Support for Research and Development
Neil offers extensive experience of the way national
and European research funding works, having contributed
to the development of new funding programmes and the evaluation
and review of proposals for funding.
Link: Proposal writing
Link: Outline of Horizon 2020 (H2020 or FP8)
Link: The funding process
Link: How EC funding works
Services offered to bidding consortia include proposal pre-evaluation and facilitation of consortium-building workshops as well as post-mortems of failed bids. Neil can also play a more central role in development of a proposal, which often begins many months before the submission.
The selection process for funding proposals is highly competitive and Neil is well placed to help you improve your chances of success:
- Only develop proposals that have a strong "fit" with the funding programme
- understand what the EC is looking for
- Build a strong consortium and develop a strong workplan
- with no evident weaknesses and clear roles for each partner
- Communicate your ideas clearly
- for a non-native reader of English
- Structure your proposal around key messages
- WHAT you intend to do to move the state of the art forward
- HOW you bring the right team together to deliver those results, and
- WHY the results justify the funding you are asking for
Link: More information about services for proposal-writers and EC-related training courses.
Outline of Horizon 2020 (H2020)
Horizon 2020 is the 'brand' used by the European Commission for funding research and innovation in pursuit of European policies for competitiveness.
Link: Lexicon of Horizon2020 terminology
H2020 consists of three main parts or 'Pillars':
- Support for excellent science, including funding of frontier research and development of future and emerging technologies, development of research skills and careers and development of research infrastructures
- Support for leadership in enabling and industrial technologies (LEIT), including access to risk-funding and support for SMEs as well as activities that support the innovation lifecycle of research, technological development and demonstration in areas like:
- Information and communication technologies;
- advanced materials;
- advanced manufacturing and processing;
- Support for research addressing challenges that threaten European and global societies:
- Health, demographic change and wellbeing
- Food security, sustainable agriculture and the bio-based economy
- Secure, clean and efficient energy
- Smart, green and integrated transport
- Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials
- Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies
- Secure societies
External link: Horizon 2020 overview (decision document)
This new 'political' view of the need for EC intervention in research and innovation embraces some familiar concepts and some new ones. You will find some of the 'old' (FP7) initiatives like Marie Curie and INFRA (both now part of the Science pillar). The outine above shows how research is now being treated as a 'horizontal' activity underpinning all three pillars rather than a discrete part of the programme in the way that FP7 had its 'Cooperation' and 'Capacities' sub-programmes.
Horizon 2020 is divided into topic-based work programmes within the three pillars (for example ICT or Transport in under the Leadership pillar) and offers different funding models reimbursing up to 125% of direct costs depending on the purpose of the project and the extent to which it addresses research rather than 'near-market' issues.
The funding process
There are 8 steps to be followed:
- The legal decisions authorising the European Commission to distribute the H2020 budget require approval by the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the Member States
- The scope of those decisions is defined in published Work Programmes which get periodically uppdated
- The timing of the opportunities is defined by specific Calls for Proposals addressing one or more areas identified in a Work Programme
- You cannot rely on any information that is available before the Call opens and proposals have to be submitted before the Call closes about three months later
- The call documentation defines the prescribed structure of the bid you submit and the evaluation process that it undergoes
- It also defines any requirement for a multi-partner consortium
- This is a competitive process and not all applicants are successful
- The process of consortium-forming, bid preparation and submission, evaluation, contract negotiation and project initiation can take up to a year
How EC funding works
There are several principles that restrict the amount that you can claim as reimbursement for executing a project:
- The direct costs to be recovered must be actual (appear in your accounts), necessary (incurred in the execution of the project) and reasonable (in line with sector norms)
- In addition, it is recognised that the participants will incur indirect costs, which cannot accurately be stated, such as admin support or accomodation. An allowance of up to 25% of direct costs can be added to cover these indirect costs.
- Some grant agreements will impose constraints (such as a limit on the indirect cost or the use of averages for staff costs)
- If the participant is going to benefit from the results then it is reasonable that they share the cost
- No participant is allowed to profit financially from the project:
- income from events or other activities that exceed the project's own contribution of costs results in reduction of grant
- grant cannot be used to pay taxes etc,
- labour costs are based on salaries in the proportion of the time spent working on the project
- 'opportunity costs' are based on revenue not cost and are therefore ineligble
National research funding
Universities receive much of their funding through Research Councils. What is less well-known is that there are schemes for private sector researchers as well - mostly though the Technology Strategy Board.
External link: Open the TSB Competitions page in a new window