The Importance of Research Partnerships in Horizon Europe Applications

As research organizations and universities continue to drive research and innovation in Europe, the Horizon Europe program has become a critical source of funding and support. Horizon Europe aims to promote breakthrough research and innovation across Europe, providing financing research activities that facilitate economic growth, competitiveness, and societal progress.

Under Horizon Europe, research organizations and universities have the opportunity to receive funding for research activities in areas such as energy, climate, health, and digital technology. With a budget of €95.5 billion, the program is the EU’s largest investment in research and innovation and prioritizes investment in areas that can drive sustainability, economic growth, and progress.

These institutions can, through this program, leverage their knowledge and expertise to drive innovation and tackle major societal challenges.

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The program encourages collaboration and cooperation between researchers and innovators, fostering relationships that can support the exchange of ideas and knowledge, recognizing the importance of private-public partnerships in driving innovation, encouraging research organizations and universities to partner with businesses and governments to transform research into practical solutions that benefit society. By facilitating a stronger connection between research and industry, Horizon Europe can facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology to the market.


Use Case:  A successful partnership with Plymouth University

The University of Plymouth has partnered up with six other leading organisations to help facilitate the launch of PLOTEC, a € 3.5 million project funded by Horizon Europe and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). 

PLOTEC seeks to design an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) system capable of surviving extreme environmental conditions in tropical oceans. Through this endeavour, they aim to use advanced marine engineering principles, materials, computational modelling technologies and capacity-building initiatives to create new products, services and business models at a local level whilst also reducing Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) for OTEC systems in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and EU’s Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).


The PLOTEC Team and IFE team (

The University of Plymouth’s role in this ambitious project is irreplaceable – from deploying robotic prototypes in natural environments as part of the project’s research activities to creating experts through education programmes designed for students from SIDS countries. IFE made the administrative side of the process a lot easier for the University of Plymouth, ensuring that all necessary documents were submitted in a timely manner and connected them directly to the right partners.

 “Working with Impact Funding Europe on the PLOTEC project has been a great experience. They have done an incredible job handling the administrative aspects of things, enabling us to focus our efforts on what we are best at: technical expertise.”

Dr Maozhou Meng, BEng, MEng, PhD, FHEA

The success of this collaborative effort lays testament to what can be achieved when stakeholders come together with a common purpose and are provided with resources enabling them to effectively reach their goals. Streamlining administrative and communication processes is essential for keeping collaborations running smoothly, while investing in communication infrastructure helps foster trust and understanding between different organisations – both critical components of any successful partnership.

IFE’s support of the PLOTEC project is a great example of how, with the right tools and resources in place, universities can form successful collaborations that have tangible impacts on public health outcomes across Europe. In addition, investing in communication infrastructure and streamlining administrative processes helps foster trust and understanding between different organisations.


Identifying the Right Research Partners for Innovation and Growth

As research organizations continue to play a key role in the Horizon Europe program, partnering with the right organizations can unlock the potential for groundbreaking research, innovation and technology transfer. By collaborating with other organizations that share complementary goals and values, new solutions can be developed more effectively and efficiently.

Identifying the right research partners is critical for the success of any Horizon Europe application. It is essential to find partners who complement your expertise, share your research objectives and can contribute to the project’s success. When searching for partners, it is important to consider the following factors: 

  • Research interests and expertise; 
  • Availability and commitment; 
  • Track record of successful collaboration; 
  • Geographic location and accessibility; 


During the process of building a successful consortium,  it is important to consider partners that share common goals, commitment to ethical conduct, and value the importance of diversity and inclusion. Additionally, interested parties should assess potential partners’ experience and track record in collaborative initiatives, particularly in the areas relevant to the research project or program. It is essential to build a relationship with prospective partners to determine the division of work, also to ensure strong communication throughout the application process and project. 


The Benefits of Collaborating between Research Organizations and Other Stakeholders

Collaboration plays an important role in the innovation process. Research organizations often work with businesses, governments, and other stakeholders to develop new products and solutions. By joining forces, these diverse entities are able to share their knowledge and expertise, enabling them to reach bigger goals than could be achieved individually.

Working with other stakeholders allows them to access resources that they may not have available on their own – such as funding or specialized equipment – which can help them accelerate their project timelines. Additionally, collaborative projects provide more visibility for academic researchers as they gain experience working alongside industry experts. Furthermore, these partnerships can contribute to greater diversity within the research community as different stakeholders pool resources together in pursuit of collective goals. A comprehensive proposal should include general project objectives, the relevance of the subject matter to societal issues, and the project’s potential economic and environmental impact. Further to this, the proposal should be written in clear and concise language to enable evaluators to understand the proposal’s key research focus and its impact on the research field. 

