Grant Writing 101: Keys to Writing a Successful Horizon 2020 Proposal

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

With more than €100 billion available through the Horizon 2020 program and more coming in its successor, Horizon Europe, every company involved in sustainable technology development should be applying for funding. However, many deserving startups and established organizations are overlooked because of lacking or incomplete grant proposals. Some projects do not clearly communicate their relevance for industrial or governmental needs; for others, the grant writing process is unfamiliar and difficult.

LINQ Consulting has extensive experience writing successful project proposals, including several that have received funding from Horizon 2020. We can assist with your project proposal and help ensure that your collaborative efforts are successful.

What is Horizon 2020?

Horizon 2020 is the EU’s Research and Innovation program to invest in areas that utilize key emerging technologies such as food security, artificial intelligence, and clean energy. Horizon 2020 aims to move great ideas from the laboratory to market by providing financial assistance for promising new discoveries and potential breakthroughs.

The funding provided by the Horizon 2020 program can help a range of actors, from academia to industry. These funds can serve a variety of purposes including research and development, technology marketization, and funding scholarships for the next generation of scientific leaders.

Horizon 2020 is open to everyone, with calls for proposals from universities, corporations, small & medium enterprises (SMEs), and governments. The overarching goal of Horizon 2020 is to help promote cutting-edge science, remove barriers to scientific innovation, and facilitate private-public sector partnerships in R&D.

How does the Horizon 2020 Process Work?

Completing a proposal involves a considerable amount of work. Interested applicants must complete the call for applications through the project’s electronic system while also identifying national and international partners.

Applications must fulfill the needs of three main pillars of progress: applicable scientific value, societal impact, and industrial leadership. Unfortunately, most applicants only address the scientific aspect of the program, neglecting much needed coverage of industrial or societal concerns.

Familiarity with the Horizon 2020 Grant Process is Essential

The Horizon 2020 grant process is a multi-step process with specific rules and success criteria. If researchers assume what is required without assessing the detailed requirements, there will most likely be a gap between proposal content and what reviewers are looking for in the grant application.

Ideally, a proposal must be scientifically sound, include partnerships with relevant organisations, demonstrate tangible societal impact or industrial leadership, and have a working roadmap to accomplish the proposed work. For those more focused on the research itself, writing a proposal might result in added distress as well as a failure to secure funding.

Given that the familiarity with the Horizon 2020 grant process is essential for project success, it might be worth considering professional technical assistance.

Click here to see how LINQ Consulting can help you navigate the grant writing process

Collaboration – especially with industry – matters

Collaboration with the right partners is a key component of a winning proposal. Collaborative partnerships are recognised by local governments and government agencies, including the EU, as a safer and more reliable return on investment from grants. This is, in part, why collaborations are appealing to grant programs such as Horizon 2020 and other funders.

Collaboration with stakeholders has become a necessary skill in grant writing, proffering advantages such as shared resources, access to a depth of experience, joint knowledge, and error reduction. However, difficulties often arise from partners giving preference to their own goals. Ultimately, confusion or contention around roles, goals, and duties within the partnership stand as key impediments to success.

In short, collaboration is a necessary yet difficult endeavour.

Keys to collaborative success

Successful collaborations are productive and cooperative at all stages of the grant application process.

These collaborations are most successful when:

  • Partners share norms and principles that inform project goals

  • Roles and duties are clear, understood, and embraced by members

  • Roles and duties minimise redundancy and make significant progress toward goals

  • Partners realistically evaluate their goals, plans, and actions and remain adaptive to changes

While collaboration is key to the successful completion of a Horizon 2020 grant proposal, managing a collaborative project is a considerable amount of added work and requires involved management to make the process of submitting a grant application run smoothly.

How Linq Consulting can assist with your project proposal

The dedicated experts at Linq Consulting are available to assist with Horizon 2020 proposals at every stage of the writing and application process.

With our expertise in grants management, we can help you secure funding from Horizon 2020 and other grant opportunities.

Whether you represent a large organisation or run a small business, Linq Consulting will help locate funding opportunities and secure funding for your project.

If you or your organisation would like to secure available funding set aside for sustainability research and development, contact us at