Commission plans to improve Horizon 2020 project success rates

10 July, Brussels – The European Commission is planning to make changes to the way that Horizon 2020 projects are assessed, so as to improve the success rate of projects. With low success rates at present, it is feared that applicants will stop applying if the Commission does not intervene.

In the previous research programme, FP7, the success rate was around 20%, whilst for Horizon 2020 it is now standing at 12%. The low success rate is primarily a result of high demand for the new programme. Rather than trying to cut demand, the Commission is looking to separate good proposals from bad ones, faster, so as to reduce the costs of preparing a losing application.

Firstly, the two-stage evaluation procedure which has already been used in some Horizon 2020 calls will be more widely used. The first stage application is shorter, and allows evaluators to weed out the weakest concepts and proposals, before time is spent developing a full proposal. The Commission estimates that the proposals that pass this first stage would then have around a 35% chance of approval.

Secondly, evaluators of projects will be instructed to pay greater attention to expected impact of the project – that is, the social and economic outcomes, rather than just high quality science.

For more information, see ScienceBusiness.

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