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Swiss and UK project partners? What to expect when preparing your Horizon Europe proposal

9th August 2022 at 3:36 pm

Blog series 3/3: Third country partners

As long as they have the operational and financial capacity to carry out the tasks that they propose, any type of organisation can apply for funding from Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, which officially started more than one year ago. Regardless of the type of organisation, be it an academic institution, company or some other entity, different rules apply depending on its legal domicile. For the time being, Switzerland and the UK are both still considered an “Other Third Country” by Horizon Europe, which implies that most Horizon Europe calls are open to participants from these two countries, but they typically will not receive direct EU funding.

Having already been involved in 11 Horizon Europe proposals/projects as an Associated Partner, we at accelopment have first-hand experience with the Swiss situation because of our domicile, and thanks to several collaborators from the UK, we have experience with UK practices as well. We would like to share the current rules and best practices for the most common Horizon Europe funding instruments.

Including Swiss and UK partners in your Horizon Proposal?

The simple answer is yes—provided that the expertise of the organisation(s) from Switzerland and/or the UK is required to achieve your project objectives. In general, UK institutions are treated like any EU partner in the proposal, whereas Swiss legal entities figure as Associated Partners at this early stage. However, the devil is in the details. There are various precautions and actions to be taken during the proposal preparation, from the addition of a Swiss partner to the EU portal (the so-called Part A) to the justification of their participation. The following are some tips on how to deal with these details in your (research and) innovation action (RIA/IA) and Doctoral Network (DN) proposals.

Proposal elementSwiss organisations*UK organisations
Part A (online forms)  
Main contact (PI)It can be added to the coordinating institutionProject Partner / Beneficiary
DepartmentTo be includedTo be included
ResearchersTo be addedTo be added
RoleTo be includedTo be included
Relevant publications, projects and infrastructureTo be includedTo be included
BudgetTo be included in “financial contributions” onlyTo be itemised and included in the “total eligible costs”; the “requested EU contribution” is based on the funding rate for the specific call
Ethics and securitySections on non-EU countries and EU classified information need to be completedSections on non-EU countries and EU classified information need to be completed
Part B  
Section 3.1 – Work Packages, Deliverables and Milestones (RIA/IA)Swiss entities can lead work packages and be appointed for deliverables and milestonesUK entities can lead work packages and be appointed for deliverables and milestones
Section 3.1 – Work Packages, Deliverables and Milestones (DN)Swiss entities recruiting doctoral candidates are added as APs who cannot lead WP and therefore cannot be the lead for deliverablesFor now, recruiting UK entities are beneficiaries in the proposal submission
Section 3.1 – Risks (DNs)Risk mitigation measures whether UK partner(s) lose their beneficiary status and are not eligible for EU funding
Section 3.1 – ResourcesReferences to financial contributions from the Swiss government (State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, SERI)
Section 3.2 – consortium compositionJustification for its participation in consortium descriptionJustification for its participation in consortium description
Section 3.2 –
Funding of non-associated third countries (DNs)
References to financial contribution from the Swiss government (SERI)References to financial contribution from the UK government (UK Research & Innovation, UKRI) in case the UK entity loses its Beneficiary status
Section 6 (Part B2) –
Participant profiles (DNs)
Participant profiles to be included as usualParticipant profiles to be included as usual
*Legal entities from Switzerland are not allowed to coordinate Horizon projects according to current rules.

Special rules apply to MSCA DNs, wherein Swiss institutions can also recruit doctoral candidates while being an Associated Partner; all other Associated Partners are not entitled to host PhD students. In both cases (RIAs/IAs and DNs), organisations registered in Switzerland receive their funding from SERI according to the EC funding rules. The Swiss budget does not count towards the EU grant and is additional. More information on how this works during both grant preparation and project implementation will soon be provided in our blog series.

To make things even more complicated, the status of the UK partners currently changes from a quasi-EU to a third country organisation once the proposal has been selected for funding and invited to grant preparation. This will be the case as long as the EU and the UK have not signed a bilateral agreement. The latter was expected to be concluded before the start of Horizon Europe in 2021; however, it is still pending as of August 2022.

Interested in getting accelopment involved as a Swiss or German project partner?

Our multi-disciplinary team has a wealth of knowledge in EU-funded projects. We have long-standing experience from RIAs, IAs and ITNs funded under FP7 and Horizon 2020 and about a dozen newly-funded Horizon Europe projects including ROADVIEW, BREAKthrough, SYNSENSO and CORENET. Typically, our first role is to support during Proposal Writing and to execute the Grant Preparations with the EC. During the project implementation, we then work as an Associated Partner in the consortium, assisting in Project Management tasks, coordinating the communication and dissemination activities and contributing to the training of doctoral candidates with our transferable skills training programme.

RIA/IA experts

Marco Cavallaro

Marco Cavallaro
Research & Innovation Project Manager

Andreia Cruz
Research & Innovation Project Manager

ITN/DN experts

Jacqueline Strehler

Jacqueline Strehler
Research & Innovation Project Manager

Blog series 3/3: Third country partners