Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) H2020 online manual
This page is updated with the answers to the most frequent questions that were submitted to the IT Helpdesk .You can find additional guidance in H2020 Online Manual that gives you all the steps for applying for funding as well as for the electronic management of grants. To better understand the roles and access rights of the Participant Portal, see the related manual section.
If you want to have more detailed information about the tools of the proposal submission, beneficiary registration and grant management and see their screens, please click on the icon in the H2020 Online Manual. Besides you can find the same information in the following pdf manuals of the tools:
- User manuals for the PP services:
What services and tools are behind the different menu items on the Participant Portal?
- FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES : Find Calls of Horizon 2020 and other EU funding programmes; search for call topics by keywords or free text search; access the service for submitting proposals
- HOW TO PARTICIPATE : Access all H2020 and FP7 reference and guidance documents; access the H2020 online manual, access the beneficiary register, check your financial viability, find specific guidance for SMEs. For all the following services you need an ECAS account:
- EXPERTS : Register as a potential expert for assisting the Commission in evaluating proposals or monitoring projects; update your existing expert profile; manage your expert contracts; get practical information on public transport and hotels in Brussels.
- SUPPORT : Submit questions to helpdesks, access glossary and FAQ, Find local help in your country (NCPs, EEN); View Terms and Conditions of use of the portal.
- MY AREA : (Only visible for registered users after login): access and manage your organisation, profile, proposals, projects; expert profile and assignments
Are there any slide shows presenting the Participant Portal?
You can download the following presentations on the Participant Portal:
- Introduction to the Services of the Participant Portal
- Changes of the Identity and Access Management of the Participant Portal
- User registration: How to create an ECAS account (PDF version )
- Electronic-only submission of Forms C
- Introduction to the submission of proposals
- How to prepare the explanation of the use of resources in the FP7 reporting tools? (PDF version )
- General presentation of the Experts services
You can also watch the following videos
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- eSignature of grant documents
- New tasks of the LEAR.
How do I register and then log into the Participant Portal? What is an ECAS account?
Access to the portal is based on an ECAS account. ECAS stands for the European Commission's Authentication Service. It provides single sign-on across all personalised services of the Participant Portal (and other Commission information systems). You can find more information in the ECAS FAQ page.
The H2020 Online Manual gives introductory information about creating an ECAS account.
Although I am certain that I am using the correct username/password combination, the system refuses to give me access. What shall I do?
Have you selected the correct domain on the ECAS login page? Users outside of the Commission should choose the "External" domain. You can change your domain on the login page (look for the "use a different domain" link below the login box) or go to this ECAS domain selection page and retry your login. Note that cookies must be enabled on your web browser.
After ECAS registration, I did not receive any email. What shall I do?
- Contact your IT department to check if the email from the Authentication Service with subject: "Your password / Votre mot de passe" is not "queuing" in the mail server.
- The problem could occur if the email is treated as a spam. Ask your IT administrator to remove firstname.lastname@example.org or the domain ec.europa.eu from the spam filter.
- If it does not solve the problem, then please follow the instructions as indicated here in order to have the ECAS account verified by the responsible support team.
I tried to change my password by using the link in ECAS "Change password" or request my forgotten password by using the link in ECAS "Forgotten your password". After I filled in the username or my email address as requested, I never received the email to initialise my password.
- This problem could be caused by using an incorrect domain in the ECAS service when trying to obtain a new password. Your domain should be "External".
- Contact your IT department to check if the email from the Authentication Service <ECAS-ADMIN@EC.EUROPA.EU>, subject: "ECAS Password Initialisation" is not "queuing" in the mail server.
- The problem could occur if the email is treated as a spam. Ask your IT administrator to remove email@example.com or the domain ec.europa.eu from the spam filter.
- If it does not solve the problem, then please follow the instructions as indicated here in order to have the ECAS account verified by the responsible support team.
Why can I not log-out directly from the Participant Portal?
When a participant is logged into the Portal, he/she is using the single sign-on technology provided by ECAS (see Q: What is ECAS). To log out of the system: 1. Select "logout" and 2. close all your browser windows.
How can I change my email address in ECAS?
If you are logged in, simply go to your user detail page then select Modify my personal data and enter a new valid email address in the e-Mail field.
This is not possible for users having a LEAR role. LEARs can only change it in the Beneficiary Register on the Participant Portal, under "My Organisations" after ECAS login. There they inform the Validation Services via the messaging option. A new e-mail address triggers for a LEAR a new ECAS account meaning you will receive a new PIN code.
About the role management in general
How is access to the personalised information managed in the Participant Portal (PP)?
The role management of the Participant Portal assures that its personalised services after log-in correspond to each user's, specific roles on organisations, proposals, projects or expert assignments. The "identity and access management" module of the Participant Portal links the ECAS account of each user to a specified set of roles and access rights, allowing the presentation of a personalised and dynamically updated Web space.
Each user involved in interactions with the Commission - e.g. registering an organisation for a PIC number, negotiating a grant agreement, preparing a report - has a personalised page, where access to the different tools and services depends on the person's role in the proposal and/or project and/or organisation.
I have an ECAS account but how can I acquire roles and access rights for proposals, projects or organisations?
The basic principle is that the user having created an asset manages access to this asset for other users. In other words, there is no centrally controlled role and access management. The Commission intervenes only for a few cases (LEAR, Primary Coordinator Contact).
- For proposals: The user who created the proposal has a "Primary coordinator contact" role by default and can assign (and revoke) access rights for others. For getting access to an existing proposal under preparation you must contact (offline) the user having created it.
- For projects: When a successful proposal becomes a project, users "herit" their existing access rights from the proposal. These "Coordinator Contacts" and "Participant Contacts" can assign (and revoke) roles and access to other users. Only for assigning and revoking the "Primary Coordinator Contact" the Commission/Agency has to intervene.
- For organisation data in the beneficiary register: Validated organisations have a Legal Entity Appointed Representative (LEAR) nominated by the legal representative of the organisation and assigned in the system by the Commission. The LEAR can assign and revoke "Account Administrators" as well as "Legal Signatories" (LSIGNs) and "Financial Signatories" (FSIGNs). For organisations that were not yet validated, only the person having registered the organisation (the "self-registrant") has access. In this stage, no other access can be granted.
- For more details, see the Roles and access rights section of the H2020 Online Manual.
Where can I check my roles and access rights?
Go to the "My Roles" menu item under the Account button showing your name (top right corner of the screen).
How can I assign/revoke roles and access rights to/from other users?
If you have yourself a role allowing to assign/revoke other users, go to the "My Area" section available after you logged in:
- For adding project -related roles go to the "My Projects" menu item, click on the yellow "PC" (Project consortium) button in the table.
- For adding organisation -related roles go to the "My Organisations" menu item, click on the blue "OR" (Organisation Roles) button in the table.
How does the Financial Signatory (FSIGN) role work?
- FSIGNs are persons authorised to sign financial statements in EU grants on behalf of their organisation. The LEAR (or an Account Administrators) of the organisation can assign the FSIGN role to as many persons in the organisation as necessary. As part of the assignment, the LEAR may add a comment (e.g. "Mr. X is authorised to sign for all grants in department Y"). This comment is visible to other users in the organisation with roles in projects. Assignment of the FSIGN role is not sufficient for signing financial statements. The FSIGN must first be linked to a particular project (becoming thus a PFSIGN). Linking of FSIGNs (from the list established by the LEAR at the level of the organisation) to a project is made by Primary Coordinator Contacts, Coordinator Contacts or Participant Contacts. More than one FSIGN can be linked to a project. All the FSIGNs assigned to a project will be notified when a financial statement is due for signature but only one of them signs (the one doing it first).
- More information is available in the H2020 Online Manual.
How does the Legal Signatory (LSIGN) role for Horizon 2020 grants work?
- LSIGNs are persons authorised to sign grant agreements, amendments and declarations on honour in EU grants on behalf of their organisation. The LEAR (or an Account Administrators) of the organisation can assign the LSIGN role to as many persons in the organisation as necessary. As part of the assignment, the LEAR may add a comment (e.g. "Mr. X is authorised to sign all grants in department Y"). This comment is visible to other users in the organisation with roles in projects. Assignment of the LSIGN role is not sufficient for signing grant agreements etc. The LSIGN must first be linked to a particular project (becoming thus a PLSIGN). Linking of LSIGNs (from the list established by the LEAR at the level of the organisation) to a project is made by Primary Coordinator Contacts, Coordinator Contacts or Participant Contacts. More than one LSIGN can be linked to a project All the LSIGNs assigned to a project will be notified when a declaration on honour, grant agreement or amendment is due for signature but only one of them signs (the one doing it first).
- More information is available in the H2020 Online Manual.
Legal Entity Appointed Representative (LEAR) role
What is the LEAR?
See glossary definition
How can I appoint a LEAR?
- The LEAR must be appointed by the legal representative of the organisation (CEO, rector, Director-General...). The details are described H2020 Online Manual
What are the rights and tasks of the LEAR?
Please see the H2020 Online Manual.
Who is the appropriate person in my organisation for becoming the LEAR?
The LEAR function is typically performed by an administrative staff member in the organisation's central administration. LEARs must be appointed by the legal representative of the organisation.
I have sent the LEAR appointment documents. When can I use the beneficiary register of the Participant Portal to modify the data?
It might take between 2 and 4 weeks of time before the appointed LEAR is registered. The LEAR will receive a confirmation e-mail stating the next steps for the use of the beneficiary register.
When are the modified data in the beneficiary register taken into account during the submission of a proposal?
Modified data need to be first validated by the Validation Services. The modification requests sent by LEARs are considered as high priority for validation.
I am the LEAR of my organisation and have made an update in the beneficiary register some days ago, but it seems that nothing has been updated.
Your request to change information is being processed by the Validation Services (VS). If you modify legal information (e.g. address, VAT number, registration number, status of your organisation, etc.), you must submit supporting documents to the VS. The requested documents should be uploaded via the beneficiary register on the Participant Portal ("My Organisations" menu item after an ECAS login). You can find more information about the validation process in the H2020 Online Manual .
I am the LEAR and I received the letter with the PIN code, but I did not receive the email mentioned in the letter. How can I get it?
As the emails from firstname.lastname@example.org and EC-RESEARCH-IT-HELPDESK@ec.europa.eu are sent with a "private" tag they cannot be seen if using a shared or functional mailbox. To see the emails, you have to login to your shared or functional mailbox using Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA) or another web mail access. This way, you will use a password to login through the Outlook Web Access or web mail server, and the system will allow you to see the emails. If you need assistance to determine your type of mailbox or with the web mail access, you might need to contact your IT administrator.
- The email might have been treated as spam-contact your IT administrator to search for the email from:
- the eH2020 Service Desk Team subject: "Horizon 2020 Programme - User account creation".
- the eH2020Service Desk Team subject: "Horizon 2020 Programme - User account upgrade".
If your email address in the letter is wrong, you should contact the Validation Services (VS) via the beneficiary register of the Participant Portal and give them the details of your PIC, username and LEAR email address. Please also upload the received LEAR appointment letter.
- If your email address in the letter is correct, then you should contact EC-RESEARCH-IT-HELPDESK@ec.europa.eu and give them the details of your PIC and username. This request can only be submitted from the LEAR email address (as sender) and the LEAR will receive a reply to his email address once the issue has been solved.
- The email might have been treated as spam-contact your IT administrator to search for the email from:
I am the LEAR and I tried to activate my account by using the link in the email. But when I filled in the username and the PIN code, I received the error message: "Incorrect username or PIN code supplied, please try again".
