10 Tips for a successful proposal in a competitive European research environment

1-Understanding how FP7 works

You can apply for FP7 funds by submitting a proposal following a call published by the European Commission. Within FP7 you find different programmes and some of them follow different rules. Knowing and understanding these rules is key.

2-Getting there needs time and resources

Submitting a proposal needs time and you should not delay preparing until the call. We advise you to start working on your network now . When preparing a proposal as coordinator you need to expect to spend 2 man months work at least and significant travelling. As Work Package leader you should expect to spend 1 man month preparation time including travel costs and time.

3- Do your reading

Every published call is accompanied by important documents. Download Work Programmes, Guide for Participants and more legal documents on the Cordis pages. Find good arguments why your project is important in policy documents, statistics in OECD studies, strategic research agendas and visions published by Technology Platforms.

4- Study what has been done before and by whom

Often themes called and described in the work programme have a history of previous projects. Find these on Cordis and study who participated. You might find partners for your project and learn about possible competitors for your proposal.

5- Visit information events

The Commission organizes public information events on calls. There you get the chance to discuss with Scientific Officers from the Commission. You might meet potential partners and competing groups. Eurοsearch organizes call information events and supportive events too and assists you in figuring out whether your project idea matches a theme.

6-Bring together the perfect consortium

A good consortium is a key factor for success. Build your consortium early. Make sure you get the best partners that are well known in Europe. You must build a European consortium, with partners who fit perfectly to accomplish the tasks. Look for a balanced work plan with well defined tasks and deliverables for each partner.

Only take partners or engage in a consortium where you feel comfortable and where you sense the will to accomplish. In some themes you find dedicated partner search facilities, such as Ideal-IST for ICT, or SMEgoHealth.

7- Write the perfect proposal

Your proposal must lay out the science and technology. But it is also a marketing document. All proposals are peer evaluated by experts. You only get one chance and you must sell your proposal to the expert who has no time to go in every detail. Help the expert by telling her/him why your proposal must be funded. Be concise und underline key messages with schemes and graphs. Be specific and determined: Avoid "should and could" formulations. Be clear and consistent: Make sure all your objectives are consistently described. Get all the help you can get, use our screening support and ask non-experts to read your proposal.

8-Keep the evaluation criteria in mind

You find the evaluation criteria in the guide for applicants for your call. Study them thoroughly. Write your proposal in a way that makes it easy for the expert to fill out her evaluation from. Every half point counts!

Use charts, tables and graphs to describe your management structure, work plan and concepts. Underline the complementarity and balance of your consortium. Highlight the quality of your partners and the progress beyond state of the art. Tell the evaluator how your project contributes to the expected impact AT EUROPEAN level. Convince the reader on your dissemination or exploitation of results and/or IPR.

9- Make sure your proposal fits the eligibility criteria

Some topics may have strict eligibility criteria, such as SME participation or budgets. Carefully study the Work Programme and follow the eligibility criteria. Call your Euresearch Regional Office for an elegibility check.

10-Submit in time a complete proposal

Call deadlines are absolute deadlines and one minute too late is too late. Submit your proposal, even if not entirely finished, and update it on the Electronic Proposal Submission System, EPSS. At the day of deadline the EPSS might be slow.

Make sure your proposal is complete and ask your Euresearch Regional Office for a check.