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Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation, opens Horizon Europe DayWith an overall budget of €95.5 billion for the period 2021-2027, Horizon Europe represents the biggest investment ever made in European research and innovation. “Horizon Europe provides very interesting funding opportunities in areas that are important both for individual companies and research organisations, and for the Luxembourg economy as a whole,” said Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation, as she opened Horizon Europe Day. “The funding available can help companies become more productive, more resilient and better able to use resources efficiently, in particular during periods of crisis.”

The funding available can help companies become more productive, more resilient and better able to use resources efficiently.

Luxembourg participants were very successful in the previous framework programme, Horizon 2020, and obtained EU funding of over €200 million. This positive trend has continued under Horizon Europe: during its first 1.5 years, Luxembourg participants have already been awarded €75 million. Almost two-thirds of this sum went to private companies. “This confirms that the quality of research and innovation in Luxembourg is very high,” underlined Robert Kerger, Conseiller at the Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

Horizon Europe work programme 2023-2024 launch

The specific funding priorities and calls for proposals are defined through two-year work programmes. The work programmes for 2023-2024 were published just hours before the start of the event. This gave the National Contact Point team at Luxinnovation the perfect opportunity to introduce the key points of the following work programmes:

The team also presented the funding opportunities offered by the European Innovation Council.

“The first call for proposals under these new work programmes will already open tomorrow,” Stefano Pozzi Mucelli, Head of European R&D and Innovation Support at Luxinnovation, pointed out.

Success factors for Horizon Europe proposals

Panellists speak about Horizon Europe funding with impactAlthough Luxembourg participants have a success rate of 20% for their Horizon Europe proposals, which is well above the EU average, obtaining funding is far from easy. Luxinnovation invited three experienced applicants to share their insights into what is needed to prepare a successful project proposal.

I recommend using the first three months to define your project idea, the project outcomes and the objectives you need to set up to achieve them.

A top factor for success is to start well in advance – 6 to 9 months before the deadline for submitting proposals. “I recommend using the first three months to define your project idea, the project outcomes and the objectives you need to set up to achieve them,” said Sylvain Kubler, Research Scientist at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) of the University of Luxembourg. “Then you can start inviting the partners you will need, defining the work packages and determining the specific contribution of each partner. It is also helpful to ask your academic partners to bring in industrial partners from their countries.”

The importance of partners

“Including industrial partners is more than important,” emphasised Evangelos Delikonstantis, co-founder and Managing Director of Aristeng. “Horizon Europe projects are expected to have real impact on society and yield results that can be tested in an industrial environment. Having companies involved in the consortium increases its credibility.”

I worked together with Luxinnovation to identify key organisations from previous projects that I needed to involve.

Maria Rita Palattella, Senior Researcher at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), advised applicants to start working on their project ideas with a small core team of partners that they know well and trust. “Once you have laid the foundations, you can expand the group with other partners bringing different types of expertise. When preparing COMMECT, the project that I coordinate, I worked together with Luxinnovation to identify key organisations from previous projects that I ideally needed to involve.”

Building this network of core partners is a long-term investment. “I communicate with my core group daily or weekly,” Dr Delikonstantis pointed out. “We exchange ideas that we can use when the right opportunities come, read publications and follow up what other consortia are doing. This means that we know the trends and hot topics. When a relevant call is published, we are prepared to start working.”

Preparing projects with impact

2022 HOrizon Europe DayHorizon Europe requires projects to have an impact on society – a challenging criteria for applicants. “I’m a researcher, and business models and commercialisation are not my field of expertise,” said Mr Kubler. “I needed to think in a new way, focusing on the outcomes of the project rather than the research tasks to be performed and evaluate their impact over time. It was a real challenge.”

Mr Delikonstantis agreed. “You have to quantify the impact of research that you are planning to do over the coming 4 years, and this is not easy. However, if you get it right, you have high chances to receive funding.”

No matter the short-term outcome, it is still a winning process.

Although the process is challenging, the three panellists encouraged the audience to go ahead. “It is worth giving it a try,” Dr Palattella underlined. “You will learn a lot, and even if your first proposal is not accepted, you will meet interesting partners who might invite you to be part of other consortia in the future. No matter the outcome in the short-term, it is still a winning process.”

They also strongly recommended taking advantage of the support services offered by Luxinnovation. “Come and talk to us!” Ms Baillie said. “Let us know about your interests and strategic objectives. Let’s discuss how we can support you, so that together we can continue boosting Luxembourg’s successful participation in Horizon Europe.”

Photos: © Luxinnovation/Kaori Joliffe

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