Funding opportunities at the European level

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Funding opportunities at the European level

Angéline Serre has joined the Cochrane Communication and External Affairs Department (CEAD) in September 2015 with the aim of stimulating and accompanying the participation of Cochrane teams in European funding programs. She has a background in health research (PhD in neurosciences) and an expertise in developing applications for EU calls for proposals and managing successful projects. She is now ready to support the blossoming of your ideas and tells us more in this blogpost.

You need to fund research activities, training actions, or to establish strategic partnerships….
Have you ever considered the opportunities provided by the European Commission (EC)?


The European Commission (EC) provides a wide range of possibilities to cover the costs linked to research activities implemented in the European Union and beyond. Its most important programme, Horizon 2020 (H2020), will distribute almost €80 billion through 2020 to enhance excellent science, encourage industrial leadership, and address societal challenges. The selection of the most deserving projects relies on the publication of annual calls for proposals. Strict rules and procedures have to be followed here. Cochrane and Cochrane Groups have already been successfully involved in several projects funded at the European level, including HimL (Health in my Language); ECRAN (European Communication on Research Awareness Needs); DECIDE (Developing and Evaluating Communication Strategies to Support Informed Decisions and Practice Based on Evidence); and more recently INTERACT (the INTernAtional network on Crisis Translation). This illustrates the potential of EC funding for Cochrane. To increase your chances of success it is essential to do the following:

1. Be informed of open and forthcoming calls. Calls for proposals are published in advance and can be consulted on the EC participant portal: open and forthcoming calls. National Contact Points (NCPs) might also be able to orientate your search or support your watch. They regularly organize workshops and information days to communicate about work programs. In addition, many academic institutions have people in charge of EU matters and are there to help their staff with EU bids. Check whether your institution has such an EU liaison person that can support you with your bids.

2. Become familiar with recurrent programs, such as the 3rd EU health program, the Active and Assisted Living (AAL) program, Marie Curie actions, initiatives targeting societal challenges, Erasmus +, or the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). Mechanisms, objectives and thematic vary largely from one to another and you need to identify the program and topic that best meets your needs.

3. Advocate your ideas at the European level – isn’t it the ideal situation to answer a call for proposals that has been specifically designed for your project? National entities (e.g., ministries or research organisations) are regularly consulted by the EC to identify the national challenges and research priorities. Transmitting your ideas, reflections and suggestions to your national network (e.g., NCPs and EU liaison persons in your institutions) might therefore impact the subsequent work-programs, satisfy your needs and increase your chances of success. 

4. Develop high-level cooperation and be ambitious – excellence and innovation are primary evaluation criteria. The coordinator of a consortium needs to be a leader in the thematic area the call is trying to address. It is this leader that should establish the consortium of partners, combining complementary skills and expertise. Each consortium partner thus contributes a unique part to the proposal.

5. Get advice and support for drafting proposals and meeting EC expectations - don’t hesitate to contact experienced colleagues and specialists. The network of National Contact Points (NCPs) is the main structure to provide guidance, practical information, and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon 2020. The Cochrane EU funding coordinator (Dr Angéline Serre) can also provide information, answer questions, accompany initiatives, and facilitate project submission and implementation for Cochrane Groups.

For more information, also have a look at the webinar on EU funding opportunities which is now accessible on Cochrane's YouTube channel. It briefly introduces the major funding programs, explains the general application procedures, and provides some indications related to the management of the grant if successful.

Please do get in touch with the Cochrane EU Funding Coordinator should you need more information: Angéline Serre

Thanks to Sylvia de Haan for her valuable contribution to this post.

September 20, 2016

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