Experts will evaluate project proposals on the basis of three criteria: “excellence”, “impact” and “quality and efficiency of the implementation”.  Each criterion is scored on a scale of 1 to 5. You must score at least 3 in each criterion and have a total sum of at least 10 for all criteria together to be eligible for funding. The importance (weighting) of these criteria may vary from one programme to another.




Clarity and pertinence of the objectives

Expected impacts as described in the topic

Coherence and effectiveness of the work plan

Credibility of the approach

Enhancing innovation capacity

Appropriate allocation of tasks and resources

Soundness of the concept

Strengthen the competitiveness and growth of companies

Complementarity of participants

Ambition, innovation potential (beyond state of the art)

Dissemination of project results

Appropriate management structures and procedures

Min 3 out of 5

Min 3 out of 5

Min 3 out of 5

Overall: Min 10 out of 15


Evaluation procedure

After having submitted your proposal, your part of the proposal work is done. The European Commission, or REA, the Research Executive Agency, will now take over and will evaluate your proposal. Expect to hear back from them about five months after the call deadline. If your proposal is selected, another three months may pass until the grant agreement (GA) is signed and your project can start.

Your proposal will be evaluated by independent experts selected from a database. At least three experts will individually read and score your proposal [1]. The experts will then meet in a consensus group and elaborate a consensus report where they agree on a common position, comments and scores. A Commission moderator will join these meetings to ensure impartiality.

The Commission will put together a final ranking list. The budget available for the call will be distributed according to this list. A priority order for proposals with the same score may be established according to the procedure given in the Work Programme. The Evaluation Summary Report (ESR) gives important feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal.

Evaluation "as is"

It is important to know that evaluation is done “as is”: Proposals must be mature and complete, as there will be no possibility for significant changes to the content, budget, or consortium composition once your proposal is selected for funding. This was not the case previously, when “negotiations” helped improve or adapt the project proposal even after the submission date. These new rules should help shorten the period between the call deadline and the launch of the project (time-to-grant), from about 12 to 8 months. 

What evaluators expect

Due to the competitiveness of the Horizon 2020 programme, evaluations follow a certain code and priorities that have emerged over the years. There is certainly more than one good way of drafting a proposal. However, the following good practice has emerged. What evaluators expect:

  • Concrete and credible projects: the idea has to be “beyond state of the art”, but also achievable with concrete milestones, translating “outcome” (of the project) into “impact” (on a societal level);
  • The clearer, the better: a clear description of what will be done, by whom, when, and how;
  • Mind the form: deliver a high-quality, proof-read proposal using simple, consistent language;
  • Resubmit your proposals: It is possible, and sometimes even expected, to resubmit proposals that were interesting and of good quality but that could not be funded in a previous call for propoals, either because some aspects of the proposals needed to be improved or because, in spite of their high quality, there was not enough budget to fund all excellent projects.

Common mistakes

Some common mistakes that prejudice a proposal's chances include the following: 

  • Some parts are neglected (such as impact, implementation, risk assessment, etc), despite good scientific objectives and explanations;
  • Poor or unclear match between the project and the call: researchers push their own “research agenda”;
  • Lack of cooperation and trust is evident from the proposal;
  • Lack of editing and proof-reading;
  • Unclear relationships between work packages;
  • Unclear budget: no budget included, the budget exceeds limits, or the budget is not adequate for foreseen partners.


Are you getting ready? This is an exerpt from the guide "Get ready for H2020". Download the whole document here.