Who is this page intended for?

As researcher in a new lecturer position or on an advanced fellowship you might be aware that the European Commission has a lot of opportunities for funding your research but if you're unfamiliar with Horizon Europe, you might find it difficult to know where to start.  On this page we will highlight some ideas about potential ways of engaging with the Horizon Europe programme, how they might benefit you, and how you might want to think about progressing to the next step.

Engaging with Horizon Europe

Maximise your visibility

Most EC projects are consortium-based: they have a group of research organisations working on the same clearly-defined scientific goals.  One partner acts as 'Coordinator': they are responsible for putting the consortium together, submitting the proposal, and acting as the consortium's liaison with the EC if the project is awarded.  If you can sell yourself as a good project partner, you can get potential coordinators to come to you.

  • Be active on social media - make sure you're publicising your own and your group's successes on social media platforms - show that you're the expert in your field.  Additional support for this is available from Imperial's Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre (PFDC) which runs a workshop on Social Media for Academics.
  • Keep your personal web pages up to date - coordinators will be looking for individual contacts at highly-rated institutions like Imperial, so ensure you're using your personal pages to show your achievements and publications are current and relevant.  LinkedIn is a valuable platform for maintaining a personal profile too - PFDC also runs a workshop on building and making the most of your LinkedIn profile.
  • Use the EC’s own “My Person Profile” on the Funding and Tender Opportunities Portal. The EC has a Partner Search and Personal Profile tool which allows any user to create a public profile to advertise their expertise among potential project collaborators. Thanks to this function of the Portal, researchers can create their public profiles and post expertise offers/requests under the Horizon Europe topics that they are interested in.
  • Network at conferences and other in-person events - you may find that other researchers in your field are looking for contacts too, conferences are a good opportunity to discuss your project ideas with them.  You might find contacts who are looking to recruit to their existing consortia.
  • Find successful EU Projects and use the EC Portal to contact PIs - This will give you a good idea of who's already active in your field in European research.  You can use the EC's CORDIS web pages to find successful projects. 
  • Contribute to online resources - one Imperial coordinator contacted experts he’d found on Wikipedia to become project partners.

Keep up with EC research policy

It's useful to have an understanding of what the EC's priorities are for upcoming calls for proposals.  There are various ways of staying informed about this, and we suggest the following:

  • National Contact Points (NCPs) are set up in each country and are experts in particular Horizon areas. Most have websites and newsletters you can sign up for.
  • The UK Research Office (UKRO), which is the National Contact point for ERC and MSCA calls.  UKRO is also a subscriber organisation providing updates across topics, guidance on applications, policy, and training on particular calls – Imperial subscribes to UKRO, so any Imperial researcher can sign up for UKRO’s emails, which can be tailored to the topic areas of Horizon Europe you’re interested in.  If you're new to UKRO you will need to go to their registration page to set up an account.
  • The Horizon Europe events page shows upcoming and past presentations meetings – many of these are livestreamed & recorded.
  • The EU Team Viva Engage page (previously Yammer) rounds up Horizon Europe news which  will be of particular interest to Imperial researchers.

Single-partner applications

Whilst a lot of Horizon funding is consortium-based, there are several types of project which a single partner can apply for.  Two which you might want to consider are as follows:

European Research Council (ERC) grants

  • The European Research Council funds large budget, prestigious grants to carry out cutting-edge research - they are intended to be high-risk, high-gain and to advance the state of the art in the chosen field by several steps.
  • ERC grants are described as 'bottom-up', meaning that it's the researcher applying who selects the field of work, not the funder. 
  • Multi- or inter-disciplinary proposals, proposals in new and emerging fields and unconventional, innovative approaches are encouraged.  
  • Researchers are supported across their careers by different ERC grant types, but researchers at an early stage in their career (2-7 years post-PhD) may be interested in the ERC Starting Grant - and the Consolidator Grant covers the stage beyond (7-12 years post-PhD).

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Postdoctoral Fellowships

  • You might want to think about this action as a good way of bringing high-quality postdocs into your group - they are two-year fellowships for excellent researchers who wish to undertake mobility between countries.  
  • The primary activity is training through research, but they should also include transferrable skills training and can involve secondments to other organisations.
  • Like the ERC grants, these are bottom-up, so the applicants choose the topic.  The application is short and simple, and applying is a good way of becoming familiar with the EC Portal, which is used to submit all Horizon applications.
  • MSCA fellowships are well known and prestigious, so they can help raise the profile of you and your group.  Successful fellows are high-quality researchers and can be useful contacts as their own careers develop after the fellowship - some Imperial PIs are now in EC projects with their fellows who have moved to new permanent positions elsewhere.

Small collaborative projects

Some collaborative grants can involve fewer partners than the larger Horizon calls in specific thematic areas.  The two schemes below are also 'bottom-up' - applications can be submitted in any relevant field of research: 

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Doctoral Networks

  • MSCA Doctoral Networks actions recruit researchers who don't yet have a PhD to train at one of the partner organisations.  As with the fellowships, the action is about training through research, but towards a PhD in this case.  
  • Consortia applying to this action can be relatively small compared to other collaborative EC grants - the EC themselves recommend between six and ten partners per project.
  • These projects themselves can be a good networking opportunity - you can get to know partners well as these projects usually involve of joint activities among the partners to bring all the students and PIs together (e.g. summer schools, or a final conference).

European Innovation Council (EIC)

  • These might be of interest to researchers who are in areas that are closer to market, as they are intended to identify, develop and scale up technologies and innovations.
  • The two actions that universities can apply to are the EIC Pathfinder (up to 4M Euros) - research with the potential to lead to technological breakthroughs, and EIC Transition (up to 2.5M Euros) - following on from the Pathfinder grants and turning research results into innovation opportunities.
  • Small consortia are expected for this action, budgets are relatively small so they are about having the correct partners for the task.


Next steps - how to participate

All collaborative projects have several roles with varying levels of responsibility:


  • Responsible for the submission of the application before the deadline
  • If successful, acts as the liaison between the consortium and the EC Project Officer
  • Is the overall scientific leader of the project, Coordinator’s organisation usually leads communication & dissemination activities
  • Coordination is a lot of work! A Coordinator needs a good level of experience of how projects function, plus project management skills.

Work Package Leader

  • All projects broken down into ‘Work Packages’ (‘WPs’) – think of these as sub-projects which make up the whole EC project
  • WP Leader keeps an overview of their Work Package, ensures partners involved submit their deliverables on time
  • Needs to communicate well with the Coordinator for the project to function well
    Could be a path to coordinating your own project


  • Responsible only for their own tasks, which are defined in the application/Grant Agreement
  • Each partner is only responsible for fulfilling their own deliverables on time, or clearly communicating any delays or issues to the WP Leader
  • Least ‘admin’ – but also usually the least visibility