With more than 25 years of experience in proposal writing for European funding programmes, we would like to share a few tips what we think are helpful to keep in mind while writing a project proposal.
#1 Get familiar with the Horizon
Reading up on the newest of Horizon 2020 is important. Paying close attention to what it is that the European Commission wants to get out of the research projects it funds is essential to understand how to best position a project. The EU’s policy goals of economic growth, job creation, impact and progression will need to be woven within the science and explicitly stated and argued for wherever possible.
#2 Start with the impact
We recommend to screen proposal calls on the basis of the impact section. This ensures that time is not spent on preparing for calls that are unfit. Revisiting the impact section once in a while, also helps to keep the overall objectives of the project in fresh memory.
#3 Refer back to the proposal call
A successful proposal should clearly state how the project is matching the proposal call in question. Our top tip is to keep referring back to the original call and quote keywords mentioned in it. This will also helps the evaluators.
#4 Put excellence above all
Scientific excellence should be the starting and ending point of your proposal. We recommend to focus on, and highlight it, whenever you can.
#5 Create a complementarity consortium
Any successful proposal is not only excellent. It is also characterized by an interdisciplinary consortium with good relationships throughout Europe. Our experience is that having the right people on board makes the hole difference. Last and far more tricky is making sure that all members of the consortium are actually adding value to the project.
#6 Use references
We like to refer back to original research, use quote and cross-reference. Also the use of footnotes for literature references are helpful but we do suggest that you try not to hide important scientific arguments in a footnote.
The EU has 24 official languages. That means that most evaluators do not have English as their first language. For native speakers, that means making sure that the words used and lines of argument can be followed by most.
Last but not least: In our experience, you can never start too early preparing for a submission.
You are welcome to share our tips and we also encourage you to share your own in the comment section below.