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Why should universities participate in Horizon Europe?

IFE was asked to host an online session for the Business Fellow Network (BFN) which is organised by our customer Connected Places Catapult (CPC) to better understand the benefits and barriers of Horizon Europe to research institutions. The BFN has 13+ member universities from across the UK representing some of the most advanced research organisations. This blog will give you some insights into their thinking on collaborative European Grant Funding, the benefits, and barriers to university participation.

Overheads Rate

There is a 25% overhead rate for Horizon Europe funded projects – so universities receive 100% funding for their costs + an additional 25% overhead = 125% of costs covered. This can represent a challenge to universities whose overheads can be higher than this overall. It is likely that permission from the finance department or lead professor needs to be sought in order to agree to this 25% figure. This barrier can certainly be overcome – after-all, it is set internally, but some conversations will need to take place.


The audience consisted of universities from the UK so naturally Brexit was a topic of conversation. There was concern from the UK universities that preference would be given to non-UK participants (especially when a UK entity was the project coordinator). This has not been born our in the experiences of the members of the BFN though, Leeds University has had its most successful year in accessing EU Grant Funding in 2021 for example.

Geographical Partners

There was general agreement that working with organisations from Eastern Europe was being actively encouraged by the EU Commission to improve the chance of successful applications. We at IFE would echo this since the wider participation of Eastern European states has been highlighted as a key goal for the EU Commission under the Horizon Europe programme.

Interestingly, the UK universities are being encouraged also to seek funding opportunities with the US and Canada. This was seen as a trend and while it does not mean EU Grant Funding is being phased out, it is worth noting here that there is a change of empathises from the UK in this regard.

Success Rates

It was acknowledged that the average success rates under Horizon Europe are low – 17% was a figure shared with the group. While this is low, it should be noted that Innovate UK success rates are below 10% and SMEs face success rates at more like 3% – 7%. Of course success rates improve with practice, great consortiums and working with experienced EU Grant Writers.

In conclusion then, there was general agreement that EU Grant Funding, whilst it has its barriers, is a worthwhile pursuit for UK universities. It was evident that the members of the BFN are actively engaged in live EU projects and developing new applications for funding. From the perspective of IFE, based in Germany, we welcome collaboration with UK partners and hope to work with many BFN members in the coming years.


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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 an entrepreneur since more than 35 years.


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.

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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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