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Here are the most important points from Tuesday's funding applications event

Were you also one of the online participants who were left disappointed when the online connection crashed? Don't despair – here you can find the key conclusions from Tuesday's event on funding applications to the EU.

2021.12.02 | Line Rønn

How do you get a share of all the money for health research contained in the EU's key funding programme for research and innovation? Professor Martin Tolstrup from the Department of Clinical Medicine passed on his experience in relation to applying for funding from the EU. Photo: Line Rønn

On the last day of November, employees at Health could take part in an inspirational event full of good advice about how to apply for funding from the EU’s framework programme for research and innovation: Horizon Europe.

Unfortunately, the streaming of the event was affected by a technical failure, so only those present at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in the University Park had the opportunity to hear the presentations.

To make up for this, here you can read a summary of the most important points from the day – and please remember that you still have the opportunity to participate in three more inspirational events this year, which all aim to help both new and experienced researchers to apply for funding from the EU and the Innovation Fund Denmark. Everyone is welcome – also if you are just curious about what applying involves.


Applying to the Innovation Fund Denmark (Grand Solutions) - 2 December 15:00 - 16:00 
Applying to ERC (Starting Grants and Consolidator Grants) - 7 December 15:00 - 16:00 
Become a supervisor on Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships - 8 December 15:00 - 16:00 


Some good advice

Tuesday's information meeting was targeted at researchers who wish to participate in collaborative projects with partners from all over Europe.

The meeting focused on the challenges faced by applicants when it comes to taking part in consortium applications to the various clusters under the EU’s framework programme for research and innovation Horizon Europe, which has a staggering budget of EUR 95.5 billion until 2027.

Vice-Dean Hans Erik Bøtker first welcomed Associate Professor Ditte Demontis from the Department of Biomedicine. She conducts research into psychiatric genetics and is leading the genetics section of the major international research project TIMESPAN to promote understanding of the treatment of people with ADHD and comorbid cardiovascular disease. For the section of the project where she functions as a work package leader, she received an EU grant of DKK 2.2 million in 2021. In addition, she has joined two other EU consortia and is involved in another major EU application, which is still being processed.

The next presentation was by Professor Martin Tolstrup from the Department of Clinical Medicine. He is researching vaccines and antibody therapy and has been involved in three EU applications, one of which has received funding - a project to develop an RNA vaccine against HIV-1. He is the work package leader on the part of the project that profiles the immune response to samples from vaccinated people.

Both researchers emphasised that they were very happy to have a professional company involved from the beginning of the application process. The companies are specialists in large EU projects and in writing applications. They assist the writing process and are responsible for the project management, for example by ensuring that collaborative partners meet deadlines. The companies are often responsible for project management throughout the research project – in return for a certain percentage of the grant. Often the agreement is structured so that if the application does not receive funding, neither will the company receive payment. 


Here is a brief summary of the 13 best points of advice from the two researchers for anyone planning to apply for funding from EU clusters:

  1. Seriously consider which work packages you can see yourself in.
  2. Read the foundation's grant call carefully. The text can be read in very different ways, depending on the field of research you come from. What does the foundation actually mean with e.g. translational research? Discuss the text with others – what requirements must your application meet?
  3. Spend time establishing the right team. Be aware that the EU often expects a high degree of interdisciplinarity. It is important that you collaborate with groups from all over Europe and not just the countries you normally collaborate with.
  4. It is crucial that the members of the various groups reflect diversity (note that "gender" is included as one of the award criteria, as the applicant must, among other things, state "appropiate consideration of the gender dimension in research and innovation content". When it comes to the consortium, "gender balance" is included in one of the ranking criteria).
  5. Involve researchers at early career level – the EU likes to see younger researchers being trained via the projects.
  6. Remember that during the process it is a question of who can best help to address the scientific question. Once you have defined your core idea, look for the right collaborative partners or companies who can develop what you still lack. There can easily be 15 partners in a consortium located in almost as many different countries.
  7. But find the right balance – don't invite too many people at the start, because it is difficult to withdraw an invitation later if your budget will not stretch to everyone anyway.
  8. For example, ask yourself: "Who has the biggest genetic cohorts in Europe that we want to work with?" Find the right collaborative partners by reading scientific articles, through networks and via previous collaborations.
  9. When you come to write the application, it is a good idea to brainstorm in the consortium – but make sure that the group is not too large as otherwise things will become fragmented. Make sure you bring together a maximum of ten key people in the idea development phase.
  10. The EU focuses on how your project can benefit patients. Find the right balance between explaining the research details and showing the value that your research can deliver to society.
  11. The EU likes to see that you collaborate with patient organisations. This is becoming increasingly important in relation to focusing on the patient. You can include NGOs as partners – this sends a signal that you are focused on the project benefiting society and the patients.
  12. If your network is not so big, see if you can jump onboard a train that is already running by becoming part of other people's projects.
  13. You must make yourself visible. Get involved in organisations in your field, take part in meetings and events, get to know people. Creating a network requires work, but it pays off in the end. 


The research support office is more than happy to help

Finally, Birgit Christensen held the research support office’s presentation.

Birgit Christensen, like the researchers, emphasized the value of networks, just as she stated that the topic texts must be read very thoroughly - something the Research Support Unit is happy to help with.

She drew attention to the fact that it is mandatory to get the Research Support Unit's approval of all EU budgets.

The two researchers have used external partners to handle the project management, but Birgit Christensen reminded that AU / AUH researchers can also get help from the Research Support Unit in the writing phase, just as you can hire an employee from the Research Support Unit to handle the administrative when a large EU project has received funding.

The research support unit holds regular courses and workshops – see them here.



You can still find inspiration for funding applications

Mark the date in your calendar, because there are still three inspirational events to come in 2021.
Read about them here:



Event: Applying to the Innovation Fund Denmark (Grand Solutions)

2. december, kl. 15-16 



Event: Applying to ERC (Starting Grants and Consolidator Grants)

7. december, kl. 15-16 


Event: Become a supervisor on Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships

8. december, kl. 15-16 





Read more about the inspirational events here: Health News for Staff and Faculty (au.dk)

Research, Health and disease, Academic staff, Health, Health, Technical / administrative staff, Department of Biomedicine, Department of Public Health, Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Dentistry