 There are numerous benefits for research organizations that decide to collaborate with other stakeholders in pursuit of innovation. Through collaboration, research teams can access essential resources that would otherwise be unavailable; gain valuable industry experience; further diversify their field; and ultimately create groundbreaking products or solutions that would not exist without teamwork and cooperation.


After 2 Years, IFE have Long Term Cooperation Agreements with 20 Universities across Europe

At Impact Funding Europe, we have a network of 20 universities and 10+ research institutions with not only a proven track record but also share our belief in the importance of innovation and collaboration to drive positive change for the planet. We work with different departments ranging from marine pollution and data spaces to agriculture and beyond. The strong relationships we have developed with each partner mean that proposals are submitted with trust between consortium members, which is key to successful outcomes. In addition to providing quality assurance on project delivery, our extensive network ensures that more innovative projects reach fruition than ever before.

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IFE’s Universities (green) and Research organisations (blue) partners across Europe

The advantages of having a strong network also extend to increased recognition for the project, its partners and its researchers. As well as providing access to funding sources and expertise, it can be used to deliver projects in multiple countries simultaneously, allowing for greater impact and reach. Networking strategically also allows organizations to gain publicity through promotion on partner websites, newsletters and digital campaigns. This can expand the visibility of the network’s work outside the research circle, resulting in more followers, greater engagement and ultimately a higher chance of success.


Build a strong network of research institutions across Europe

 Continuing to grow your networks is essential not only for new funding opportunities, but also as an added benefit for the success of the project. It enables you to access new experts, technologies, market opportunities for early products or services, and financing sources. Building a strong network is an effective way of maximizing a consortium’s reach and achieving its goals.

Furthermore, by developing relationships with industry partners, it is possible to translate research into tangible products and services that meet the needs of society. Knowledge exchange helps researchers understand real-world problems and develop solutions that are both innovative and applicable. Working with corporate entities can provide greater resources to achieve bigger goals than would be possible from dedicated research alone. Overall, everybody stands to benefit from a stronger network – building one should always be at the top of any researcher’s list when starting out on any new venture.


Take action today!

Collaborating with research partners is essential for successful Horizon Europe applications. By identifying the right partners, building effective collaborations, and leveraging partnerships in your application, you can strengthen your proposal and increase your chances of success. To achieve this, it is important to use a strategic approach that includes leveraging the expertise and networks of other universities and following best practices for collaboration and partnership management. 

IFE can help you not only creating a tailored strategic approach that can fit your needs and goals, but also helping you actively participate in Horizon Europe projects. Contact us today so we can help you in this challenge!


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Clean Energy

In 2019 the EU completed a comprehensive update of its energy policy framework to facilitate the transition away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy and to deliver on the EU’s Paris Agreement commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement on this new energy rulebook – called the Clean energy for all Europeans package – marked a significant step towards the implementation of the energy union strategy, published in 2015.

Climate, Energy and Mobility is the focus for Cluster 5 in Horizon Europe. This clusters aims to fight climate change by better understanding its causes, evolution, risks, impacts and opportunities, and by making the energy and transport sectors more climate and environment-friendly, more efficient and competitive, smarter, safer and more resilient

More information here.

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Sophie Glaser-Deruelle

Senior Consultant

Sophie is a mission-driven, analytic, and reliable consultant. Her focus is on the development of projects, and writing public funding bids and grant proposals for R&D. She holds an MA in International Relations and European Studies and has a strong background in SME development and enabling SMEs and Start-ups to access markets and funding.

Sophie has over 10 years of experience in EU funding and project implementation including international project development, tender and funding proposal writing, policy development, implementation, and project management. At IFE, Sophie is a Senior Consultant and Project Development expert. She aids companies in defining their R&D needs and aligning them to calls, this includes ideation and development of projects, consortium building and writing proposals for EU funding.

Olaf Gerd Gemein

Olaf Gerd Gemein


Olaf is a passionate Serial Entrepreneur and Business Architect with a specific ambition: to be a change catalyst!

With over 30 years of practical experience in various markets in Europe, Asia, North and South America and Canada, he has successfully supported more than 100 projects in the ICT sector. His contributions have focused on accelerating start-up and innovation clusters, building networks, products and services from scratch, facilitating and implementing go-to-market strategies. He is frequently asked to speak at conferences and facilitate networking on smart tech topics around the world.

Peter Schottes

Peter Schottes

Eisenschmidt Consulting

Peter holds a PhD in nature science (climate impact research), worked as a project manager for software development and as a freelance consultant. He is managing director and shareholder of Eisenschmidt Consulting Crew in Kiel, Germany. He is a specialist in transformation projects and works as a sparring partner for top executives. His focus in on strategy development, digital transformation and concept development.

Peter is active as advisor for StartUps and Angel investor. At IFE he overlooks the entire process of community building, stakeholder management and is also responsible for the project kick-offs.