- This problem could be caused by using an incorrect domain in the ECAS service. You should check if your domain is "External"; you can change it in the top right-hand corner of the ECAS password initialisation page .
I am the LEAR and I have successfully entered my username and PIN code as requested, but I never received the email that the system should send me.
- Contact your IT department to check if the email from the Authentication Service with the Subject: "ECAS Password Initialisation" is not "queuing" in the mail server.
- 'If it does not solve the problem, then please follow the instructions as indicated here in order to have the ECAS account verified by the responsible support team. This request can only be submitted from the LEAR email address (as sender) and the LEAR will receive a reply on his/her email address, once the issue has been solved.
My organisation wants to change the LEAR. How should we proceed?
You can appoint a new LEAR, simply by following the steps set out in the H2020 Online Manual under "How to appoint a representative (LEAR)" . There is no separate procedure specifically for replacing LEARs.
I am the LEAR of my organisation and I have changed my email address. How can I change it in the beneficiary register?
Choose the menu item My Organisations after ECAS login. Therein, you will inform the Validation Services via the messaging option. A new e-mail address will subsequently be updated. Please note that a new e-mail address triggers a new ECAS account meaning you will receive a new PIN code.
I am the LEAR, but when logging in the system shows me an error message.
You should contact the IT Help-desk EC-RESEARCH-IT-HELPDESK@ec.europa.eu and provide them the details of your PIC, username and LEAR email address, along with the description of your problem.
Some functionality seems to have disappeared since my last login. What happened?
This can be the result of one of the following:
- Each user of the Participant Portal is assigned one or more roles in relation to projects and or legal entities. It is possible that your roles have been modified since your last login. Please consult the H2020 Online Manual section on the Roles and Access Rights.
- The functionality disappeared since your last login because the life cycle of the asset has evolved and it does not need this functionality anymore.
What does the Beneficiary registration tool of the Participant Portal provide?
The Beneficiary Register, hosted by the Participant Portal (PP), allows participants to register and submit their legal and financial data electronically to the Commission. LEARs/Account Administrators, as well as self-registrants, will be able to update the legal- and financial data of their organisation. Once data is validated, only LEARs/Account Administrator will be able to request updates. For more information about these PP roles, see the H2020 Online Manual.
Where can I find the Beneficiary registration tool?
It is hosted on the Participant Portal.
If your organisation is already registered and you want to update its data or you want to continue a registration that you started but did not finalise, go to My Organisations.
I have created my ECAS account, how could I access the Beneficiary Register?
You should login to the Participant Portal.
To register your organisation or find out if it is already registered, go to How to Participate> Beneficiary Register.
If your organisation is already registered and you want to update its data or you want to continue a registration that you started but did not finalise, go to My Organisations.
I would like to become a contact point for the European Commission, how should I proceed?
The only contact point for the organisation will be the LEAR. Please consult the frequently asked questions on the LEAR in the Roles section and the H2020 Online Manual for more detailed info.
What happens if my organisation registered twice in Participant Portal?
If there is a duplicate registration (the same organisation has been registered twice), the new (or 2nd) PIC will be replaced by the PIC obtained with the first registration. The participant will be informed about any PIC related updates should the submitted proposal reach the grant preparation stage.
How can I contact the helpdesk in case of technical difficulties during the registration?
By sending your request to the IT Helpdesk. . If you have questions concerning the content of the information to be provided you can always contact the Research Enquiry Service.
I have registered my organisation but when I tried to log in to the Participant Portal, the data could only be viewed in read-only mode?
As from September 2013, the self-registered data remains always editable and updates and/or corrections can be introduced by the self-registrant till the LEAR has been nominated and activated. As from that point, only the LEAR will be able to manage that data. To find out how to appoint a LEAR, please consult the H2020 Online Manual.
Does the Beneficiary registration tool exist in any language other than English?
It is only available in English at this moment for the participants reaching it from the Participant Portal. For those participating in the educational programmes handled by DG EAC and EACEA, the organisation registration tool becomes progressively multilingual as from September 2013.
How can I modify my organisation's data?
For all validated organisations who wish to change their data, only the appointed LEAR can request modifications in the database (using the PIC code of the validated organisation).
Once the relevant supporting documents have been uploaded by the LEAR in the system, then the VS evaluates the accuracy of the request and, if possible, changes the information in the database.
If something else needs to be clarified or provided, the VS will contact the LEAR via the Beneficiary registration tool itself.
For organisations whose data is not yet validated, the self-registrant will be able to updated/correct the information provided and the VS will perform the assessment on the basis of the latest request.
Who is the VS or Validation Services?
The Validation Services (VS) is a specialised service within the Research Executive Agency which acts under powers delegated by the European Commission on behalf of the research DGs (DG RTD, ,DG MOVE, DG ENER, DG CNECT, DG ENTR), DG EAC and Executive Agencies (REA, ERCEA, EASME, EACEA, CHAFEA). The VS is entrusted to carry out the verification of the legal existence and legal status of f participants (the 'validation') as follows:
- For Horizon 2020 participants, the verification of the legal existence and legal status (public or private bodies, non-profit, secondary and higher education, international organisation, etc.) is done against the H2020 rules for participation and the provisions of the H2020 Grant Manual.
- For participants in other programmes, the VS verifies the legal existence and status based on the Financial Regulation (applicable to the general budget of the Union).
Participant Identification Code (PIC)
What is the PIC or Participant Identification Code of my organisation?
The Participant Identification Code (PIC) is a 9-digit unique identifier for every validated organisation. Participants will not have to submit their legal and financial information (and supporting documents) each time they submit a proposal or negotiate a grant agreement, but just their PIC.
Is it mandatory to have an ECAS account in order to get a PIC?
Yes. An ECAS account is required for every individual in order to log into the Participant Portal where the organisation registration tool is hosted. Through the organisation registration tool you can register your organisation and will then receive a PIC.
How can I find out whether my organisation already has a PIC?
First, use the Search PIC tool under How to Participate> Organisation Registration. If you still cannot find the PIC of your organisation, find out within your organisation who is the person nominated as LEAR; he/she will be able to tell you the PIC.
- I have a PIC on the Research Portal, how can I update this PIC for participation in the Education, Audio-visual, Culture, Citizenship and Volunteering (EAC) programme? Please go to the Organisation Register page of the EAC portal and log in with your ECAS account. In the menu bar, select Organisations from the drop down menu. You will subsequently be offered 3 options: Register, My Organisations and Search. Select My Organisations and the relevant PICs will appear. Continue by clicking on either VO to view the content or MO to modify, update or complete your information. Once the organisation data screen appears, select the corresponding EAC programme from the drop down menu on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Click on Update your Data to save any changes you may have made.
- I have a PIC on the portal of the Education, Audio-visual, Culture, Citizenship and Volunteering (EAC) programme, how can I update this PIC for the Research and Innovation programme? Please go to the Research and Innovation Participant Portal and log in with your ECAS account. Select My Organisations from the My Area drop-down menu and your organisation registered on the EAC portal and its PIC will appear. Continue by clicking on either VO to view the content or MO to modify, update or complete your information. Once the organisation data screen appears, select the Research and Innovation (R&I) Programme from the drop down menu on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Click on Update your Data to save any changes you may have made.
What are the advantages for participants using a PIC?
- Participants will not have to submit their legal and financial information (and supporting documents) each time they prepare a new proposal or grant agreement with the research DGs (DG RTD, DG EAC, DG MOVE, DG ENER, DG CNECT, DG ENTR) or Agencies, but just their PIC;
- Participants (through their Legal Entity Appointed Representatives - LEARs) will be able to check the legal and financial data the Commission has on their organisation; they will be able to propose changes if their records are not correct or up-to-date; any new transactions will automatically take the changes into account and this will reduce the administrative workload;
- The Validation Services will establish a privileged relationship with the LEAR, which will alleviate administrative and scientific personnel from the task of following-up on administrative data submitted, providing legal and financial information and related supporting documents.
I know that my organisation does not have a PIC. How can I get one?
If your organisation does not have any FP7 grant agreement or submitted proposal, then you should create an account in the Participant Portal in order to be able to register your organisation in the organisation registration tool of the Participant Portal. A PIC is provided at the end of the registration process and can be then used for proposal submission after 10 minutes.
How can I use the PIC in general?
In the tools used for the submission of proposal and for negotiation of projects there are fields available where you will be able to enter the PIC, thus avoiding entering all the legal and financial data of your organisation every time.
Our organisation is made up of different departments, should I get more PICs?
No, different departments from one organisation (legal entity) are not taken into account. Hence, all departments should make use of the same PIC for the organisation. As for the LEAR, currently only one person should be appointed for the entire organisation, but this person can delegate further his/her functions to the so-called Account Administrators.
I have received two PICs for my organisation, what should I do?
You might have received two PICs, if your organisation has been registered twice, and thus one registration is a duplicate. Duplicate registrations (and the respective temporary PICs) will be identified by the Validation Services (VS) if the proposal is successful and the participants enter negotiation. Your organisation would then be notified about the PIC which has been validated as permanent, and it is that permanent PIC that you would use in any applications. Until a PIC is validated as permanent, you can use any of the received temporary PICs when submitting your proposal.
How long should I wait before I can start using the PIC once I registered in the organisation registration tool?
New participants register their organisation in the Participant Portal. After the registration, they will receive a PIC. Although the legal data is directly saved in the participant database, there will be a delay of 10 minutes before the data will be visible in the proposal forms. However the PIC can be used immediately if it is to be used in the tool used for negotiation of grants.
After the registration of my organisation, I did not receive any email with the PIC.
- Contact your IT department to check if the email from the Authentication Service <email@example.com> subject: Your registration request in the organisation registration tool is not "queuing" in the mail server.
- The problem could occur if the email is treated as a spam. Ask your IT administrator to remove firstname.lastname@example.org or the domain ec.europa.eu from the spam filter.
- If it does not solve the problem, please contact EC-RESEARCH-IT-HELPDESK@ec.europa.eu and give them the details of your first name, last name, email address, username (if created) and the legal name of your organisation.
I was already using a PIC for my proposal. Then I received a new PIC from the Validation Services (VS). What happens to my old data?
Your data will not be lost. This is not a problem, since duplicate registrations (through temporary PICs) will be identified by the VS if the proposal is successful and the participant phase. From that moment on, you should only use the PIC validated by the VS.
When I entered the PIC in the proposal forms, I received an error message "No data is associated with this PIC". What shall I do?
If you have just registered your organisation in the organisation registration tool, the data will be recognized by the tool only 10 minutes after the registration.
Does my organisation's financial viability need to be checked?
The Commission always checks the financial viability of a project coordinator requesting an EU contribution exceeding EUR 500,000 unless the coordinator is:
- a public body
- a higher or secondary education establishment
- an international organisation or body whose participation is guaranteed by the government of an EU country or associated country, in accordance with the Guide of beneficiary registration,validation and financial viability check.
- a private individual in receipt of a scholarship
How can I check the financial viability of my organisation?
If your organisation's financial viability has to be assessed, you will be informed in due time of the exact process and the official contact persons. If you wish to run a self-check for your own information, you can use the tool provided in the Participant Portal.
I am an SME, do I have to fill in the SME self-assessment?
Yes. If you consider yourself SME and you have selected the Research and Innovation Programme, you can proceed with the SME self-assessment.
I am not an SME, do I have to fill in the SME self-assessment?
My SME is registered and already has a temporary PIC. Do I still need to fill in the SME self-assessment in the beneficiary register for H2020?
