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Success tips for Horizon Europe coordinators

Success tips for Horizon Europe coordinators

On 1 March 2024, Luxinnovation organised a brunch with current and prospective coordinators of Horizon Europe (HE) projects. The discussions provided invaluable insights into the submission process and management of collaborative projects within the HE programme.
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“The aim of a collaborating project within HE is to bring research ideas to the world and to impact EU policies. As beneficiaries, you are all responsible for the implementation of the project, with the coordinator serving as a pivotal figure in this endeavour,” explained Francesca Borrelli, Senior Advisor of the European R&D and Innovation Support at Luxinnovation.

The Brunch with Coordinators provided a valuable platform for exchange among participants, shedding light on the importance of meticulous planning, effective communication, and strategic partnership building in increasing the chances of a successful application and ensuring project success. The coordinators offered a roadmap to participants, empowering them to navigate the intricacies of Horizon Europe projects.

Horizon Europe is by definition collaborative research.
Francisco Melo, Luxinnovation

Participants were able to get valuable information from experienced coordinators on the responsibilities, challenges, skills, and attributes necessary for a successful project implementation, spanning from the proposal submission to project execution phase.

“Horizon Europe is by definition collaborative research,” highlighted Francisco Melo, Advisor - European R&D and Innovation Support, during a panel discussion that covered several key tasks of HE project coordinators.

Project initiation and planning

The panel began by sharing best practices for initiating the projects. Invited coordinators highlighted the significance of early preparation, establishing core writing teams with partners, and identifying expertise through internal mapping and discussions that provide a fundamental starting point.

Veronique Van Acker, Head Research Scientist at the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research, reflecting on her journey, shared her path to coordination.

I was not successful in consortia where I was partner, then I thought I can do this job better and become a coordinator too.
Veronique Van Acker, LISER

Birte Nienaber, Associate Professor at the University of Luxembourg, stressed the importance of aligning partners' expertise with the project's core objectives, emphasising the need for reliable collaborators. Maria Rita Palattella, Senior Research and Technology Associate at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology supported the idea, advocating for a strong core team of three to four partners, essential for project success.


Maria Rita Palattella explained the significance of negotiation skills and equitable distribution of resources. "Budget is a priority for everyone. You have to allocate the budget according to the tasks and responsibilities and not according to the most important partners," she advised, shedding light on the nuances of financial management in collaborative projects.

Two-stage proposals and its challenges

On his experience with two-stage calls, Renaud Leturcq, Lead Research and Technology Associate at Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, stated that “Handling the process of motivating teams for the second stage, along with crafting the extended full proposal, underscores the challenges of two-stage calls.” Leveraging feedback from initial evaluations and collaborating with consultants eases the path for the second submission.

Knowledge gaps and partner engagement

Panellists also emphasised the value of in-person meetings for building trust. Besides, setting up coordination support teams, utilising progress tracking tools, and organising bilateral meetings with work package leaders were underscored as key tools to ensure effective communication and progress monitoring.

Veronique Van Acker, amidst discussions on missing expertise, stressed the need for clarity of vision. “Be prepared first, have something very well structured in mind," she emphasised, advocating for a proactive approach to addressing knowledge gaps.

Communication with EU Commission

Coordinators highlighted the importance of effective communication with the EU Commission, acknowledging their supportive role in project implementation. Renaud Leturcq shared: “What I appreciate is the direct and seamless communication with the project officers who provide great support and advice.”

Prof. Nienaber's stressed the value of creating a common space for mutual discussion between government representatives and vulnerable actors. "During our project Empowerment of Migrants, we put together policymakers and migrants. Policymakers never talked with them before," she shared.

5 key takeaways

  • Prioritise partner selection based on expertise alignment.
  • Use tools and preparation strategies for proposal writing.
  • Develop negotiation skills for effective budget allocation.
  • Incorporate feedback from external reviews to enhance proposal clarity and quality.
  • Focus on societal impact through meaningful engagement with stakeholders.

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