Alex Neu

Alex Chalkley


Alex has a BSc in Mathematics, Economics & Computing and has already built a market-leading R&D Funding Consultancy in the UK from 2009 to 2019. Alex has developed funding bids, mainly in the form of R&D Grant Applications, that have secured over €60m for clients operating at the forefront of technology innovation. Venturenomix, focuses on supporting Impact Ventures by offering specialist funding related consultancy services to ambitious people seeking funding for good projects. At IFE, Alex is Managing Director and responsible for all aspects of the business, in particular recruiting, mentoring and adding value to the EU Grant Writing Consultants working on multi-million Euro EU Grant Applications.

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Smart City

A smart city is a place where traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies for the benefit of its inhabitants and business. 

A smart city goes beyond the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for better resource use and less emissions. It means smarter urban transport networks, upgraded water supply and waste disposal facilities and more efficient ways to light and heat buildings. It also means a more interactive and responsive city administration, safer public spaces and meeting the needs of an ageing population. Last not least, it aims to make a city a healthier, more sustainable and more attractive place to be for its residents and visitors.

More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. This is expected to reach 80% by 2050. Cities and metropolitan areas are centres of economic activity, knowledge generation, innovation and new technologies. Cities influence the quality of life of citizens who live or work in them and they are major contributors to global challenges.

A mission in this area will help us meet the goals and targets set out by international policy frameworks such as the COP21 Paris Agreement, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (notably SDG11), the Urban Agenda for the EU and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda as cities play a key role in all of them.

Read more here.

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Green Deal

The European Green Deal sets out how to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. It maps a new, sustainable and inclusive growth strategy to boost the economy, improve people’s health and quality of life, care for nature, and leave no one behind.

The Green Deal spans and informs all of the Horizon Europe Pillars and Destinations. As such, there is no dedicated funding programme, apart from Horizon Europe itself. This strategy underpins Horizon Europe funding from 2021-2027. You can read more about the Pillars and funding opportunities here.

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Open Data

The success of Europe’s digital transformation will depend on establishing effective rules to ensure trustworthy technologies, to give businesses the confidence and means to digitise, and to ensure highest privacy standards for citizens. The Data Strategy and the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence are the first pillars of the new digital strategy of the Commission. They all focus on the need to put people first in developing technology, as well as on the need to defend and promote European values and rights in how we design, make and deploy technology in the economy.

The European strategy for data aims at creating a single market for data that will ensure Europe’s global competitiveness and data sovereignty. Common European data spaces will ensure that more data becomes available for use in the economy and society, while keeping companies and individuals who generate the data in control.

Cluster 4 in Horizon Europe is dedicated to Digital, Industry and Space. The overarching vision behind the proposed investments under Cluster 4 is that of Europe shaping competitive and trusted technologies for a European industry with global leadership in key areas, enabling production and consumption to respect the boundaries of our planet, and maximising the benefits for all parts of society in the variety of social, economic and territorial contexts in Europe.

This will build a competitive, digital, low-carbon and circular industry, ensure sustainable supply of raw materials, develop advanced materials and provide the basis for advances and innovation in  global challenges to society.

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The European Green Deal calls for a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transport in order for the EU to become a climate-neutral economy by 2050, while also working towards a zero-pollution ambition. To achieve this systemic change, we need to (1) make all transport modes more sustainable, (2) make sustainable alternatives widely available in a multimodal transport system and (3) put in place the right incentives to drive the transition.

Climate, Energy and Mobility is the focus for Cluster 5 in Horizon Europe. This clusters aims to fight climate change by better understanding its causes, evolution, risks, impacts and opportunities, and by making the energy and transport sectors more climate and environment-friendly, more efficient and competitive, smarter, safer and more resilient

More information here.

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The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the Green Deal. It addresses comprehensively the challenges of sustainable food systems and recognises the inextricable links between healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet. The strategy is also central to the Commission’s agenda to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All citizens and operators across value chains, in the EU and elsewhere, should benefit from a just transition, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn. A shift to a sustainable food system can bring environmental, health and social benefits, offer economic gains and ensure that the recovery from the crisis puts us onto a sustainable path. Ensuring a sustainable livelihood for primary producers, who still lag behind in terms of income, is essential for the success of the recovery and the transition.

Cluster 6 under Horizon Europe ringfences innovation grant funding for Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resouces, Agriculture & Environment. This cluster aims at reducing environmental degradation, halting and reversing the decline of biodiversity on land, inland waters and sea and better managing natural resources through transformative changes of the economy and society in both urban and rural areas. It will ensure food and nutrition security for all within planetary boundaries through knowledge, innovation and digitalisation in agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and food systems and steer and accelerate the transition to a low carbon, resource efficient circular economy and sustainable bioeconomy, including forestry.

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