Yes. Although you might have registered in the Beneficiary Register, you need to make sure that you have completed the SME self-assessment part under the Research and Innovation Programme Section, if you intend to submit a proposal to the SME instrument.
How do I initiate the SME self-assessment process?
Once you have completed the first part of your PIC registration process, you will be given the option to choose a specific programme. Proceed by selecting Research and Innovation Programme from the drop down list. You will subsequently be asked whether you want to declare your organisation as SME. The SME self-declaration wizard will then run you through the rest of the process.
Note: Please make sure you have all required financial accounts readily available when you start the SME self-assessment.
I have completed the first part of the registration but did not proceed to the SME self-assessment. How can I pick up where I left off?
Enter the Participant Portal and click on the My Area tab. Then select My Organisation(s). Proceed by clicking on the MO icon under My Registered Organisations. You will then be redirected to the Starting Page. Select Research and Innovation Programme from the drop down list at the bottom left corner of the screen . In the Enterprise Data screen, select the Financial Year (either 2012 or 2013) from the drop down list. Once you have entered the relevant Financial Year, the SME self-declaration wizard will run you through the rest of the process.
I have filled in the SME self-assessment and do not agree with the result. What can I do?
You can redo the self-assessment making sure all the encoded info is correct. Alternatively, you can contact the business support offered in the wizard and request to check your result.
The Validation Services have already validated my SME status in the past. Do I need to fill in the SME self-assessment again?
This depends on the financial year data the SME validation was based upon. The financial year data cannot be older than 2 years. For instance, if for 2014 the financial year was either 2012 or 2013 then there is no need for a new self-assessment. If the SME validation was based on financial information dating back to 2011 or older, you are required to fill in the SME self-assessment again.
How do I have to submit my proposal?
Proposals are submitted electronically via the Participant Portal.
To access the submission system: Go to the specific topic page of a call >> and click on the tab Submission Service. You need to choose a type of action and then click on 'Start submission', which takes you to the electronic forms that you need to start filling in.
The submission wizard guides you in selecting the type of action, managing the list of participants and contact details, filling the administrative forms (Part A) and uploading the description of the scientific part of the project proposal (Part B) or any other annexes. Once the proposal is completed, it can be submitted - several times if revisions are needed - before the call deadline. Validation errors are shown where corrections are needed.
Where can I find more user guidance?
The H2020 Online Manual describes in detail the proposal submission process and requirements and you can find out more about the tool when clicking on the icon in the manual. .
How can I access draft or submitted proposals?
You have to log in to the Participant Portal and go to My Proposals, where you can find the list of your proposals. On the right side of the table under Action column, click on the 'Edit-draft' or 'View-Submitted' button and you will enter the electronic submission service, where you can continue finalising your proposal or you can view the submitted one. Editing submitted proposals is possible until the call deadline.
Do I have to register my organisation before drafting my proposal?
Yes, you have to register your organisation and receive a PIC (Participant Identification Code) number for submitting your proposal. All organisations participating in the proposal need to have a PIC. You can register an organisation and receive immediately a PIC on the Participant Portal>How to participate> Organisation Register.
How do I find the PIC number of my organisation?
The proposal submission service offers a PIC search within the tool, so you can search for the PIC code either during proposal submission or at any time on the Participant Portal .
You can read more about PIC numbers in section 4 of the FAQ .
Who can start drafting a proposal?
Coordinators have full editing rights over the proposal, so the coordinating organisation should start the drafting. They can also invite other participants to contribute. The coordinator also submits the proposal. Access rights do not depend on the roles - Main contact or Contact person in the submission system. It is the coordinating organisation that can determine the access rights of any participant he or invites to the proposal, be it the Main contact or Contact person of this organisation. It is either full access rights or read-only access. There is the following difference between the full access rights of coordinating and participating organisations:
- Contacts of the coordinating organisation with full access rights can edit all parts of the proposal, can upload the technical annexes and submit the proposal.
- Contacts of the participating organisations can edit their parts of the administrative form and can read only the other parts.
Who can invite participants for the proposal?
Any contact person of the coordinating organisation with full access rights (not a team member) can invite other participating entities and add contact persons.
How do I invite participants for the proposal?
If you are from the coordinating organisation and has full access rights (not a team member), once you are using the proposal submission service, go to the 'Parties' screen, Step 4: Managing Your Related Parties. Click on the 'Add Partner' button to invite additional partner organisations using their PIC numbers for their identification. You can then add further contact persons to any partner organisation by using the '+' sign next to the 'Contact' button.
When saving the data of the screen, the contact persons are automatically invited: they receive an e-mail with the steps to follow to access the proposal.
I cannot invite participants or contacts. What is the problem?
Only contact persons with full access rights of the coordinating organisation can invite other participants or contacts. Also, not all types of action allow the participation of several organisations and contact persons, therefore this function might be disabled. In the first stage of 2-stage calls only the coordinator can be added on Step 4, the full consortium has to be described in Part B though. Please check the specificities of the topic on the topic conditions page (topic is a new sub-section of H2020 calls and proposals are submitted to topics) on the Participant Portal.
Which parts can be edited by the participants and which parts can be edited only by the coordinator?
For most cases two roles are available when preparing and submitting a proposal: a coordinator or a partner. This has an effect on the actions you may do and the information you have to supply. The following table highlights the differences between a coordinator and partner actions:
Action Coordinator Partner Select the call Yes No Invite participants Yes No Submit the proposal Yes No Define own budget table Yes Yes Enter all administrative form data Yes No Enter own administrative forms' details Yes Yes Download and read the all proposal files Yes Yes Upload Part B and Annexes Yes No
What is part of the pre-registration data? Can I change it afterwards?
The abstract, the short summary, type of action, evaluation-related codes (eg. panel), the list of participants and contacts are part of the pre-registration data.
Once you pass the pre-registration step, this screen is no longer available to you. The short summary is shown later in the 'Abstract' of Form A, where the final version can be edited.
The data displayed when using my organisation's PIC number is not correct, what should I do?
Whenever the PIC data shown in the submission system appears to be incorrect, please contact the LEAR or the person who registered the PIC number, if there is no LEAR yet (see more in point 4 of the FAQ) of the organisation to change the data through the Participant Portal. This parallel process has no influence on the preparation and submission of the proposal. The proposal can be submitted even without the correction of such errors.
If the incorrect data might put at risk the eligibility of your proposal, you can create a new registration.
(NEW) What are the important steps before electronic signature of a grant agreement?
- Validation of organisations
The Validation Services (VS) centralise the collection of legal and financial documents and validates all participating organisations only once. If your organisation participated for the first time in a proposal and registered before submission receiving only a temporary PIC, it now has to be validated by VS before a grant signature.
- LEAR appointment
All organisations that are invited to preparing a grant agreement must appoint a Legal Entity Appointed Representative (or LEAR) who will be in charge of providing the legal and financial documents to VS and can request modifications of the current legal and financial data in the Beneficiary Register on the Participant Portal. It will not be possible to directly modify the organisation's legal and financial data in the grant preparation and management tool. So the appointment of the LEAR can become a blocking issue to the grant signature if changes are required.
- Validation of organisations
In our organisation two persons must BOTH sign the grant agreement. Would this be possible during the electronic signature?
In the process of the electronic signature of H2020 grant agreements, the Commission requires one electronic signature act by one person (who must have the role of Project Legal Signatory (PLSIGN) in the Participant Portal). If the internal rules of an organisation require more than one signature, this requirement must be implemented by establishing an internal process in the organisation assuring that the single electronic signature act in our system is executed only after all the necessary authorisations were given. These authorisations (signatures) must be collected, stored and archived locally following the usual management practice of the organisation, for instance via an internal paper-based process. Please refer also to the Terms and conditions of use of the electronic exchange system, stating that "The LEAR and its organisation warrant that users appointed as LSIGNs or FSIGNs are duly authorised to represent the organisation in relation to all LSIGN or FSIGN responsibilities".
Why can I not modify the data directly in the grant management tool? ?
You need to contact the LEAR of your organisation in order to request an update of the data of your organisation. The LEAR will then request an update in the Beneficiary Register on the Participant Portal and as soon as it is validated by the Commission, the data will be updated in the grant management tool.
I want to involve a new participant, what should I do?
The new participant first needs to register in the Beneficiary Register and get a Participant Identification Code (PIC). Once the participant is registered, it can immediately use the received PIC in the grant management tool.
Where can I find more information about the grant management tool?
You can find more information about the grant management tool in the H2020 Online Manual when clicking on the icon .
About the reporting in general
Where can I access the reporting functions?
After login on the Participant Portal, the 'My Projects' menu shows the user the links to the different IT tools under the 'Actions' column.
For Horizon 2020 and other new programmes projects that start in 2014 there is one grant management tool where you sign and amend your grant agreement and also submit scientific and financial reporting. So you will see only one action button MP (Manage Projects).
For FP7 and CIP projects, there are different tools used for financial and scientific reporting. So you will see several action buttons: (Scientific Reporting & Deliverables) (Financial Reporting) and (Periodic Reporting)
As users are offered a personalised space on the Portal, they will have access only to those IT tools that are relevant to their projects - no mistake can be done by the user.
Who can edit the financial forms and explanation on the use of resources?
(Primary) Coordinator Contacts, Participant Contacts, Task Managers and Financial Signatories can edit all parts of the financial forms including the explanation on the use of resources.
Who can view the summaries of the partners' financial forms and of the explanation on the use of resources?
Once the partners complete the financial reports, summary tables (either per cost categories or per activities) per beneficiary are available for (Primary) Coordinator Contacts.
There are three reporting tools that are available on the Participant Portal currently:
- FP7 Periodic reporting - the tool is available for ICT projects mainly. See the online guidance.
- FP7 Financial reporting is the function to be used when the financial form, Forms C are prepared. Details are available in the User Manual.
- FP7 Reporting and deliverables is the function where scientific periodic and final reports can be prepared, deliverables, publications, etc. can be uploaded. Details are available in the User Manual.
The reporting responsibilities of the beneficiaries are described in the Guidance Notes on Project Reporting, the guide and templates are available under the guidance section of the How to participate > Reference Documents > FP7 tab of the Participant Portal: https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/funding/reference_docs.html .
Explanation of personnel costs, subcontracting and any major costs incurred by each beneficiary , such as the purchase of important equipment, travel costs, large consumable items linked to work packages .
Where to fill in this information?
For newly created reports (after 21st May 2012) this information will have to be filled in in the financial reporting function accessible via the icon.
Draft reports that had been started in the scientific reporting tool (before 21st May 2012) can be either finalised there or the user can convert the financial tables in the financial reporting tool into the more detailed ones that include the option of editing the explanation on the use of resources.
What happens to the Forms C that were submitted already?
Finalised, submitted and approved Forms C will not have to be modified.
Will this new use of resources be applicable to all project types?
The new function is available as from 1st January 2013 for all project types once the user starts to prepare a new financial report.
Who can edit the explanation on the use of resources?
(Primary) Coordinator Contacts, Participant Contacts, Task Managers and Financial Signatories can edit all parts of the financial forms including the explanation on the use of resources.
Who can view the summaries of the partners' financial forms and of the explanation on the use of resources?
Once the users complete the financial reports with the explanation on the use of resources in the financial reporting or in the periodic reporting tools, summary tables (either per costs or per activities) are available for (Primary) Coordinator Contacts per beneficiary.
Where can I read more about the recent technical changes on the explanation on the use of resources?
