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Research & Innovation - Funding & Tenders Portal H2020 Online Manual

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Dissemination & Exploitation of results

Under Horizon 2020, beneficiaries should engage in dissemination and exploitation activities. As Horizon 2020 is financed by EU citizens, it should benefit to the largest number and the fruits of the research reach society as a whole.

Dissemination means sharing research results with potential users - peers in the research field, industry, other commercial players and policymakers). By sharing your research results with the rest of the scientific community, you are contributing to the progress of science in general.

Whereas exploitation is the use of results for commercial purposes or in public policymaking.

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

There's often some overlap between dissemination, exploitation and communication, especially for close-to-market projects. These guidelines are meant to help you. In addition the EU also provides a wide range of services to assist you in your dissemination and exploitation activities.

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 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. 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 be solved/met thanks to the results of your project?
    • 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Implement open access and consider how you manage your data
    Think of use, ownership and access rights.
    • All projects receiving Horizon 2020 funding are required to make sure that any peer-reviewed journal article they publish is openly accessible, free of charge (article 29.2. Model Grant Agreement). Consider how you will implement this obligation, which is described in more detail in the Open access section, including detailed guidance.
    • As for open access to research data the Commission is currently running a flexible pilot on open access to research data, which has recently been extended to cover all thematic areas of Horizon 2020, thus realising the Commission's ambition of "open research data per default", but allowing for opt-outs for some datasets, for instance in cases of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, personal data or national security issues. The pilot applies to research data underlying publications but beneficiaries can also voluntarily make other datasets open. Projects that do not opt-out must develop a data management plan outlining how data is generated, curated and made accessible, within 6 months of starting work. Further guidance is available in the data management section.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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), Horizon Results Plaftorm, or check if there are any Boosters' services available. If your results have already demonstrated an impact on society, you could also consider applying to the Horizon Impact Awards.

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

Reference documents