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.
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.
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.
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.