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Timeline for writing a Horizon Europe proposal

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

While there is no set timeline that needs to be followed to the letter, Horizon Europe proposal development should be carried out at a steady, somewhat swift pace – all while adhering to the strict requirements of the proposal structure that is outlined in the call text for the specific grant being sought.

Below is a recommended timeline that is based on experience preparing Horizon Europe proposals since the inception of the program. It is broken down into two stages: the grant writing stage and the proposal submission stage – with a third stage that will only be applied if grant funding is awarded to the project.

First stage: Grant proposal development

There are several steps to developing a successful grant proposal, and although there is no absolute strict order in which they need to be completed, there are strict parameters that need to be followed – and following the suggested timeline below is the best way to ensure they are properly met.

1. Prepare the preliminary project summary

~3 months before deadline

This summary should be a live, working document, which will help in shaping both the project and consortium structure. Highlighted information should include the objectives and overall end result of the project. It should be around two pages long and not go into excess detail – that comes later.

Sharing your project summary with and having the overall concept evaluated by a National Contact Point is also a good idea at this stage.

2. Prepare a list of partners and begin constructing your consortium

~2 months before deadline

Based on the preliminary project summary, you should begin to recruit partners for the project. This should be done earlier rather than later since the partners should take an active role in developing the project proposal and will need to provide specific information. A consortium gap analysis against the call text can help identify what type of partners may still be needed.

3. Gather input from the partners – with very clear instructions

~2 months before deadline

As soon as the list of partners has been finalized (or even before), you should begin allocating tasks and start the writing process. Input can be provided via a questionnaire or directly in the proposal document, depending on the experience of the partners and the agreed way of working. Be sure to give partners specific instructions, in line with the official call text guidelines, and spend time on thoroughly discussing the work plan together. The preliminary budgets can also be addressed at this time.

4. Open a submission system in the Horizon Europe Funding & Tenders Portal

1 – 2 months before deadline

This may sound easy (or perhaps not), but you will need to have certain information available to make this an efficient process – otherwise it can become quite time consuming. This includes the Partner Identification Codes (PIC numbers), partner contacts, and the proposal acronym.

5. Collect administrative information from partners

1 – 2 months before deadline

Each partner should fill in specific administrative details in the electronic submission system, which, again, can be quite a challenge with navigating the system, especially with less experienced partners. Make sure you do not postpone this step, and monitor partner progress to ensure that there aren’t any validation errors. Alternatively, the information can be collected in a template document and input by the Project Coordinator or by your consultant.

6. First full draft of the proposal

~1 month before deadline

It is imperative to have a finished first draft of the full proposal, including all three key sections (Excellence, Impact, and Implementation) at least a month before the call deadline. If possible, give your consortium even more time for fine tuning the sections, budgeting, graphics, project summary, and other proofing needs.

7. Take care of any supplementary aspects

~1 month before deadline

This includes taking care of details such as ethics, security, and finalizing the budget. Addressing and answering ethical aspects and requirements may take a long time to handle in the proposal development phase depending on the nature of the project, and finalizing a budget can take even longer. Getting the budget right is a process that usually only comes together in the very last phase of the proposal development process after the work plan has been finalised, so it should be addressed continuously from this point onwards.

8. Near-final draft

~1 week before deadline

During the final week before the submission deadline, the focus should be on making final touches and proofreading. It is good to seek feedback from partners at this stage on proposal readability, but it is not recommended to solicit any new input regarding additions or changes beyond grammar and sentence structure (or other similar issues).

After this, the proposal is ready to enter the second stage of the process.

Second stage: Proposal submission

9. Final draft and first submission

2 – 3 days before deadline

The Horizon Europe system is designed to allow multiple submissions of multiple versions of the proposal, right up until the deadline, with only the last version submitted being reviewed in the end. With the very real possibility that unforeseen technical errors could occur within the system, such as brief instability or overloading, it is best to take advantage of this to ensure no validation errors occur, allowing the proposal to be uploaded without issues onto the system before the deadline, which is not extendable by any means.

10. Final submission

1 day before deadline

Try to submit the final version the day before the deadline, or, if possible, early in the day on the submission date. After this, there is nothing left to do except wait to hear back from the grant project funding committee that makes the final decision.

Third stage: Successful grant application

What comes next after submitting your proposal? If you are successful and a grant is awarded, funding will be made available within 1 – 3 months (see our article on how Horizon Europe grant financing works here).

How Linq can help

Linq Consulting specializes in all areas of creating and managing successful proposals and projects, with dedicated project managers that have extensive experience with multi-million Euro collaborative research projects. Our team of expert researchers, writers, and project managers can help with all aspects of not only writing a successful grant proposal, but also carrying it through and implementing it for Horizon Europe projects.

Whether it is navigating the grant application landscape, managing the full proposal process, or drafting the full proposal document, we can help get your proposal ready for the final review. The dedicated experts at Linq Consulting are available to assist with Horizon Europe proposals at every stage of the writing and application process.

For more information on how we can help, get in touch with us at

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

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