Last week I attended the UKRO annual conference in Bristol. This was a great opportunity to get out of the office and immerse myself in the wonderful world of European funding, particularly Horizon 2020. It was well attended by a huge range of UK universities and a good mix of European Commission speakers.
Here are some quick facts I’ve gleaned that may be of interest to potential and current Horizon 2020 applicants.
- Discussions have begun between the EC and member states on setting the strategic direction and work programmes for 2016-17. This is an opportunity for UK universities to feed in views to UKRO who speak regularly to BIS as the representatives of UK interests. UK is also well represented on the H2020 advisory groups. Lots of people, including member states and the EC, feel that something more than lip service needs to be paid to mainstreaming social sciences and humanities but no one is clear what this should look like! (Any ideas?)
- H2020 will shortly include a new pilot activity: “fast track to innovation” for small industry-driven consortia, a bit like the UK Longitude Prize. The competition will be launched in autumn or early 2015. This can (and should) include academic involvement.
- It was said again that MSCA fellowships lay the ground for applicants to successfully apply for ERC grants. It was pointed out that Advanced Grant applicants do not have to be mid-late career, the ERC has funded (a few) people in their 20s. It depends on the field. Also, no PhD is needed for Advanced Grants.
- ERC Starting Grants call 2014: 20-25% of of the 3272 applications are resubmissions. For Starting and Consolidator Grants next year, the EC is considering extending the eligibility window for time post-PhD as well as reducing the minimum time commitment for Consolidator grantees to 40% from 50%. The EC expects to fund 330 grants under each call (Starting and Consolidator) in 2015. 20% fewer people applied for Consolidator Grants this year, numbers stayed the same for Starting Grants.
- H2020 so far: 156 calls published, 59 have closed. More than 16000 proposals submitted, more than €4bn funding requested.
- FP7 success rate was 1 in 5 over the whole programme. The first indications for H2020 suggest 1 in 9 is more likely. Health and energy areas are particularly over-subscribed.
- There will be no negotiation phase before a contract signed and there is now an 8 month limit time to grant: 5 months evaluation, 3 months grant preparation. If budgets are overinflated, they will be scored low and not be funded- no negotiation. Although during grant preparation stage there will be an opportunity to take into account reviewers comments which may change the budget or proposed activities slightly. This will essentially be a voluntary process of about 3 weeks maximum.
- MSCA ITNS expect to continue with around a 10% success rate as the number of proposals submitted to the 2014 call (1164) remains stable. ITNs can include non-academics partners. The EC wants to see innovative training programmes and are particularly keen on entrepreneurship, commercialisation, innovation skills, IPR etc. These must each be defined in individual career development plans. To date, the UK has done very well in ITNs – up to 80% of ITNs have at least one UK beneficiary. 28% have UK coordinators. The next call will be published on 2 Sept 2014. (There will be a batch of calls published then with Dec/Jan closing dates).
I have more information if you have any questions and all the presentatoins from the conference are available to UKRO subscribers here