Top 5 reasons why your grant application didn’t make the cut

So, you have been working on your grant application for weeks, you’ve spent all your nightly hours on writing and finishing the smallest details. Maybe your entire life’s work is combined into one great effort to get the funds for the crown on all your achievements. You submit, and wait… until the dreaded letter of rejection drops in your e-mail box. You have not been able to convince the reviewer(s) to award your proposal with the requested funds. How did this happen? Why were you not able to convince the reviewer?

There are many different reasons as to why your grant application did not make the cut. Our grant-writing experts explain the most common reasons they encountered during their years in the field.

1. The reviewer did not understand what you wrote.

Maybe obvious, but it all starts with writing clear and concise. All these great ideas have been boiling up in your head, and now they must be put to paper. That is difficult, but how do you write down exactly what you mean? Firstly, start each paragraph with the conclusion of that paragraph, that is what you want to say. Secondly, following this conclusion, only write sentences that support that conclusion, nothing else. Thirdly, repeat for each paragraph. Another great trick, focus each paragraph on only one topic.

2. It took the reviewer a long time to go through your proposal.

You are a great scientist or product developer, and know how to write, right? Yes, you are right, you know how to write. But do you also know how to write in a way that will help a reviewer minimize the time he or she must spend reading it? Is it necessary to explain a medical problem in detail if everybody already knows that cardiovascular diseases are deadly? Be aware that reviewers must plow through a seemingly unending stream of proposals. Help them save time with yours, and you might just be rewarded for it.

3. Your application, even though highly innovative and with great impact, did not match with the scope of the subsidy tender.

Nobody gives away free money just for the fun of it. Everyone providing a subsidy has some goal with it, and if you want that money, you better make sure your proposal addresses that goal. No matter how innovative your idea is, and how beneficial it may be, if it does not match with the scope of the subsidy tender, you will receive that dreaded rejection letter.

4. Your proposal was reviewed by the wrong reviewer.

If you often write grant proposals, at some point you must have had the feeling ‘this reviewer just didn’t get it, if another would have reviewed, it would have surely been awarded’. Even though this may be true, it doesn’t change the fact that you have just been rejected. And was the problem really that the wrong person reviewed your proposal, or that you wrote the proposal for the wrong reviewer? The lesson to be learned is that you must know what type of person will review your proposal. If you know your reviewer is going to be a scientist, write scientifically, if you know it’s going to be an entrepreneur, focus on feasibility and return on investment.

5. The reviewer just did not like your project.

The most painful rejection comes when the reviewer clearly understood what you wrote down, it was reviewed efficiently, it matched with the subsidy tender, and was reviewed by the correct reviewer, but was still rejected. There is only one conclusion, you don’t have the right idea. Even though painful, this can happen. Don’t be discouraged, change your proposal! The reviewer just gave you valuable information that maybe your idea is not innovative enough. In that case, call your colleagues, enter into a new collaboration, add a new type of technology, and make your application more innovative. Maybe your idea was innovative, but the reviewer did not believe the intellectual property (IP) was properly protected. Call the Technology Transfer Office, or an external specialist and get your IP in order! Maybe the reviewer did not believe you had the required expertise. In that case, team up with a partner that does. At the end of the day you are in control of your application, you can change the content, and you can make sure the next time you will win!

Next time, make the cut

Catalyze is the market leader in obtaining funding for biomedial and healthcare innovations, as well as for projects in the related ICT, eHealth and big data fields. We can help you secure the financing you need for your ambitious projects, and accelerate your innovations. With our extensive experience and strong consulting team, your project has higher chances of making the cut. Contact us and let us know how we can help you.



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