Success Rates in Horizon 2020

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Seán McCarthy


Horizon 2020 is the name of the European Union’s research and innovation programme. In the first three years of the programme (2014-2016) over 100,000 proposals were received. 10,456 proposals were selected for funding. This success rate (11%) sounds very low and can discourage researchers from applying to the programme. This article argues that this success rate is not a reliable indicator for researchers. This article will show that a more realistic success rate is 29%. In one sub-programme (Energy) a success rate of 47% was measured. The message from this paper is that the chances of success in Horizon 2020 depends on two main criteria: a) having an excellent scientific idea; and b) having a thorough understanding of the evaluation process.

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