Preparing your Plan for Dissemination and Exploitation

All proposals need good communication plans – but Horizon Europe funding requires excellent plans dissemination and exploitation in particular.


As with its predecessor, Horizon 2020, communication remains not only a requirement under Horizon Europe, but also emphasises the specific importance of dissemination and exploitation. These latter steps in the project process are crucial to ensure each successful project achieves impact on three levels: scientific, societal, and economic. Additionally, continuous reporting of dissemination and exploitation activities is required throughout the entire course of the project, and members of the project consortia (which, with Horizon Europe’s emphasis on including industry partners in projects, are potentially numerous) are sometimes required to continue such reporting after the project has ended.


One of the lessons learned from Horizon 2020 is that dissemination and exploitation are crucial to include from the start of the project design stage all the way through to implementation of project results in the real world.


Below is a brief synopsis of what constitutes dissemination and exploitation, how they differ, and some guidelines on implementing these areas in a successful Horizon Europe project.


Dissemination of research – what is dissemination?


Dissemination is, in essence, the act of making project results known. It is a form of broadcasting information to a specific audience rather than to a wide group of people, ensuring relevant project information reaches appropriate scientific or industrial communities that can help move the project along even further – or to use the project work to help their own in a common pursuit.


Though some people may think of dissemination as just a form of general communication, when used properly it has the distinct advantage of being targeted at people that will benefit from it and get the most out of it. This is usually a first step after project results are obtained or a project is satisfactorily completed.


Dissemination and exploitation – what is the difference?


While dissemination involves sharing research results with peers, industry partners, commercial actors, or policymakers, exploitation is the use of these results for commercial purposes or public policymaking; if dissemination is the act of making results known, exploitation is valorization of these results.


Exploitation usually follows dissemination, since results need to be known before they are used for any purposes. It is therefore last in the timeline of communication and impacts scientific, industrial, societal, and governmental groups the most, ideally enhancing the value and applicability of project results in the real world.


Guidelines for dissemination and exploitation in Horizon Europe projects


Below is a set of guidelines that can be a useful approach to implementing dissemination and exploitation in your Horizon Europe proposals. While these guidelines are not compulsory (at least not all of them), they offer a high-level overview of what is expected from successful proposals and projects that receive Horizon Europe funding.


1. Understand the policy context of the call for proposals.

First things first, before anything else, make sure your proposal and project aligns with the call text for the specific grant being offered. Then, identify in detail how your project will address the aims of the call.


2. Prepare your exploitation and dissemination plan carefully.

Under Horizon Europe guidelines, this must be a distinct part of your proposal. While there is no default template for this section, the plan needs to be precise and state in which areas the project intends to make an impact, what needs will be met because of the project, and what outputs will come from the project. It is also important to identify the potential end-users and stakeholders in this plan, and outline how they will be adequately addressed. Dissemination should not be an afterthought – it is an integral part of the proposal process and project implementation.


3. Involve potential end-users and stakeholders in your proposal.

This is crucial given that stakeholders and end-users are the ones driving the main objectives of the project – and if you manage to engage these actors from an early stage, they may even prove invaluable in guiding the project to success.


4. Implement open access and consider how you manage your data.

All proposals that receive Horizon Europe funding must ensure that any article published stemming from project work is openly accessible and free of charge in accordance with article 29.2. of the Model Grant Agreement. It is important to ensure this obligation is properly met; a data management plan is extremely useful (and mandatory) for outlining and organizing how data is generated, curated, and made accessible.


5. Say how you expect the results of your project to be applied.

Explain how both direct and indirect applications will be created in the real world from your project success. Plans in general, but also partner-specific information give extra concreteness to your proposal.


6. Give the main advantages of what will emerge from your project.

This could range from direct advantages, such as new models or better processes, to something indirect, such as reduced energy usage or improved safety in an entire sector or industry.


7. Show you understand the barriers to any application of your results.

This could include understanding the possibility of inadequate financing, skills shortages, arduous regulations, IP issues, and even a mismatch between market needs and what your project is attempting to create or advance. It is critical that your proposal shows that you understand these potential problems and that you have a plan in place to address them.


8. Think ahead.

What further steps are needed in order to apply project outcomes in the real world? Which target groups should you approach during the project implementation and how will you reach them? Thinking these aspects through with the consortium partners during the proposal preparation gives confidence that your project will put actions in place to realise the promised outcomes.


How Linq can help with project dissemination and communication


While all forms of communication are important, some are more important than others at certain stages of the project. Along with good project management, excellent communication skills are essential when it comes to dissemination and sharing results, which is a crucial piece when it comes to reaching intended project goals.


Linq Consulting specializes in project management and communication, from the grant proposal stage all the way through to implementation in the real world. Our expert team of grant writers, project managers, and project communication specialists have helped numerous projects get funding and get to market from Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe and other EU-funded grant programs.


Contact us at contact@linq-consulting.com for more information.


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Further reading on project dissemination: