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Expert Guide to Writing the Excellence Part of a Horizon Europe Proposal

Are you ready to take your research to the next level? Learn how to showcase excellence in your Horizon Europe proposal and increase your chances of getting funded.

Excellence is a key criterion in Horizon Europe grant proposals. It refers to the quality and originality of the proposed work, as well as the potential scientific and technical outcomes and impacts of the project. Proposals should demonstrate a high level of scientific and/or technological excellence and should be innovative and ambitious in their approach.

When writing your Excellence section, you should focus on multiple points such as the state of the art, the methodology, etc. In the following post we will concentrate on:

  • The meaning of “Excellence” in the context of Horizon Europe proposals, and why it is important.

  • Providing examples of how you should demonstrate excellence in your proposals, using the state-of-the-art, a well-designed methodology, and potentially a strong track record of relevant publications, patents, and previous projects.

  • The alignment of the proposed project with the Horizon Europe topic objectives and expected outcomes.

  • Providing you with tips and best practices to improve the chances of your proposal being considered excellent.

  • Examples of successful Horizon Europe proposals and highlights of what made them stand out.

Excellence_ horizon eurpe

Excellence in Horizon Europe proposals

In the context of Horizon Europe, "excellence" refers to the quality and originality of the proposed research, as well as the potential scientific/technological impact of the project. It is one of the main criteria that evaluators use to assess the proposal, and it is considered as a key aspect for a project to be funded.

Indeed, excellence section demonstrates that the proposed work is of a high standard and has the potential to make significant contributions to the field of the topic, the destination, and the European knowledge and excellency.

When evaluating proposals, evaluators will look at:

  • The quality and originality of the proposed research,

  • The potential scientific and technological impact of the proposed project,

  • The partners' expertise and experience, and the interdisciplinary consideration,

  • And the feasibility of the proposed activities.

Proposals that demonstrate high standards in these areas are excellent and have a higher chance of being funded.

How to demonstrate excellence in Horizon Europe proposals

The consortium can demonstrate the Excellence of the proposal and the expected activities through the state-of-the-art, and a well-designed methodology.

Excellence in horizon europe

  • Objectives: You should start by describing the goals of the research and innovation work performed within the project. Your project’s results will originate from this. The project’s objectives may be highly diverse and can tackle scientific and/or technological results of a specific research, the feasibility of an innovation, sharing knowledge among target groups and stakeholders, etc.

  • The project’s outcomes and their relation to the work program: Show how your project aligns with the Horizon Europe and the topic objectives and expected outcome. For this, you need to deeply analyze your topic and identify the expected outcomes and impact. For example, the proposal could explain how it will contribute to the development of new technologies, or how it will promote collaboration with other related projects under the same destination of the topic in question.

  • Key Performance Indicators: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are specific, measurable, and quantifiable targets that are used to evaluate the performance of a project or program. In the excellence part of a Horizon Europe proposal, KPIs can be used to demonstrate that the proposed research is of a high standard and has the potential to make significant contributions to the field. For example, a proposal focused on developing a new renewable energy source could explain how it will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and by how much (percentage, CO2 equivalent, etc.) and how it is going to mitigate climate change. The KPIs should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) and should be used to evaluate the performance of the project during its execution, not only for the proposal evaluation.

  • State-of-the-art: You can demonstrate the use of cutting-edge techniques or technologies in their research. The consortium should focus on and determine how to go beyond the state-of-the-art. For example, if a proposal is focused on developing new materials, you could describe how you plan to use advanced synthesis methods to create novel materials with unique properties.

  • Well-designed methodology: You can demonstrate the excellence of your research plan by describing a clear and detailed methodology, including specific objectives, a robust approach to data analysis, a clear definition of the scientific challenges, and the concepts and innovations to be implemented to overcome these challenges and reach the objectives of the project.

  • Strong track record of relevant publications, patents, and/or projects: Proposers can demonstrate their expertise and experience in the field by highlighting their relevant publications, patents, and previous or ongoing projects in the domain.

  • Deep investigation of the following aspects in the excellence part of your proposal (these aspects have been or will be considered each one apart and in detail in other posts by NETO Innovation).

o Open science.

o Gender dimension in research and innovation content.

o Social sciences and humanities (SSH).

o Do no significant harm principle (DNSH).

o Artificial Intelligence robustness and ethics.

It is, thus, important to show how the project is innovative and ambitious, and how it can potentially have a high impact on the scientific field, the technical domain, the society, and the economy.

Tips and best practices to improve Excellence section in Horizon Europe grants

In the following, you can find some suggestions to enhance the chances of your proposal to be considered as excellent.

  • Understand the Horizon Europe objectives and the specific funding topics: it is important to understand the overall goals of Horizon Europe, as well as the specific outcomes and impacts expected under the selected topic and its destinations and their criteria. Indeed, you need to align your proposal with the program's priorities.

  • Show that your proposal is innovative and ambitious: your proposal should demonstrate a high level of scientific and/or technological excellence and should be innovative and ambitious in its approach.

  • Develop a well-designed research plan: your proposal should include a clear and detailed methodology and work plan, and a robust approach to data analysis, and a clear methodology to face challenges via innovative concepts.

  • Build a strong consortium: your proposal should include a multidisciplinary team with the necessary expertise and experience to carry out the proposed research and should show how the proposed collaboration will enhance the impact of the project.

Examples of successful and awarded Horizon Europe projects

  • The AI4EUROPE Horizon Europe Project: the main objective of this project is to support research excellence in Europe. The project was funded in 2022 and will end in 2025.

  • The MADRAS Horizon 2020 Project - ADVANCED MATERIALS AND PROCESSING IN ORGANIC ELECTRONICS. The project was funded in 2019 and it aims at enable the future market deployment of flexible and wearable OLAE-based products. The project succeeded to gather a multidisciplinary team of 12 partners from 5 European countries. The team has expertise in materials synthesis and ink formulation, printed sensors and electronics, manufacturing flexible electronic devices, printed and in mold electronics, and plastic processes.

  • The Graphene Flagship was funded by the European Commission in 2013 under Horizon 2020 program. It aims to take graphene and related materials from the lab to the market. The project was successful in bringing together researchers and companies from different disciplines and countries, and in making significant progress in the development of new graphene-based products and technologies.

Writing a proposal can be a challenging task, but by focusing on the excellence part, and following the tips and best practices provided, you can increase your chances of getting funding. It is important to note that the evaluation process for Horizon Europe funding proposals is very competitive and rigorous, and only a small percentage of proposals are awarded funding.

Are you interested in the Horizon Europe funding scheme? Are you looking for support to prepare your grant application? Contact NETO Innovation team here:


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