Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Implementation research for maternal and child health

Topic identifier: SC1-BHC-19-2019
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
26 July 2018
2nd stage Deadline:
02 October 2018 17:00:00
16 April 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Each year, an estimated 213[1] million women become pregnant and 140 million newborn babies are delivered. However, many of the women and infants receive no appropriate care or care that is below evidence-based standards; others suffer from over-medicalisation. Access to quality care, during and after pregnancy, is essential to ensure good maternal health and the favourable early development of the child.

The gap between countries with the lowest and highest maternal mortality rates has doubled between 1990 and 2013 and huge differences exist within countries in Europe and globally. The burden of maternal mortality in both contexts falls disproportionately on the most vulnerable groups of women and girls: Every day approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth; 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries[2]

Although there is a consolidated evidence base of what works in improving maternal and newborn health, the "knowledge-do" gap has not been bridged and evidence based guidelines are insufficiently implemented or integrated in routine training and service provision. Therefore, more and better targeted implementation research is needed.


Proposals should focus on implementation research[3] for improving maternal and child health with a focus on the first '1000 days' from pregnancy until two years of age.[4] This research can take place in either high income countries or low and middle income countries, or in a combination thereof.

The implementation research in the first 1000 days may cover:

  • new or improved health service delivery interventions that strengthen maternal and child health; and/or
  • the scaling up and/or adapting of existing evidence-based interventions to new contexts.

Neither pre-clinical research nor clinical trials in the context of product development are within the scope of this call.

The research should take into account the specificities of different contexts and situations. The research should be integrated from different perspectives, e.g. recognising the interdependent relationship between mother and child; addressing prevention, health promotion and treatment; allowing for the specific needs of vulnerable groups (e.g. preterm infants, adolescents, migrants); addressing different concurrent pathologies; avoiding the creation of parallel or vertical programmes, etc;. Research may cover physical and/or mental health, as well as communicable and non-communicable diseases. The integration of social sciences including gender analysis and the use of mixed methods research[5] is strongly encouraged. In addition, particular attention should be given to equity issues.

The interventions should build on but may go beyond existing state-of-the art knowledge on biological, psychological and social determinants of maternal and child health. Research is expected to be carried out in continuous partnership, in particular with the end-users, i.e. the concerned women, the fathers, and their community, in addition to policy makers, politicians, and the media, to ensure that evidence can be translated into policy and practice.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting an EU contribution between EUR 2 to 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:
  • Research-supported solutions to maternal and child health challenges.
  • Providing evidence of successful and/or innovative approaches for bridging the ''knowledge-do'' gap in improving maternal and child health.
  • Better understanding of scaling-up processes with regard to different contexts and resource requirements.
  • Contribution to the achievement of SDGs 2 on improved nutrition (target 2), Goal 3 on health (targets 1 and 2 on maternal and child health) and Goal 5 on gender equality (targets 1 and 6) and Goal 10 (on reducing inequality within and between countries).

Applicants may be interested in a separate but connected call topic on "Food systems Africa" under Societal Challenge 2.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

International cooperation
Socio-economic science and humanities


[2]WHO, Maternal mortality fact sheet (n. 348), Nov 2015 - Lancet Series on Maternal Health (2016).

[3]'Implementation Research is the scientific study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of clinical research findings and other evidence-based practices into routine practice, and hence to improve the quality (effectiveness, reliability, safety, appropriateness, equity, efficiency) of health care. It includes the study of influences on healthcare professional and organisational behaviour

[4]Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition (2013).

[5]broadly defined as research in which the investigator collects and analyzes data, integrates the findings, and draws inferences using both qualitative and quantitative approaches or methods in a single study or a program of inquiry

Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.

2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.

Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.

3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

The thresholds for each criterion for the second stage of the two-stage calls for these topics will be 4 (Excellence), 4 (Impact) and 3 (Implementation). The cumulative threshold will be 12.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (two-stage call):

For stage 1: maximum 3 months from the deadline for submission.
For stage 2: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Research and Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

Essential information for clinical studies

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply.

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.

8. Additional documents:

Introduction WP 2018-20
Health, demographic change and well-being WP 2018-20
General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

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