1) GENERAL (CFS and CoMUC)Key terms
- CFS — certificate on the financial statement
- CoMUC — certificate on the methodology
- GA – Grant Agreement
- MGA – Model Grant Agreement
What auditors can issue the certificate on the financial statement (CFS) or certificate on the methodology (CoMUC)?
General option valid for all types of Beneficiaries/linked third parties
You are free to choose a qualified external auditor (including the statutory auditor) who is:
- independent from you; and
- qualified to carry out statutory audits of accounting documents (under the national legislation implementing the Directive 2006/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts, amending Council Directives 78/660/EEC and 83/349/EEC and repealing Council Directive 84/253/EEC or similar national regulations).
You may alternatively choose an independent public officer who has been granted (by the relevant national authorities) the legal powers to audit the beneficiary/linked third party or follow the first option
For International organisations only
You may appoint an internal/external auditor in accordance with your internal financial regulations and procedures or follow the option valid.
Can an auditor authorised to issue CFSs or CoMUCs in one EU country do so for a beneficiary located in another?
YES - provided they follow the relevant national accounting rules and may issue a CFS or CoMUC as explained above.
Do we have to name the independent public officer to the Commission in advance?
Can we charge to the project an internal invoice from an independent public officer of a public body or the internal audit service of an international organisation for the services provided in issuing a CFS or CoMUC? Would this cost be eligible?
YES – the real direct costs (excluding any profit margin) are eligible provided they satisfy all general eligibility conditions and specific conditions relating to direct personnel costs (see Article 6.1 and 6.2). Those conditions include, among others, keeping time-records of the hours worked for the action.
You can't charge any profit for the work carried out.
Do we have to use the model CFSs (Annex 5) and CoMUCs (Annex 6) in the H2020 MGA?
YES – in particular, auditors must carry out the procedures set out in the Annexes.
As a rule, the Commission won't ask auditors to carry out other procedures. When it is impossible to carry out certain agreed-upon procedures, this must be reported as an exception and the beneficiary and the auditor may agree on alternative procedures. The result of the procedures should be reported under ‘Further remarks' (see below for more information on that section).
What kind of service is rendered by the auditor in issuing a CFS or CoMUC?
CFSs or CoMUCs are issued on the basis of agreed-upon procedures laid down by the Commission. These are based on the framework ISRS 4400 engagement established by the International Audit and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) and, as such, they constitute neither an audit nor a review within the meaning of ISRS 4400.
In the independent report, the auditor confirms the prescribed standard factual findings or signals an exception after carrying out a set of agreed-upon procedures predefined by the Commission. The auditor states the results of the procedures, or facts emerging from them, in the table of procedures and the dedicated sections of the independent report. It is up to the Commission, the user of the report, to assess the findings for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
The independent report sets out factual findings, not an audit opinion or expression of assurance.
Wherever the word ‘review(ed)/reviewing’ is used in the procedures, it is to be understood as ‘examined/examining’.
Any ‘audit evidence’ referred to in the standard factual findings will be understood as ‘evidence gathered from carrying out the prescribed procedures’.
Similarly, ‘adequately supported’ means ‘supported by information/documentation made available by the beneficiary (and entered in the left-hand column)’, unless signalled otherwise under ‘Further remarks’.
Is the auditor expected to specify the evidence on which the report is based?
NO – there’s no need. The report is assumed to be based on the procedures listed in the table.
Auditors may provide additional information under ‘Further remarks’ if, for instance, there is a need to clarify what evidence has been examined in order to explain a particular factual finding or if the beneficiary presented evidence different from that covered in the table of procedures. In order to assess whether this is necessary, ask yourself whether the information could help the Commission evaluate the eligibility of a certain cost (for a CFS) or the adequacy of the average personnel cost methodology (for a CoMUC). It is not recommended to include information on the report that does not serve these objectives.
Does the expression ‘all necessary documents have been reviewed’ imply that the auditor should decide what documents are appropriate for completing a procedure?
We used the expression ‘Any other document that supports the XXX costs declared’ in the CFSs and COMUCs for certain procedures where it wasn’t feasible to specify the name or type of document applicable for beneficiaries in all countries covered by the framework programme.
Apart from being familiar with the legal and financial rules for the framework programme, the auditor is expected to possess the necessary knowledge of the national, regional, local and other rules and regulations applicable to the beneficiary. The Commission expect auditors to identify typical documents needed for certain procedures to assess the standard factual finding (e.g. payroll slips, tax and social security declarations, general labour agreements for factual findings 15-18 in the CFS).
If the auditor finds it useful or necessary for the completeness of the report, he/she may provide more information on the evidence examined in the course of such procedures under ‘Further remarks’.
Where can I find more information on the nature and extent of the procedures to be carried out?
We have established the procedures on the basis of the MGA. Auditors should therefore familiarise themselves with the MGA and the additional information contained in the Annotated MGA User Guide. This should clarify the purpose of the procedures and the significance of the standard factual findings.
If, after having the MGA and the Annotated MGA, the description of a procedure or factual finding remains unclear to you, you can contact the Research Enquiry Service (Horizon 2020 Helpdesk).
Can auditors carry out procedures other than those in the table in Annex 5 or 6?
As a rule, we don’t ask auditors to carry out other procedures. When it is impossible to carry out certain agreed-upon procedures, this must be reported as an exception and the beneficiary and the auditor may agree on alternative procedures.
You should report information on the alternative procedures and the results under ‘Further remarks’.
What does the Commission do with the information in the CFS or CoMUC?
The Commission assess the findings reported by the auditor, any other relevant information and the beneficiary’s representations and statements to draw conclusions as to the eligibility of costs claimed or the adequacy of the methodology used to calculate average personnel costs.
What is the purpose of the terms of reference for Annex 5 and 6?
These are part of the agreed-upon procedures. They are the minimum conditions applying to the work of the auditor.
Beneficiaries and auditors can insert any specific terms (auditor’s fees, liability, applicable law, etc.) under ‘Other terms’ at the end.
In what language should the certificates be provided?
In the language indicated in Article 20.7 of the GA (most often English).
Where can the beneficiary find detailed information on the two types of certificate?
All necessary information and practical hints for producing the certificates are available on the Certifications page of the Online Manual on the Participant Portal.
To whom can I address further questions?
The Research Enquiry Service (H2020 Helpdesk) is there to ensure that requests are processed more efficiently.
Under which cost category can I claim the costs of issuing a CFS or CoMUC?
You can claim them under ‘Costs for other goods and services’ if the certificate was issued by an external auditor. If the certificate was issued by an independent internal auditor it can be claimed under personnel costs.
The cost incurred by the internal auditor in issuing a certificate results from multiplying the actual hourly rate applicable to him/her by the time spent for this activity.
2) CFS - Certificate on the financial statement
When do I need a CFS?
If the cumulative requested contribution is EUR 325 000 or more as reimbursement of actual costs and unit costs calculated by you on the basis of your usual cost-accounting practices (i.e. average personnel costs).
Costs based on lump sums, flat rates (e.g. indirect costs) or unit costs (other than those for personnel costs calculated according to the beneficiary’s usual cost-accounting practices) are not counted for the EUR 325 000 threshold (and don’t need to be covered by the certificate) like the amount paid as pre-financing. Linked third parties must submit a certificate if they themselves (i.e. without taking into account costs claimed by the beneficiary in question) reach the EUR 325 000 threshold.
Within 60 days of the end of the last reporting period, coordinators must submit a final report including a CFS for each beneficiary and each linked third party that requested the contribution indicated above.
If a certificate is required, it must cover all costs declared as actual costs or average personnel costs. Incomplete certificates will be returned for correction.
Can I ask the auditor to issue one CFS per reporting period or for several reporting periods or may he or she only issue a single CFS for the whole action?
You can do either. However, you should formally send the CFS(s) to the Commission in the final reporting period only, even if the beneficiary/linked third party has reached the EUR 325 000 threshold in previous reporting periods and intermediate CFSs have been issued by the certifying auditor. The Commission will not accept certificates submitted at any other time (and costs incurred for such certificates will not be considered eligible, because they are not necessary).
If you submit several CFS at the end of the action bear in mind that all reporting periods must be covered.
When are the costs of a CFS eligible?
You can claim the cost of a CFS if its submission was mandatory and the underlying costs fulfil all general and applicable specific eligibility conditions.
Certificates may be submitted only with the final financial report. Under the general eligibility conditions in Article 6.1(ii), costs must be incurred in the period referred to in Article 3, with the exception of those relating to the submission of the periodic report for the last reporting period and the final report (see Article 20).
Under Article 20.4 of the GA, the costs of a CFS are considered to relate to the submission of the final report. The costs of a mandatory CFS can be eligible in the last reporting period only.
If the beneficiary submits a CFS without the EUR 325 000 threshold having been reached or with an interim financial report, the Commission will reject the costs for not being necessary for the action.
What is the purpose of the CFS for the EU?
The information in the CFS enables us to assess whether costs charged in the financial statements are eligible. The CFS is therefore an important, albeit not the only, basis for the ex ante control of the regularity of EC expenditure on H2020 actions.
What should be included in the ‘Not applicable’ section of a CFS?
If no cost is declared under a certain category or the condition for applying a procedure is not fulfilled, the corresponding finding(s) and procedure(s) are not applicable (N.A.). For instance, the procedure and finding relating to ‘beneficiaries with accounts established in euro’ don’t apply to ‘beneficiaries with accounts established in a currency other than euro’. Similarly, if no additional remuneration is paid, the finding(s) and procedure(s) for additional remuneration are not applicable.
If a finding isn’t applicable, it must be marked ‘N.A.’ in the corresponding row in the right-hand column of the table to signal that it did not have to be corroborated by the auditor and the related procedure(s) did not have to be carried out.
What should be included in the ‘Exceptions’ section of a CFS?
The auditor must signal an exception if he/she was unable:
- to corroborate a standard finding after carrying out the corresponding procedure; or
- to complete a procedure due to, for instance, existence of key information that could not be reconciled or the unavailability of data.
In addition, any changes to the standard template must be reported under ‘Exceptions’.
Exceptions shall be marked ‘E’ in the corresponding row in the right-hand column of the table. Also, if the exception is quantifiable, please enter the corresponding amount.
What should be included in the ‘Further remarks’ section of a CFS?
This section is for the certifying auditor to provide further explanations on the issues reported. It doesn’t have to be filled in, but should be used for information that could help the end-user interpret the contents of the report, e.g. why certain findings were ultimately corroborated by the auditor (marked as ‘C’ in the corresponding row in the right-hand column of the table).
When it is impossible to carry out certain agreed-upon procedures, this must be reported as an exception and the beneficiary and the auditor may agree on alternative procedures, the result of which should be reported by the auditor under ‘Further remarks’.
The more detailed the information, the easier it will be for the Commission to assess the situation and make a reasoned decision on the eligibility of certain costs.
Will the results obtained from the sampled items be extrapolated to the whole population?
The tests are applicable only to the selected sample and the results should not be extrapolated to the population as a whole. The standard factual findings relate to sampled items only and not to the total population.
3) CoMUC - Certificate on the methodology
What is the purpose of the CoMUC for the EU?
The CoMUC will enable us to draw conclusions as to the existence of usual cost-accounting practice and whether it ensures that direct personnel costs claimed on that basis comply with the GA (Grant Agreement). The Commission will draw its own conclusions from the report and any additional information it have asked for.
The Commission will use the CoMUC for preventive (ex ante) verification to detect and correct errors in the methodology used to claim average personnel costs (‘Unit costs for direct personnel calculated in accordance with usual cost-accounting practices’) for all actions under H2020. It’s in everyone’s interest for any errors to be detected and corrected as early as possible.
Which cost methodology is covered by the CoMUC?
Only average personnel cost methodologies are covered by the CoMUC. Under Article 18.1.2 of the Agreement, beneficiaries and linked third parties that declare direct personnel costs as unit costs calculated in accordance with their usual cost-accounting practices (average personnel costs) may submit to the Commission, for approval, a CoMUC.
Do we have to submit a CoMUC if we apply average personnel costs?
NO – it is completely optional.
You may apply the methodology without the Commission having formally accepted it in advance.
On what should the CoMUC be based?
The CoMUC should be based on the model in Annex 6 to the MGA.
What’s the main advantage of having a CoMUC accepted by the Commission?
Once the Commission has accepted a CoMUC, no systemic or recurrent error can be attributed to the accepted methodology unless the beneficiary has concealed information for the purpose of the approval of the certificate.
When can I submit a CoMUC?
At any point during implementation of H2020 framework programme; send an e-mail to our functional mailbox: EC-H2020-Unit-Cost-Methodology-Certification@ec.europa.eu.
As a minimum, the H2020 action should have been started and the data available must give the auditor enough of a basis to carry out the procedures set out in Annex 6. Ideally, we would recommend submitting the methodology after at least one reporting period.
What are the documents to be submitted in a CoMUC?
Besides the terms of reference, duly signed by you and the auditor/Public Officer and the auditor’s independent report of factual findings which including the table with the statements, procedures and findings you must enclose the annexes requested in the Annex 6 to the grant agreement, notably:
- Brief description of the methodology for calculating personnel costs, productive hours and hourly rates;
- Brief description of the time recording system in place;
- An example of the time records used by you;
- Description of any budgeted or estimated elements applied together with an explanation as to why they are relevant for calculating the personnel costs and how they are based on objective and verifiable information;
- A summary sheet with the hourly rate for direct personnel declared by you and recalculated by the Auditor for each staff member included in the sample (the names do not need to be reported);
- A comparative table summarising for each person selected in the sample a) the time claimed by you in the Financial Statement(s) and b) the time according to the time record verified by the Auditor;
- A copy of the letter of representation provided to the Auditor.
You may additionally submit any information that could help us evaluate the adequacy of the average personnel cost methodology (for a CoMUC) to fulfil the conditions set out in point A of Article 6.2 of the MGA.
Are the costs of a CoMUC eligible?
Costs incurred for a CoMUC are eligible costs in any financial statement submitted under any H2020 GA, provided we approved the CoMUC.
You can claim CoMUC costs only once for each H2020 GA, unless a new CoMUC has to be submitted due to a change of methodology. We therefore recommend that you anticipate the submission and estimate the costs already at proposal/negotiation stage, so that they don’t weigh disproportionately on a specific action.
If the Commission has accepted our average personnel costs methodology for FP7, is it automatically accepted for H2020?
NO – as explained in the Annotated Grant Agreement, certificates of methodology issued for FP7 beneficiaries are not valid for H2020. This is because the rules (on productive hours, additional remuneration, etc.) have changed in H2020 and the different legal basis may mean that a methodology that was acceptable under FP7 may not be acceptable under H2020.
Where can I read more about the electronic-only submission of Forms C?
- Check out the presentation on "E-only submission of Forms C" (PDF version ).
- Read the Quick info on the electronic-only submission of Forms C .
Even if no signed paper versions of forms C have to be sent to the Commission, do we have to keep signed versions in our files within our organisation?
From the Commission side, there is no obligation to create paper versions of forms C. The The sole exceptelectronic-only submission is the valid act. The need for paper versions might arise from internal rules and processes in your organisation.
Our organisation has no LEAR. How can we register the persons authorised to sign forms C (FSIGNs)?
Your organisation must first appoint a LEAR. Only the LEAR can register the FSIGNs. Please see the H2020 Online Manual for the steps of appointing a LEAR.
My organisation is small and we participate only in one project. The appointment of so many persons in different roles (LEAR, PaCo, FSIGN) seems quite an overburden.
You can appoint one and the same person in different roles (e.g. the same person can be LEAR of your organisation, PaCo and FSIGN for your project). Once a LEAR is appointed, he/she can appoint all other roles in his/her organisation (and change them at any moment in the Participant Portal).
I have a third party reporting costs in my project (special clause 10). How does it work in this case?
A separate form C for the third party has to be completed in the financial reporting tool and submitted by the PaCo of the beneficiary to the coordinator. After the coordinator has submitted the whole package to the Commission, the form C of the third party must be printed and signed by an authorised representative of the third party. This paper document must be kept in the files of the beneficiary (no sending to the Commission).
I am coordinating a multi-beneficiary collaborative project signed before 1.1.2013. Will I have to monitor two different parallel streams of forms C (paper signed and only electronic) depending on the beneficiaries?
No. The transition to electronic-only submission of forms C can only be made for the consortium as a whole. Either your grant maintains the provisions under which it was signed (and then all beneficiaries will keep the traditional process with electronic submission and paper signature), or your grant is amended in order to allow for the paperless submission of forms C. In this case, all beneficiaries will report under the new regime. For practical help on how to amend your FP7 or CIP grant agreement see the online guidance.
Will the electronic process affect negatively the time I have to wait to be paid as beneficiary or coordinator?
On the contrary, apart from the advantages in terms of simplified administrative processes, the only-electronic submission of forms C will help to compile a full report faster and therefore will allow the Commission to start its analysis earlier, accelerating the whole payment procedure.
In my organisation, forms C are always signed by two persons. How should we handle this in the new approach?
Only one electronic signature per form C will be possible in the system. If prior to this signature your organisation requires an approval involving more than one person, the necessary process must be organised internally in your institution.
What happens if the financial signatory (FSIGN) chosen for the project is absent (leave, sickness etc.)?
The Participant Contact (PaCo) can assign more than one FSIGN to the project, so that business continuity is covered in case of absences. All FSIGNs assigned to the project will receive the notifications "form C ready for signature". However, even if several FSIGNs are assigned to the project there is only one act of electronic signature, by the first FSIGN the form C.
Can the consortium go back to paper submission after having signed the amendment to go for electronic-only?
No. Once the amendment on the paperless process has been accepted and signed by the parties, the consortium has to apply the electronic-only transmission.
Can the coordinator see the drafted versions?
Yes, the coordinator is able to see drafts and can comment before the form is transmitted and signed officially by the FSIGN of a beneficiary.
Can the coordinator of a consortium reject an electronically signed Form C of a participant?
Yes, coordinators can reject Forms C for corrections. In this case, the cycle starts again at the beneficiary (drafting - ready to sign - signing and submitting) Beneficiaries can avoid rejections after electronic signature by checking the Form C in draft status with their coordinators (coordinators can view draft Forms C of other participants).
How can the LEAR indicate which FSIGN should be assigned to a given project?
In the Participant Portal the LEAR will be able to nominate FSIGNs for the organisation and add comments (optional) about the scope of responsibilities or duration (i.e. "Mr Smith can sign for projects of Department X from 1st October 2011").
Can the LEAR limit the duration of the FSIGN nomination?
The LEAR (or one of his/her account administrators) can revoke an FSIGN at any time, and as a consequence, the person will not be able to sign Forms C any longer.
Who can submit the signed forms to the Commission - the Coordinator Contact or the FSIGN of the coordinating organisation?
Once the forms are signed by the partners' FSIGNs including the coordinator's FSIGN, the coordinator contact will be able to transmit the whole package to the Commission or its services.
Can the electronic forms be printed?
Yes, the printing functionality remains as it is now. In addition, users will be able to download the forms with the e-receipt.
Who should be chosen as FSIGN signing electronically the Forms C?
The nominated persons must have the authority within the organisation to sign the financial statements.
Does the LEAR have to send a proof who can be assigned an FSIGN role within the entity?
No. The LEAR is responsible for appointing FSIGNs. The LEAR is appointed with a blue-ink signature by the legal representative of the organisation, which establishes the chain of trust.
What is the good moment to ask an amendment concerning electronic signature for already on-going grant agreements?
If a consortium of on-going FP7 or CIP grants decides to change for the electronic-only submission of Forms C, the coordinator has to initiate a grant amendment. It is advisable to start the amendment procedure well before or after the reporting period, as it is not allowed in the system to manage an amendment procedure at the same time with reporting. To avoid reporting (and payment) delays, it is better to do the amendment shortly after the closed reporting.
My project is part of a Joint Technology Initiative (JTI). Is it accessible through the Participant Portal?
Currently, the projects of the following JTIs are accessible through the Participant Portal:
- Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (FCH)
- Aeronautics and Air Transport (Clean Sky)
- Electronic components & systems (ECSEL) (merger of the ARTEMIS embedded systems JTI and the ENIAC nanoelectronics JTI set up in 2008)
From 2014 onwards the following JTIs will also manage new grants on the Participant Portal:
- Bio-based Industries Initiative (BBI)
How can I create a deep link to a particular Call?
You can find more information about Call deep linking in the Deep Linking "How to" manual .
What is the difference between "cut-off" date and "intermediate" date?
A call for proposals with a fixed deadline may concern different research areas (determined by activity topics, type of actions,...) with different deadlines for proposal submission. These deadlines are called cut-off dates .
An intermediate deadline is an intermediate date in the context of a call operating a continuous submission procedure. Proposals are evaluated in batches after each intermediated deadline.
How do I find closed FP7 calls?
From the home page , click on "Funding opportunities" in the top menu; on the next page click on "calls" under "FP7 & CIP calls" in the left-hand menu; on the next page click on the button "Filtering and sorting" and then use the filter and sort functions for choosing the calls of your interest.
How can I search for documents that cover a particular topic?
You can use the general Participant Portal search also for the documents. After inserting the topic that interests you, you will be lead to the page with all the search results. On the left hand you have a panel with filtering options where you should choose the category of H2020 Reference Documents or FP7 Reference Documents.
(NEW) How do I find the FP7 Documents site?
From the home page, click on "How to participate" in the top menu, on the next page click on "Reference Documents" in the left-hand menu and then choose the tab "FP7".
(NEW) Where do I find the H2020 guide to financial issues?
In Horizon 2020 the annotated grant agreement gathers all guidelines on the model grant agreement, including financial issues. It avoids multiplication of guidance documents.
How to use the Expert area in the Participant Portal?
I have never been registered as an expert. What should I do?
Experts who wish to be considered for assignments for the EU programmes mentioned below have to register in the European Commission central expert database. Experts will access the Registration Service from two different locations, as follows:
- Experts wishing to take part in EU programmes: Horizon 2020 (research and innovation programme), COSME (Competitiveness for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), CEF (Connecting Europe Facility), RFCS (Research Fund for Coal and Steel) and Third Health Programme (managed by Chafea, Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency) will access the service from the Participant Portal .
- Experts wishing to take part in Education, Audiovisual and Culture programmes will access the Registration Service from the Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency page on Europa .
Registering as an expert (all except EACEA programmes):
You should go to the Expert area in the Participant Portal.
From here, you will first have to create an ECAS (European Commission Authentication Service) account , if you don't already have one. To do so, click on 'Create your Portal (ECAS) account' at the bottom of the page. Follow the instructions on the ECAS registration screen. Upon successful registration, you will receive a confirmation email from ECAS with a link to change your password.
Once this is done, go back to the Expert area in the Participant Portal, click on the button 'Register as Expert' . This leads you to the introductory page of the expert registration service.
Once you have read the introduction, click on the button 'Create profile' .
