Research & Innovation - Participant Portal H2020 Online Manual

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Dissemination & Exploitation of results

Under Horizon 2020, it's more important than ever to disseminate and exploit the results of your research and innovation project.

This applies to every stage of the programming cycle. It means:

  • maximising the take-up of the new knowledge, both for commercial purposes and for policy making
  • boosting research & innovation among participants in our programme and others who could benefit from the research conducted
  • being accountable for expenditure and making sure that EU citizens benefit.

Experience shows it's not always easy to meet these goals. As an applicant, it's useful to keep the following in mind.

There's a close link between dissemination and exploitation. Dissemination (sharing research results with potential users - peers in the research field, industry, other commercial players and policymakers) - feeds into exploitation (using results for commercial purposes or in public policymaking).

There's often some overlap between dissemination, exploitation and communication, especially for close-to-market projects.

Guidelines for your dissemination and exploitation activities

We suggest you take a step-by-step approach to dissemination and exploitation when developing your proposals for an application. The guidelines below should help. They are meant for Leadership in enabling & industrial technologies and Societal challenges. They are not targeted at Excellent science, although you might consider some of them there, too. These guidelines are not compulsory.

  1. Link your proposal to the policy context of the call for proposals.
    Calls usually specify the EU policy aims needing further research. How will your proposal help meet these aims? Give a detailed explanation.

  2. Involve potential end-users and stakeholders in your proposal.
    If they're committed from early on, they may help guide your work towards applications. End-users could come from the regional, national and international networks of the partners in your consortium, or from the value chains they operate in. They could be involved as partners in the project, or, throughout its duration, as members of an advisory board or user group tasked with testing the results and providing feedback.

  3. Say how you expect the results of your project to be applied and give the main advantages of the new solution(s) you expect to emerge.
    The results could be:
    • direct - like a manual, test, model, new therapy, better product or process, or improved understanding of mechanisms
    • indirect - like reduced material or energy usage, improved safety, or better-trained staff.
    Explain how you expect results like these to be applied. This could also depend on progress elsewhere in an innovation chain, in related projects or in adjacent fields - so outline these dependencies and any progress to be made in these areas.

  4. Show you understand the barriers to any application of your results.
    How will you tackle them? Possible obstacles include:
    • inadequate financing
    • skills shortages
    • regulation that hinders innovation
    • intellectual property right issues
    • traditional value chains that are less keen to innovate
    • incompatibility between parts of systems (lack of standards)
    • mismatch between market needs and the solution.
    Your proposal should show you understand these impediments and how to tackle them. Involving disciplines such as economics, business, marketing and public administration could help overcome barriers.

  5. Think ahead. Once your research and innovation is complete, will you need to take further steps to apply it in actual practice?
    Examples of further steps: standards to be agreed on, financing the testing, scaling up or production, promoting acceptance by consumers or other partners in a value chain. Policymakers may also establish follow-up steps to work the results into policies.
    You could also consider support schemes for follow-up steps, e.g. national programmes, InnovFin, EFSI, Regional Funds, Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), European IPR Helpdesk, European exploitation support schemes (more on ESIC in the Work Programme).

  6. Consider how you manage your data. Think of use, ownership and access rights. The Commission is currently running a flexible pilot study on open access to research data. As set out in the Work Programme, your project will either
    • participate in this pilot study automatically, though an opt-out is possible, or
    • automatically not participate in the study, with the option of an opt-in.
    Open access means users can access research results free of charge, so the results can reach a much wider audience. However, taking part in the pilot project doesn't mean making all datasets openly available. Some data may have commercial value, or there may be other reasons for not opening it up (data protection, national security, etc.).
    As an applicant, think about how your data will be managed. Make sure curation abides by best practices, both during and after the project. Projects participating in the pilot project must establish a data management plan outlining how data is generated, curated and made accessible, within 6 months of starting work.
    See the open access section of the Online Manual for details.

  7. Prepare your exploitation and dissemination plan carefully.
    This must be a distinct part of your proposal (unless the call states otherwise). There is no 'one-size-fits-all' template. However, the plan should be as precise as possible. Initially, this may apply only to the first steps and the final goal. During the project, you can update the plan and make it more detailed.
    • In what area do you expect to make an impact?
    • What needs might the results of your project meet?
    • What outputs will be created?
    • Where will the outputs be made available during and after the project?
    • Who are the potential users of your results?
    • How will you contact them?
    Dissemination shouldn't be an after-thought. It should be an ongoing dialogue with potential users during your project. They may be found among fellow researchers in your field, companies, investors, standardisation bodies, regulatory bodies, patient organisations, sectoral organisations, NGOs, the education sector, the public sector, etc.
    The Commission will publish your dissemination plan on CORDIS. For further guidance, see the fact sheet published by the EU intellectual property rights (IPR) Helpdesk.

For more details of reporting on dissemination & exploitation of results, see the Periodic reporting section.

Reference documents