So you want to apply for EU funds? First 3 steps we suggest you take



We recently held a webinar titled Fast-track to EU Funding and Horizon 2020; participants were from different countries, types of organisations and fields, but all had one objective in common: hacking their way through the jungle of EU funds, programmes and projects, and get started with project applications.


Let me now share with you the key take-aways in terms of the first steps you should take if you want to enter the EU funding game.



  1. Understand the EU logic

EU Projects are one of the tools of the European Union to implement its political priorities. Get familiar with how the European Union’s budget is distributed, which funding programmes exist, by whom they are implemented and to which purpose. Whenever you identify a relevant funding programme for your research or business field, make sure you read the corresponding Work Programme, as these strategic documents usually explain the current policy landscape, objectives and challenges – extremely valuable intelligence for you to increase your success chances by proving that your proposal is filling policy gaps!


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  1. Search for funding opportunities in your field across different Programmes, and understand the different types of activities that can be funded

EU funding programmes sometimes present a thematic overlap, so if you stick to one single Programme in your search you may miss out on other relevant opportunities. How to do this? One of the quickest ways is to use the “Search Topics” tab on the Participant Portal, which manages 15 different EU Programmes, including Horizon 2020, covering pretty much the whole spectrum of fields of research and business. On the other hand, make sure you fully understand the types of activities that can be funded under each programme or sub-programme: are you allowed to carry out research, demonstration or rather communication, awareness raising activities?


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  1. Clarify the expertise your institution may offer to a consortium as partner, or the type of project you want to build, as coordinator

There are several ways you can find potential partners across Europe, even if you have always worked with organisations in your country.

  • Participate in Info Days and other EU events

Info-days are typically two-day events organised by the European Commission (its Directorate Generals or its Executive Agencies) and focusing on a specific field/Work Programme. Here, you will meet Commission officers who are responsible for individual calls for proposals, as well as other organisations from all corners of the world that are interested in coordinating or participating in a proposal. Usually you will also have the chance to present your expertise and/or your ideas for a new consortium.

  • Fully exploit National Contact Points across Europe

Send your own National Contact Point a one-pager about your expertise and list of calls for proposals you are interested in, or a short concept note about the proposal you are putting together and a description of the type of organisation and expertise you are looking for. The NCPs have close relations with each other and long mailing lists of key stakeholders and will help you circulate your request.

  • Become familiar with project databases, such as CORDIS

You can conduct an advanced search and find all funded projects in a specific field since FP1: check who are the key players in the field, but also the ideas or activities that have already been funded – the EU is probably not going to fund them again.


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