Registering as an Education, Audiovisual and Culture programme expert:
You should go to the Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency page on Europa. From here, you click the Call for Experts link in the 'About EACEA' box at the top of the page.
You will be taken to the Call for Experts page .
In the section 'How to Apply' , follow the instructions provided to register as an expert.
- Registering as an expert (all except EACEA programmes):
I have previously entered my details in the Cordis EMM (Experts Management Module) database. Should I register again in the Expert area in the Participant Portal?
Yes, you should create a new profile in the Expert area
You will first need to create an ECAS (European Commission Authentication Service) account if you don't already have one. This can also be done from the link above.
For data protection reasons, it is no longer possible to migrate your profile from the previous CORDIS database. Experts who migrated their profile, but did not validate it on time also need to create a new profile.
I have previously entered my details in the Lumese database (previous EACEA database). Should I register again?
Yes, you should create a new profile by following the procedure described in the first question of this section.
I have previously registered as an expert for the Seventh Framework Programme for research (FP7). Is it necessary for me to register again for Horizon 2020?
Experts previously registered for FP7 need to declare their interest in working as an expert for the Horizon 2020 programme as well as FP7 assignments e.g. monitoring FP7 funded projects by selecting Horizon 2020 in the programme selection page, which is the first page of the online registration platform.
In addition, the area of expertise section has been revised. There is a new set of specialist fields including scientific as well as business and innovation keywords and pre-defined themes corresponding to the thematic domains of the Horizon 2020 programme.
Experts interested in being considered for Horizon 2020 assignments are advised to identify their expertise in the specialist fields and pre-defined themes trees.
As an organisation, how can I recommend experts?
If your organisation is interested in recommending experts for the Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation, you can send an email to: ECemail@example.com
The email should be sent from your organisation's email account and include the following text and preferably complete the details in the Excel template provided. Subject of email: expert recommendations On behalf of my organisation, I would like to recommend experts to the European Commission for tasks in connection with the Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation.
The details of my organisation and the experts I wish to recommend are presented in the attached Excel file.
I would like to apply as an independent expert. Is it necessary to be recommended by an organisation or can I apply on my own?
It is not at all necessary to be recommended by an organisation in order to register in the expert's database.
When recommending experts, should an organisation recommend only its own experts?
No. An organisation is free to recommend lists of its own experts or experts from other bodies and the latter is particularly encouraged. There is no advantage to be gained from an organisation nominating its own experts. It should simply invite the appropriate people to register their profile directly in the Expert area in the Participant Portal.
- For any issues with the ECAS log-in, Please consult the 'Authentication and security help' section
Completing the forms
What happens if I do not fill in all the fields? Can I complete the application later?
You do not have to complete your profile in one go. Your record remains available at all times for completion. However, please save all changes before exiting the application.
The progress indicator on top displays how far you are at filling in your profile and shows which sections are valid and which ones still need to be completed .
You should note that your profile will only be considered for selection by the European Commission or funding body when it is valid .
Once your profile is valid, a pop-up message on the screen will confirm this. In addition, you will receive an email confirming that your profile is valid.
Which fields do I need to complete?
Programme Selection: The 'Programme Selection' section is where you declare the programme(s) for which you wish to be considered Horizon 2020,COSME (Competitiveness for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), CEF (Connecting Europe Facility), Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) RFCS (Research Fund for Coal and Steel) and Third Health Programme (managed by Chafea, Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency).
For example, if you wish to be considered as a Horizon 2020 expert, you must select "Horizon 2020". Similarly for those who wish to be considered as an expert for EACEA, you must select "expert for EACEA" plus at least one of the EACEA programmes. Your choice of programme will determine which 'trees' are displayed in the area of expertise section for you to indicate your particular expertise.The 'trees' displayed for experts selecting COSME, CEF , RFCS and the Third Health Programme are the same as for Horizon 2020.
In addition, for those who select "expert for Horizon 2020", your authorisation is required to view your data for research funding bodies with a public service mission, in the Member States and countries associated to the research and innovation programme and/or other structures implementing EU research activities such as Joint Technology Initiatives (long-term Public-Private Partnerships) and entities set up involving the EU in joint research programmes with several Member States.
Personal Details: You should enter your title, first and last name, gender, date of birth and nationality as well as your address and phone number.
Languages: You should enter your level in reading, writing and conversation for each of your languages. Note that English is usually the common language for assignments.
Education: For each qualification, the title, subject or field, name and country of institution as well as the year awarded needs to be indicated in the new forms.
Area of expertise, Specialist fields: Identify your specialist field(s) using the interactive tree. A minimum of one field per programme must be selected. For Horizon 2020, COSME, CEF, RFCS and the Third Health Programme note that it is only possible to select your specialist field(s) at a certain level or below e.g. Science/Natural Sciences/Mathematics/Pure mathematics, Applied mathematics .
Area of expertise, Pre-defined themes: A minimum of two themes per programme should be selected from the interactive tree.
Area of expertise, Open keywords: A minimum of three keywords or phrases that best represent your expertise should be recorded.
Each word/phrase should be entered separately by clicking on 'Add keyword/phrase'.
Professional Experience - Employment History: It is important for the European Commission to readily identify experts with industrial expertise and this is explicitly asked for in this section.
You will also need to indicate your current work situation here. Please ensure that the current work situation includes a starting date.
You should also indicate the number of years that you have worked in your specialist and/or related fields .
For each employer, the organisation name, address, type and size should be indicated as well as job title and employment dates.
Professional Experience, Experience in Field: Experts with previous experience in tasks related to the European Commission's programmes are asked to specify in which capacity they assisted the European Commission with its activities. In addition, other experience in peer review or evaluation should be described.
Professional Experience - Publications and Achievements: If you don't have any publications, you can enter any major achievements in this section. It is mandatory to complete either one publication OR a major achievement.
Why does my profile appear as "invalid"?
In order for your profile, to be considered as valid, all fields should be filled in, unless marked as optional.
In addition, please take particular note of the following points:
- In the programme selection screen, at least one programme should be selected. In addition, for Horizon 2020 experts only, please select either yes/no for the two questions on authorising access to your data.
- You should complete at least one qualification and at least one language .
- With regard to area of expertise, at least one specialist field , at least two pre-defined themes and at least three open keywords should be completed. If you have indicated that you wish to be considered for more than one programme, you must select at least one specialist field per programme and at least two pre-defined themes per programme.
- In the professional experience -> employment history screen, at least one employer should be completed.
- In the professional experience -> publications & achievements screen, either one publication OR a major achievement should be completed.
- You can see your profile is invalid by clicking on the "See details" button in the left-hand panel.
How many languages can I enter?
There is a maximum of 8 languages which can be completed.
How can I print all the data I have entered?
On the left side of the bottom bar, click on the 'Print Profile' button. All the data you completed will be displayed and at the bottom of the page, click on the 'Print this page' button.
How does the "Area of expertise" section work?
In the "Area of expertise" section, there are three different sub-sections to be completed: Specialist Field, Pre-defined Themes and Open Keywords .
The principle for selecting items is the same for the specialist fields and pre-defined themes. In order to select the corresponding field/theme, you can:
1. Expand the tree to find a specialist field that corresponds to your profile. Click on the 'Select' button on the right side of the selected field. The selected field/theme will then appear on the left side panel. In order to save your selection, click on the 'Save' button.
2. Enter search criteria in the 'Search' box. After a few seconds, all specialist fields and sub-fields containing your search word(s) will appear below the search box. A down-arrow symbol beside the field indicates that the field has sub-fields which you can access by clicking the down-arrow. The field and respective sub-fields are displayed in a black box. Click the 'Select' button beside the relevant specialist field. The selected field/theme will then appear on the left side panel. In order to save your selection, click on the 'Save' button.
For the specialist fields, at least one should be selected for your profile to be valid.
For the pre-defined themes, at least two should be selected for your profile to be valid.
Specialist fields and pre-defined themes should be selected at the appropriate level on the tree. If you only have one pre-defined theme that you wish to select, you may also select the corresponding parent field. For example, if you have selected 'Literary translation' within the Creative Europe programme, you may also select its parent field 'Culture'. This ensures that you meet the mandatory requirement of selecting at least two pre-defined themes. Likewise if you have selected 'EU Aid Volunteers' within the EU Aid Volunteers programme, you may also select its parent field 'EACEA - EU Aid Volunteers'.
EACEA candidates who have indicated that they wish to be considered for more than one EACEA programme are reminded to make sure that they select specialist fields and pre-defined themes for each of their selected programmes.
Finally, the Open Keywords screen, allows you to introduce free text in the text box provided and enter this by clicking on the 'Add keyword/phrase' button. Each word/phrase should be entered separately by clicking on 'Add keyword/phrase'.
For the open keywords, at least three should be selected for your profile to be valid.
I would like to apply to be selected as an expert in a field which is not specified in the specialist fields or pre-defined themes. What should I do?
You may enter your expertise in the 'open keywords' tab. There you can enter any keywords that best describe your expertise (max 2000 characters).
Please note that each word/phrase should be entered separately by clicking on 'Add keyword/phrase' button.
I am already registered as an expert for Horizon 2020/other EU programmes. Do I need to register again as an expert for the EACEA programme(s)?
The forms are common for experts for all programmes so you don't need to register again. However, you need to add the EACEA programme(s) to your existing profile. This involves updating certain sections of the profile:
- Programme Selection: indicate the EACEA programme(s) you wish to be considered for.
- Area of expertise section: add the specialist fields, pre-defined themes and open keywords that reflect the expertise you have in your selected EACEA programme(s).
- Professional Experience / Experience in field: there is an additional question to be completed on whether you have previously assisted the European Commission with its EACEA programme(s).
- Professional Experience / Employment History: select an 'organisation type' which is specific to the EACEA programme. Organisation types should be selected from both the Horizon 2020 and EACEA lists and hence, the use of the category 'others' may be required for either Horizon 2020 or EACEA.
I am already registered as an expert for the research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. Do I need to register again as an expert for the COSME / CEF / RFCS / Third Health programme(s)?
The forms are common for experts for all programmes so you don't need to register again. However, you need to add the COSME/CEF/RFCS/Third Health programme(s) to your existing profile by ticking the box corresponding to the programme(s) you wish to be considered for in the 'programme selection' screen.
When do I receive an acknowledgement of my registration?
You will receive an initial acknowledgement by email once you start creating your profile. This will include your candidature number which should be kept for future correspondence with the European Commission.
This does not mean that your profile is valid. In order to validate your profile for potential assignments, please review, update and complete all sections with the help of the wizard navigation. Once your profile is valid, a pop-up message on the screen will confirm this. In addition, you will receive an email confirming that your profile is valid.
When receiving my candidature number, what should I do with it?
It is important to keep a record of your candidature number. It is recommended to mention your candidature number in every email exchange with the IT helpdesk and in all communication with the European Commission in matters regarding your candidature as an expert.
I have lost my candidature number.What can I do?
You can find your candidature number by logging on with your ECAS account to the Expert area in the Participant Portal:
Once connected, you will find your candidature number on the top left of the screen under your name. It is a number starting with EX20XXX...
I have completed my registration. What happens next?
Once your profile is valid, a pop-up message on the screen will confirm this. In addition, you will receive an email confirming that your profile is valid.
You will be contacted directly if you are selected to take part in any particular activity. The selection of experts depends on each European Commission Directorate-General, Agency or other body which selects experts according to their needs and in accordance with the privacy statement.
Can I update my profile?
