Building a consortium
To be eligible for Horizon Europe funding, you must apply as part of a consortium. Check the ‘Who can apply’ section in stage 1 for details on eligibility. The size of your consortium will depend on the nature of your proposal, the size of the budget indicated in the call topic and the scope of the call topic as described in the work programme. An approximate guide would be to have 10 partners for a €3 million project.
The best time to start looking for partners is before the call text is published, allowing you to bring together the best people before they are involved in other consortia.
The consortium is led by a coordinator, and includes at least two other partner organisations. The coordinator is responsible for developing the consortium and managing the proposal submission process. If the project proposal is successful, it is also the coordinator who will manage the project, submit reports and deliverables, and act as contact with EU staff. It is worth keeping in mind that Enterprise Ireland offers Coordinator Support Grants for services that help you write your proposal as a coordinator.
A proposal will define a number of work packages, each of which will comprise multiple tasks. The work package leader is responsible for the delivery of the work package overall, while task leaders drive the activities of individual tasks. Each partner can take on multiple leader roles.
It is also important to note the different categories of project partners defined within grant agreements, as these govern how/whether funding is disbursed. The main project partners will fall under the category of beneficiaries or affiliated entities, while others can participate as associated partners, subcontractors, or third parties giving in-kind contributions. In the case of associated partners and third parties giving in-kind contributions, they bear their own costs and do not receive EU funding. Subcontracting may only be used to carry out a limited part of the overall work and must be done by third parties. Read more on the different categories of partner here.
Finding consortium partners
If you do not yet have experience of working in a consortium or leading a proposal, a good way to start can be to join first as a project partner. Enterprise Ireland offers travel grants that help you travel to Europe to meet your partners and start networking for your next Horizon Europe project. Once you have gained some experience, you can consider taking the role of task leader or work package leader in later proposals and working your way up to coordinator.
Tips for finding consortium partners include:
- Use your existing network: Potential partners could include colleagues from previous institutions where you have worked, visiting academics, policy/industry contacts, partners from previous grants, or colleagues you met at conferences or international networks.
- Partner Search in the EU Funding and Tenders Portal: the portal offers a ‘partner search’ function where you can see what organisations are interested in each topic.
- CORDIS database: the Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) is the European Commission's primary source of results from the projects funded by the EU's framework programmes for research and innovation. Searching this database to see key players in the field can also yield good results as these researchers may be preparing new proposals and looking for partners.
- Information days and brokerage events hosted by the European Commission: organised at regular intervals, these give you the opportunity to meet one-on-one with potential partners. Upcoming events are listed here.
- Enterprise Europe Network: if you are looking for companies as partners, the Enterprise Europe Network provides lists of technology and academic partners.
- Participating as an evaluator (expert) for EU programmes or in working groups related to EU policy in your specific field is an invaluable way of networking. It is an opportunity to meet researchers from all over Europe within your area of expertise and expand your network in a European context, working with others who may become partners in future applications.
What should the ideal consortium look like?
The ideal consortium brings together credible partners with complementary skills and the right expertise and experience to execute the tasks proposed. It should be an appropriate size for the project, with academic and non-academic partners, including patient organisations, civic society and industry partners. Horizon Europe Health calls are collaborative and multi- or interdisciplinary, so the consortium should include partners from different countries and disciplines, while being mindful of equality, diversity and inclusion (gender balance among research teams is a ranking criterion for proposals with the same score). It’s also important to identify gaps in the expertise of the consortium and bring in the expertise and/or technology that is missing. Each partner should have a unique role in a proposal.
Read our eight tips for consortium building in Horizon Europe.
What your NCP can do for you
Your NCP can support you at the consortium-building stage by helping you to search for partners through the European NCP network, informing you about upcoming partnering/brokerage events, and answering any other questions you might have on consortium composition or identifying suitable partners.
Your NCP can also advise you on coordination supports or travel grants available for applicants through Enterprise Ireland.
Want to know more? Contact your HRB Health NCP.