Top 10 lessons to learn before you start the Horizon 2020 Grant Agreement process

Congratulations! Your Horizon 2020 project received very high scores and the European Commission has invited you to prepare the Grant Agreement (GA). At this very moment, your interaction with the EC begins. This will be a long relationship, so enter into it wisely. The preparation of the Grant Agreement can be very elaborate and in this article, we will provide the top 10 lessons to learn before you start the Grant Agreement process, based on our best practices in GA preparations.

  1. Communication: In the Grant Agreement preparation there will be a number of processes running in parallel. Communication is key to have the entire consortium in line and working towards the deadlines. Communicate what you expect from the consortium, but be efficient. Avoid spamming the entire consortium when there is only one partner you would like to reach.
  2. Relationship with EC: The relationship with the EC starts with the GA preparation. We recommend to build a good work relationship and go to the Coordinator Day meetings and meet your EU project officer.
  3. Partners receding from the described work: When the proposal is being written, often the work packages are written under time constraints and with an underestimation of the work necessary once a project is funded. This may lead to partners that will lower the expectation of their work during this period. Make sure the work will be performed as previously agreed upon, so it will not jeopardise your work packages.
  4. Partners requesting additional money: In a project funded by the EC, you may only declare your actual costs. It is impossible to make a profit from an EC grant. Especially industrial partners may want to ask you for additional money separately from the grant. It is okay to make arrangements with companies apart from the GA, but keep in mind what the accepted conditions were when it was still in writing phase.
  5. Problems in establishing the Consortium Agreement: The CA is the agreement between the consortium members, the EC is left out of these discussions. However, the CA has to be signed and preferably in parallel with the GA. This is to avoid any discussion after the GA is already signed, jeopardising the signed agreement with the EC. I refer back to lesson #1, communication!
  6. IPR issues: IPR issues may be very straightforward for some consortia, but for some, usually when industrial partners are involved with background IP, this can be a big hick-up. Start with creating a term sheet and let legals put this into the right wording. Do not try to be the expert here! The DESCA will provide you with a nice template that is updated regularly (October 2017).
  7. Validation by the EC: During the GA preparation process some partners need to be validated. This is a long process, especially the LEAR appointment. Therefore, we recommend that partners that require a validation start immediately after the proposal writing.
  8. Adhere to the EC rules: The EC has strict guidelines in preparing the GA text and in delivering documents for the appointment of LEARs. Make sure to follow these guidelines correctly to not delay the process.
  9. Financial viability: The EC will check for the financial viability of your company in some cases. Especially when the coordinator is an SME, your finances will be checked to see if it is viable enough for the EC to transfer the amount of money for the grant to your account.
  10. Preparing the Grant Agreement text: Make sure to include all relevant data in the GA text. Do not forget to address questions posed in the Evaluation Summary Report and Ethics/Safety Report.

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Does this sound like a lot of work? ttopstart can coordinate and draft your grant agreement, respecting your wishes regarding contractual obligations and Intellectual property.