Horizon Europe Tips for a Large Collaborative Proposal

Our Horizon Europe experts have shared their 3 top tips for preparing proposals to large collaborative calls.

The Horizon Europe programme is one of the most prestigious grant programmes in Europe. It offers especially interesting funding opportunities, but can be highly competitive, depending on the call. Although the topics of the calls vary strongly, there are several key elements that consistently contribute towards developing a winning Horizon Europe large collaborative proposal. Based on our extensive experience with these types of projects, we have three tips for the development of your project proposal:

1. Develop SMART objectives for success.

Strong and clear objectives of your project are essential. These are specifically required in section 1.1 of the proposal template, and evaluators are asked to score the clarity and pertinence of your objectives. Therefore, we advise you to spend significant time and effort on defining the objectives. We advise to develop the objectives based on the SMART-concept (describe how the objective is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely).

Adopting this structure, ideally in a table format, allows you to address the template requirements in a clear and effective way and enables the evaluators to find this information easily.

2. Start consortium building early.

For a winning Horizon Europe proposal, you need to build an EU-wide public private partnership, which often also includes end-users, e.g. patients. A Horizon Europe consortium can consist of up to 15-20 partners for large calls. Thus, it is important to start the process of bringing these partners together as early as possible. We advise starting consortium building 6 months before the deadline, to ensure the final consortium is in place 2 months before the deadline. This ensures that there is sufficient time for the partners to collaborate and contribute to the proposal’s development. It is important to have a good spread of partners over the EU (beyond the minimally required 3 different countries). If you need help, Catalyze possesses extensive networks in Europe to support you in finding any missing partners. Make sure you also include expertise in dissemination and communication and project management within the consortium, either through partners or subcontracting. Catalyze has a specialized department providing these services to a wide range of successful projects, totalling over €300 million.  Link to services

3. Understand and address the call text.

Horizon calls are top down, which means the research topics and outcomes have been defined upfront. These are described in the call text. In the writing process, you therefore need to ensure that you address all mandatory aspects of the call in order to submit a competitive proposal. This generally includes objectives, as well as expected outcomes and impacts. Sometimes your project needs to address all of these aspects, and sometimes only some. Before you can address these aspects, it is important to make sure that you completely understand the call text. We advise setting up a brainstorming session with the core partners of the consortium to discuss the call text in detail and ensure that you interpret the call requirements in the same way. This will allow you to develop a solid concept, which is fundamental to winning a Horizon project. If you need help with this process, Catalyze can support in matching your concept to the Horizon call text of your interest, and repositioning the ideas where needed.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you are interested in developing a proposal for a large collaborative Horizon Europe project, we are happy to help!



Download our 2024 Horizon Europe Guide

There’s a lot to take into consideration when applying for Horizon Europe funding: budget, consortium partners, application processes, activities, and specific conditions. Our Horizon Europe Guide gives you insights on how to write an appealing proposal, gives all the success criteria and maximizes your chances of getting funded.

Download our free guide



Horizon Europe success story: TETTRIs

“TETTRIs is a turning point for the taxonomy community gathered around CETAF, the unique association in Europe focused on taxonomy and systematics.” – Ana Casino, Executive Director of CETAF (Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities), and Project Technical Coordinator of TETTRIs


TETTRIs was awarded ~€6 million from Horizon Europe’s Cluster 6 call and is a crucial building block for the future of taxonomy, offering a roadmap for its transformation and ensuring sustainability for the future.

“Catalyze’s support was instrumental”

“Catalyze’s support helped us to identify how all our ideas for the project fitted together, and could be merged towards a meaningful proposal. I think the whole TETTRIs consortium is aware that Catalyze’s support was instrumental to produce a successful proposal. So I think everyone was delighted with the effectiveness of the collaboration.” – Ana Casino, Executive Director of CETAF (Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities), and Project Technical Coordinator of TETTRIs

Read the full interview: TETTRIs – a new vision for European taxonomy


Horizon Europe: Further reading


This article was written by Susan Barendrecht, PhD, Helen Pothuizen, PhD, and Katy Greenland.


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