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Guide to the Consortium Agreement in Horizon Europe

Updated: Oct 30, 2023


Horizon Europe, the EU’s flagship research and innovation program, is designed to foster scientific excellence and drive innovation across Europe and beyond. To achieve its ambitious goals, Horizon Europe often involves collaborative research projects that bring together multiple organizations, such as universities, research institutions, and industry partners. These collaborations are made possible through Consortium Agreements, which play a crucial role in defining the terms and conditions of participation for all project partners.

Below, we cover Consortium Agreements within Horizon Europe, including their importance, key elements, and tools for effective project management in complex research undertakings.

Understanding the Consortium Agreement

A Consortium Agreement is a legally binding document that governs the relationship between the partners involved in a Horizon Europe research project. It outlines the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of each partner and serves as the cornerstone of effective project management. While the European Commission provides a model Consortium Agreement, known as DESCA (Development of a Simplified Consortium Agreement), partners are free to modify it to suit their specific project needs, ensuring flexibility while maintaining compliance with EU regulations.

The role of DESCA

The DESCA model Consortium Agreement serves as a valuable starting point for Horizon Europe projects. It offers a standardized framework that simplifies the negotiation process among project partners. DESCA streamlines complex legal matters into comprehensible language, making it accessible to both legal experts and non-experts alike. By providing clear templates and guidelines, DESCA facilitates smoother collaboration, reducing the risk of misunderstandings or disputes down the road.

Project partners can also customize DESCA to fit their project's unique requirements, tailoring provisions related to intellectual property rights, financial contributions, and dispute resolution mechanisms. This flexibility allows partners to maintain control over their intellectual assets while still fostering a collaborative environment.

Key elements of a Consortium Agreement

Regardless of whether you choose to use DESCA-based agreement or not, there are several essential elements to include in any Consortium Agreement, including:

1. Objectives and Scope

Clearly define the project's objectives, scope, and expected outcomes. This section lays the foundation for the entire agreement, aligning all partners with the project's overarching goals.

2. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Specify how intellectual property generated during the project will be managed, protected, and shared among partners. Address issues related to ownership, access rights, and potential commercialization.

3. Budget and Financial Contributions

Detail the project's budget, including the financial contributions from each partner. Define payment schedules, eligible costs, and the process for handling financial discrepancies.

4. Work Plan and Deliverables

Outline the project's work plan, including milestones, deadlines, and deliverables. This section ensures that all partners are aware of their responsibilities and timelines.

5. Governance and Decision-Making

Establish a clear governance structure, including the roles and responsibilities of partners, decision-making procedures, and mechanisms for resolving disputes.

6. Confidentiality

Define rules for handling confidential information within the consortium. Ensure that all partners commit to maintaining the confidentiality of sensitive data.

7. Termination and Exit Strategies

Include provisions for the early termination of the agreement and outline exit strategies for partners who wish to withdraw from the project.

8. Dissemination and Exploitation

Detail how project results will be disseminated and exploited, including provisions for publications, patent applications, and knowledge transfer.

9. Ethics and Compliance

Address ethical considerations and compliance with EU regulations, ensuring that all project activities adhere to ethical standards and legal requirements.

Managing Research Projects in Horizon Europe

Managing research projects in Horizon Europe requires a delicate balance of scientific expertise, administrative prowess, and effective communication. This includes assigning clear roles and responsibilities to each project partner, maintaining detailed records, and scheduling regular consortium meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and upcoming milestones. It is essential to address, at minimum, the following aspects when coordinating Horizon Europe projects with multiple consortium members:

  • Clearly defined roles

  • Regular meetings

  • Document everything

  • Continuous monitoring

  • Budget management

  • Dispute resolution

Complex projects and collaboration

Horizon Europe often funds projects that push the boundaries of research and innovation, leading to complex endeavors that involve diverse expertise and resources. While such projects come with unique challenges, they also offer immense opportunities for groundbreaking discoveries and advancements.

Success for such complex projects requires that consortium partners prioritize open communication, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to the project's objectives. Establishing a collaborative and inclusive environment can help harness the collective talents and resources of all partners, driving innovation and excellence in Horizon Europe research projects.

How Linq Consulting can help with Consortium Agreements

As Horizon Europe projects are typically collaborative processes, it is crucial to ensure that Consortium Agreements are done properly. Linq Consulting and Management specializes in all areas of creating and managing successful proposals and projects, including developing solid Consortium Agreements. Our team of expert researchers, writers, and project managers can help with all aspects of proposals as well as sustainable project management after successful grant funding.

With our expertise in grants management, we can help you secure – and make the most of – funding from Horizon Europe, as well as any other grant opportunities that may be available.

For more information on how we can help, get in touch with us at info@linq-consulting.com.

Be sure to follow us on X/Twitter @linq-consulting and connect with us on LinkedIn as well.


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