make sense?
- Is the state of the art convincingly described and how the proposed project builds on it?
- Is the expected impact explained clearly and justification for it provided?
- Are the used baselines, benchmarks and assumptions convincing?
- Are the potential barriers/framework conditions to achieve the expected impact appropriately addressed?
- What is the quality of the proposed measures to exploit and disseminate the project results?
- Is it clear how the management of the Intellectual Property Rights and the research data will be done?
- What about your Work Plan, is it clear, logical, has feedback loops and interrelation among the Work Packages?
- Is the overall budget well allocated, justified and offers good value for money?
- How is the quality of the proposed project management structure, decision making procedures? Are the potential risks correctly identified and convincing mitigation measures provided?
- What is the quality and complementarity of the consortium partners? Are the roles and responsibilities adequately allocated and in balance to their budget?
- Is the interest in the project from relevant stakeholders demonstrated (i.e. through Letters of Support)?
- Are the cross-cutting issues in the scope of the call topic sufficiently addressed?