You can update your profile at any time by adding or changing any information. Please make sure to save all changes correctly in order for your profile to appear as valid. In case it appears as invalid, click on the "See details" button in the left-hand panel to see what is missing.
How can I change my email address?
Your email address in the Expert Area in the Participant Portal is linked with the email address of your ECAS account.
If you want to change the registered email address, you have to change the email address of your ECAS account.
In order for you to change your ECAS email address please do as follows:
- On the login screen enter your username and password, click on "more options" and select the 3rd one "View my ECAS account details after logging me in". Then click "Login".
- On the second page, click on your username on the top right. Then click on "Modify my personal data".
- Change your email address. A confirmation e-mail will be sent to the new address. Follow the instructions in the e-mail to validate it.
- Close your browser. Connect again to the Participant Portal and log in with your new email address. The email address in your personal details has been changed automatically.
How long do I have before a session times out?
If you are logged into the Expert area in the Participant Portal and do not press any buttons for 20 minutes, your session will expire and you will be asked to log-in again. Note that changes made will only be saved from the last time you clicked on save.
Which web browser can I use?
You can use Firefox and Internet Explorer (versions 6 to 8) on Windows. Other browsers and operating systems may also work with the application.
Which bookmark should I use for the Expert area in the Participant Portal?
For security reasons, you must log in with your ECAS password every time you access your profile.
Experts wishing to take part in EU programmes: Horizon 2020 (research and innovation programme) (), COSME, CEF, RFCS or Third Health Programme should bookmark this URL:
Experts wishing to take part in Education, Audiovisual and Culture programmes should bookmark this URL:
How can I log out?
If you close your browser, you will still be logged in the Experts area on the Participant Portal. You can log-out from the application by clicking on the blue button with your name and choosing Logout from the drop-down menu.
Who can be an expert?
You have a chance of being selected as an expert if you:
- have a high level expertise in the domains of the respective programmes
- can be available for occasional, short-term assignments and
- have completed and validated the registration of your profile in the online platform.
Horizon 2020 covers a whole range of activities in the fields of science and technology, innovation, social sciences and humanities, ethics, gender, communication, project management and more.
The call for experts, published on 22 November 2013, is open to those of any nationality with a high level of expertise in the relevant fields of research and innovation. Further details on the type of expertise sought are set out in the full text of the call published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Is there any remuneration provided for experts?
a. For all experts except those for the EACEA programmes:
As an expert you are entitled to a fee of EUR 450 for each full day actually worked and to the reimbursement of travel expenses (to and from the point of departure and to and from the place of meeting) and subsistence expenses.
If selected to work as an expert, you will receive a contract through the electronic system on the Participant Portal for research and innovation programme or on the EACEA web site for their programme. The contract defines all the rights and obligations and terms and conditions that apply. The contract does not constitute an employment agreement. Any payment received as an expert is not exempted from national taxes and you are obliged to ensure compliance with national legislation on taxes and social security law.
b. For EACEA programmes:
Explanatory annexes on payment and reimbursement are published together with the new call for expression of interest for experts accessible from the EACEA web page, call for experts.
What is the amount of work requested from an expert?
Evaluations usually take place in the context of short sessions lasting a maximum of around 10 days a year. These may be carried out remotely (i.e. at the evaluator's home or place of work) and/or in Brussels - or Luxembourg for some innovation actions.
The number of proposals which an expert deals with depends very much on each area.
When shall I know if I have been selected to assist the European Commission as an expert?
If you have fully completed your registration as an expert and your profile is valid, the European Commission will inform you in due course if you have been selected. This will be on the condition that there are proposals for evaluation or projects for monitoring requiring your particular expertise. This could be at any time during the duration of the framework programme (i.e. up to the end of 2020). Assistance in the monitoring of projects may also be requested as long as there are still on-going projects funded by the framework programme. Similarly, assistance in evaluating the progress, outcome and impact of programmes/giving advice on the shape of future activities may be requested after the end of the framework programme.
If I register in the database, does it mean that I will be appointed as an expert?
Registration as an expert in the experts' database does not guarantee automatic selection.
The selection, which is made by the Commission services, not only depends on the skills of an individual expert but also on the Commission's requirement to match these skills to the proposals received or projects to monitor. All applicants who complete their application are entered into the database, but this does not mean that they will necessarily be used. The Commission will need thousands of experts during H2020 for example, but it is clear that there will be a number of persons having applied who will never be contacted.
What is the difference between the various types of expert assignments?
Evaluation work requires experts to examine (i.e. peer review) proposals for funding against published criteria and provide scores, comments and recommendations to the Commission.
Monitoring work involves assisting the Commission's project officers by supervising the progress of on-going projects or actions already funded by the European Commission.
Preparation, implementation or evaluation of programmes and design of policies work involves assisting the Commission with the monitoring and follow-up of programmes, i.e. their work is much less concerned with the technical issues of individual proposals and projects but with assessing the implementation and results of a whole programme of activities at a more strategic level.
How do I register as an expert for the advisory groups?
Experts from all relevant fields who are interested in participating in shaping the agenda of Horizon 2020 through the work of the advisory groups are invited to register through the Expert Area of the Participant Portal. Details of the Horizon 2020 advisory groups are available on the Horizon 2020 website.
Is the call for experts published on 24 January 2013 for the set-up of the first Horizon 2020 advisory groups now closed?
The call for all types of experts for Horizon 2020, published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 22 November 2013 (OJ C342) replaces the call published on 24 January 2013 for the first Horizon 2020 advisory groups. Experts who already submitted their application in response to the initial call are still eligible for selection by the Commission services for the replacement of resigning experts and the renewal of the advisory groups at the end of each mandate.
If I already submitted my application in response to the call launched on 24 January 2013, do I need to register again through the Expert Area of the Participant Portal to be considered as an expert for Horizon 2020 advisory groups?
No, for the replacement of resigning experts and the renewal of the advisory groups at the end of each mandate, the Commission services will also draw from the database of experts who already submitted their application in response to the call on 24 January 2013.
I have applied in order to be selected as an expert. Do I have the right at the same time to submit a proposal?
When contracted as an expert, you are asked to sign a declaration stating exactly which proposals you have a link with and which may create a conflict of interest. You also undertake to inform the Commission should you have a conflict of interest with any proposal you are asked to examine. The European Commission takes all the necessary steps in order to avoid any conflicts of interest. While you could not be an evaluator of your own proposal or of proposals competing with it, you could be an evaluator of other proposals not competing with yours.
Can a person coming from a third country apply to be an expert?
A person coming from a third country (i.e. a country that is not a Member State, Candidate Country or Horizon 2020 Associated Country) is welcome to register their profile in the expert database with a view to assisting the European Commission as an expert.
If I am selected, can I subsequently refuse to work for the Commission for whatever reason?
It is always possible to decline an invitation to act as an expert. Obviously, it is best if this is done as early as possible. The Commission will usually contact experts before sending a formal contract, so it is possible to decline the invitation at this stage. If you receive a contract and for some reason you are not able to attend during some or all of the days proposed for the evaluation, you must inform the Commission's services immediately. Evidently, an expert must always refuse to evaluate a proposal or monitor a project if you feel that there would be a conflict of interest in doing so.
What are the language skills required of an expert?
Experts are expected to have language skills appropriate for reading and understanding the proposals and/or project reports in the language in which they are submitted. In reality, this means that a good knowledge of English is absolutely essential and a good knowledge of other European languages is welcome.
Can I register if I am retired?
Yes, you can register as an expert even if you are retired.
What do I need to tell my current employer in the case that I am selected?
It is your responsibility to inform your employer should you be selected for an assignment as an expert and follow any procedures put in place by your employer.
You should of course be attentive to any conflict of interest with respect to your activities as an expert and should this arise, report this immediately to the contracting party.
Contracting and Payment
If I am selected for an assignment, how will I be informed?
If selected for an assignment, you will first be contacted by the European Commission service to check your availability. Once your selection is confirmed, you will receive an email requesting you to provide your identity and financial details. This is necessary in order to issue you with a contract.
The process is entirely electronic via the Expert Area in the Participant Portal. You will receive email notifications for each step of the process.
Which document do I need to provide to prove my identity?
You need to complete your identity details directly in the Expert Area in the Participant Portal which is accessible from the link indicated in the email notification you will receive or if you received such a notification, by logging-in to the Expert Area in the Participant Portal.
In addition, you will need to upload a scan of a document proving your identity (ID card or passport preferably or in certain countries which don't have an ID card, a driving license may be accepted).
Which document do I need to provide to prove existence of my bank account?
You need to complete your bank account details directly in the Expert Area in the Participant Portal which is accessible from the link provided in the email you will receive or if you received such a notification, by logging-in to the Expert Area in the Participant Portal.
Eligible supporting documents are either a bank statement indicating the bank name, account name and number/IBAN (if applicable) or, a financial identification form, stamped, dated and signed by a bank representative.
How do I sign my contract electronically?
The electronic signature replaces the traditional blue ink signature. You will receive an email notification informing you that a contract has been sent to you by the Commission for your signature which is accessible from the link provided in the email you will receive or if you received such a notification, by logging-in to the Expert Area in the Participant Portal.
Prior to signing your contract, you will be presented with a screen inviting you to make some declarations. Firstly, to confirm that your point of departure to the meeting place is the address indicated in the contract (your official address) or request a change in your point of departure for the assignment in question. Secondly, to declare whether or not you have any conflict of interest. Finally, you will declare that you accept the terms of the code of conduct (Annex 1 of the contract). Once you have filled in all the sections of this screen, you can proceed to the signature itself.
To sign the contract, you will simply have to enter your personal ECAS password.
You will then be directed back to the Participant Portal where you will see that the signature status on the left-hand side has changed to signed and the ‘proceed to sign' button becomes inactive.
An electronic seal will be displayed at the end of your contract once it has been signed by both parties and you will be notified once it's accessible to you in the Participant Portal.
How will I be paid for my work as an expert?
On the day you are due to commence work, you will receive an email notifying you that you can start to draft your payment request (claim). On the morning after your work has been completed, you will be notified that you can now submit your payment request.
How do I prepare my payment request (claim)?
First, you have to choose the bank account on which you wish to be paid. Then you fill in the number of days worked remotely and on-site and whether you wish to claim daily and accommodation allowances.
If you have travelled to the meeting place, for each part of the journey, you enter the amount of the expenses incurred and upload scanned copies of the documents related to your journey (e.g. for a flight, the invoice, itinerary and boarding passes).
What types of Eurostar train tickets are reimbursed?
Only Standard and Standard Premier fares are fully reimbursed. Reimbursement of travel in Business Premier will be capped at the level of Standard Premier.
How long does it take to be paid for my work as an expert?
Once you submit your payment request, and assuming that the information is complete, you will be paid within 30 days. Once the payment has been made, you will be notified by email and provided with a statement outlining the details of the payment.
How can I contact the IT helpdesk?
Choose as 'Domain': Expert registration. Please include your candidature number in all email exchanges (if you already have one).
What is the RSS format?
RSS is a data presentation format facilitating the automated broadcast of information streams to Internet users. It also facilitates the syndication of content by giving other web sites the opportunity to reproduce such data, in full or in part, with ease.
With the RSS format there is no need to visit your favourite sites one by one to receive news from them; all you have to do is enter their RSS information stream into a compatible program and all your news sources will appear on a single screen!
In this way, by receiving Research Participant Portal information streams you can read the latest news published on our site on your computer screen without even having to visit our homepage.
How to access RSS feeds?
There are several ways to receive information streams published by Research Participant Portal on your computer.
You can :
- use your e-mail application to consult this information source while reading your e-mails
- use your Internet browser to display the various newsfeeds in the form of a homepage
- use specialist RSS information stream aggregation software, known as an RSS reader or news aggregator
- or even read information streams on your smartphone, PDA or pocket PC connected via Bluetooth to a GRPS mobile phone.
Indeed, most sites broadcasting information streams display a small icon on their RSS or XML pages. By clicking on the icon, your software application will recognise the information stream automatically and add it to your content aggregation list.
What do they look like?
For a first look at a newsfeed, without installing anything on your computer, you can use an online RSS reader which can read any RSS feed. Open a new window in your browser and enter one of the following URLs in the address field:
How can I read RSS feeds?
RSS feeds, on this site, are indicated by orange icons next to the title of a specific RSS feed.
Clicking the icon will take you to a page that describes the feed in greater detail. From there you can click a link to open the feed window. Copy and paste its URL into your newsreader to subscribe.
Some browsers including Internet Explorer 7+, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome, automatically support RSS and do not require you to paste the feed URL into a separate reader.
If you have difficulties subscribing to a feed, please refer to the instructions that come with your reader.
When new content is published, you can use the reader to scan headlines and click through to our web site to view the full version of the article or feature.
How do I get a newsreader?
There are many different versions of newsreaders, some accessed using a browser and some which are downloadable applications. Deciding which one to use is a matter of personal choice. Different readers work on different operating systems, so you will need to choose one that will work with your computer.
Below is a list of popular readers that you may wish to use:
How do I unsubscribe from an RSS feed?
Please refer to the instructions that come with your browser or newsreader if you would like to unsubscribe from an RSS feed.
Content contained in Research Participant Portal RSS feeds can be added to websites in a number of different ways. Each method for displaying the RSS feed has pros and cons associated with it. Webmasters will need to determine which option will best meet their hosting and technology needs.
Feedroll is a free service for syndicating RSS and ATOM news feeds on your website. Simply select a feed, customize the design, then copy and paste the code provided onto your page - Feedroll
Using PHP to Display RSS :
The rss2html.php script allows users to create webpages that will always display the most current information from the RSS feed, and because the resulting page is pure HTML, it will be in a search engine robots-friendly format. Using rss2html.php, webmasters can customize the format and look of the webpage created from the feed. The RSS feed's contents can easily be integrated into an existing website's theme. The rss2html.php script parses the RSS file, extracts the pertinent information, formats it, and serves it up as regular HTML - Feedforall
Using ASP to Display RSS :
ASP is similar to PHP. The free ASP/ASP.NET scripts can be used to convert RSS feeds into HTML and display on ASP/ASP.NET web-server.
ByteScout has implemented a guide for displaying RSS/XML feeds using free RSS2HTML.ASP script in an ASP or ASP.NET environment. This script can be used free of charge on any ASP or ASP.NET webserver and generate HTML from RSS feeds. This free ASP script uses MSXML to load RSS feeds from a URL and display it. You can either use it as a standalone or call it from a script on an HTML page to generate HTML contents from RSS feeds and then display them on your HTML page - Bytescout
RssFeed is an open-source custom ASP.NET server control that displays the contents of a specified RSS feed in an ASP.NET webpage - RssFeed
If PHP or ASP is used to update feeds, the website will have free fresh and relevant content each time the feeds referenced are updated.
Export RSS to HTML :
If you wish to dress up the feed's appearance you can use a template exporting the feed as HTML or as an HTML table. Publishers can incorporate exported tables into an HTML template using a server-side include. Each time the feed is updated, the feed will need to be exported to HTML and uploaded along with the feed. Though this only takes a few moments, exporting RSS to HTML does require webmaster intervention to update the content. The end result, though, is a complete webpage with an RSS feed in it that will be search engine-friendly.
FeedForAll allows users to export RSS feeds from RSS to HTML. The look of the HTML can be modified to match an existing website's design - Feedforall
Using Services :
There are a number of services available that host and display RSS feeds, in many cases free of charge. Because these services operate on a different domain server there is little benefit to endusers displaying their feeds in this fashion. That said, the services are generally free of charge, so you get what you pay for.
Select a layout and a color scheme then enter the URL of the feed. A web page URL will be generated that will display the feed in the selected scheme - RSS2hTML
FeedBurner provides a number of online services. Among them is a service that displays RSS feeds on a website - Feedburner
Using XSL to Display RSS :
Although using XSL and CSS stylesheets to display XML directly is easy to understand in theory, it is rather tricky to implement in the real world and is very tough for beginners to use successfully. Webmasters must be fairly familiar with CSS and XSL to have the formatting work well, and webmasters then have to address browser incompatibilities and exceptions. As a result, not a lot of resources or services yet exist to display RSS using XSL.
Using highly targeted feeds, webmasters can enhance their websites with themed content. Ultimately, providing relevant, educational or newsworthy information from reputable related sources will establish expertise in a specific area.
Research Participant Portal RSS feeds
Choose your feed:
What is iCalendar?
iCalendar is a computer file format which allows Internet users to send meeting requests and tasks to other Internet users, via email, or sharing files with an extension of .ics. Recipients of the iCalendar data file (with supporting software, such as an email client or calendar application) can respond to the sender easily or counter propose another meeting date/time.
iCalendar is used and supported by a large number of products, including Google Calendar, Apple iCal, GoDaddy Online Group Calendar, IBM Lotus Notes, Yahoo! Calendar, Evolution (software), Lightning extension for Mozilla Thunderbird and SeaMonkey, and partially by Microsoft Outlook.
How to subscribe?
Google Calendar :
To add a calendar using iCal address, follow these steps:
- Click the down-arrow next to Other calendars
- Select Add by URL from the menu
- Find the address of the Google Calendar in iCalendar format, or you can use as well the iCalendar address of a calendar from a different application (for example, Apple's iCal) if you have it.
- Enter the address in the field provided
- Click the Add Calendar button. The calendar will appear in the Other Calendars section of the calendar list to the left.
To add a calendar using iCal address, follow these steps:
- In the menu, select "File," and then "Data File Management"
- Select the "Internet Calendars" tab
- Click "New", and then paste the iCal URL into the field.
To add a calendar using iCal address, follow these steps:
- From the Calendar view, select 'Open Calendar' from the Manage Calendars group, and then select 'From internet'.
- In the pop-up window enter the url of the iCal page (found below as 'iCalendar for FP7 Calls'). Click on 'OK'.
- In Outlook 2010 you will now have a new 'FP7 Calls' calendar which includes the current FP7 calls information at the time of import.
Research Participant Portal iCalendars
- ELIGIBILITY AND TYPE OF SMES TARGETED
- Who can apply? Only a single for-profit SME1 or a consortium of for-profit SMEs can apply for funding under the SME Instrument. All applicants need to be legally established in the ,EU-28 or in a country associated to Horizon 2020. Other partners, such as research providers or larger companies, can be involved as third parties, usually in a subcontracting relationship, and do not need to be established necessarily in the EU or countries associated to Horizon 2020. (1) 'For-profit SMEs' means micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, as defined in Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC, that are not 'non-profit legal entities' as defined in Article 2 of the Rules for Participation and Dissemination ('legal entity which by its legal form is non-profit-making or which has a legal or statutory obligation not to distribute profits to its shareholders or individual members').
- Can I apply as a single entity? If you are a for-profit SME established in the EU or a country associated to Horizon 2020, yes.
- Is it better to apply as a single entity or as a consortium? There is no best option. It is up to you to define how the project could be better implemented in function of many different factors. Without being comprehensive, the differences between a single company application and a consortia lie in elements like project ownership and responsibility, IPR arrangements, but also financial viability, and not only in the distribution of tasks.
- What type of SME is targeted by the SME Instrument? The European Commission is looking for highly innovative firms - based in the EU-28 or in countries associated to Horizon 2020 - that are ambitious and have the potential to develop, grow and have a European or international impact. It is advisable that the SME has, and can demonstrate, a good knowledge and experience in the markets it intends to master. The European Commission is interested in companies which follow a development strategy that pursues breakthrough innovation and/or the potential to disrupt existing markets.
- How do I check if I'm an SME? Please refer to the EU definition of an SME. If you're still not sure, please check the EU extensive user guide. In addition, the Horizon 2020 Beneficiary Register - available via the Participant Portal - includes an SME self-assessment test.
- How do I register as an SME and what documents do I need to send you? You must not send any documents. Only after registering their organisations can SMEs start applying for funding under the SME Instrument. Companies must complete an online questionnaire if they want to register as an SME in the Beneficiary Register of the Participant Portal. SMEs will be asked for a self-assessment of their SME status through this web-based questionnaire. If a company disagrees with the outcome of the questionnaire, it can request manual verification: in that case, the validation service will request all necessary documents for assessment.
- How do I initiate the SME self-assessment process in the Beneficiary Register of the Participant Portal? The SME self-assessment questionnaire is part of registering your organisation as an SME in the Beneficiary Register, after which you will receive your Participant Identification Code (PIC). Once you have completed the first part of your PIC registration process, you will be given the option to choose a specific programme. Proceed by selecting Research and Innovation Programme from the drop down list. You will subsequently be asked whether you want to declare your organisation as SME. The SME self-assessment wizard will then run you through the rest of the process. Note: Please make sure you have all required financial accounts readily available when you start the SME self-assessment. A user guide is available here.
- Is it possible for a start-up (without balance sheet) to apply? Start-ups are not excluded. However, the SME Instrument is not designed to be a company creation vehicle, but to support the growth of companies with innovative ideas with European or global commercialisation potential.
- Can SMEs from non-EU countries participate? Only applications from a single SME or a consortium of SMEs that are all established in EU Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020 are eligible for funding. However, SMEs established in other countries can be involved as third parties, for example in a subcontracting relationship.
- Is there a limit to the number of SME Instrument applications or projects that I can make or take part in at the same time? Yes. You can only make one submission or take part in one implementation concerning a Phase 1 or Phase 2 project at any one time, be it as a single applicant, a lead applicant or as a partner in an SME consortium. To be precise: if the applicant or any member of the consortium has already submitted another application for SME Instrument Phase 1 or Phase 2 funding, it is not possible to submit a further proposal until an applicant receives the information that the submitted proposal will not be funded. If a proposal has been accepted for funding, and for the duration of the project concerned, it is also not possible to submit a further proposal, since it would be ineligible.
- Does this mean that I cannot submit a proposal for Phase 1 if I am already a partner in a Phase 2 project? Yes.
- But could I however submit a proposal to the SME Instrument and at the same time to another (not SME Instrument-related) topic of Horizon 2020 or other EU programme? Yes.
- Does the SME instrument have its own specific grant agreement or does it follow the Model General Grant Agreement? SME Instrument Phase 1 and SME Instrument Phase 2 each have their own specific Grant Agreements (see specific SME Instrument Phase 1 Grant Agreement and specific SME Instrument Phase 2 Grant Agreement and annotated Model Grant Agreements for both). In exceptional cases, defined in the Work Programme2 , whenever the funding rate can be up to 100%, the General Model Grant Agreement applies for Phase 2 instead of the specific SME Instrument Phase 2 Grant Agreement. (2) In the 2014-2015 Work Programme, this applies for the SME Instrument Phase 2 call topic 'PHC-12-2014 Clinical validation of biomarkers and/or diagnostic medical devices'.
- PREPARING YOUR APPLICATION AND SUBMITTING YOUR PROPOSAL
- How do I start? A good first step is to contact the closest SME National Contact Point or Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) partner, that are entitled to provide SMEs free-of-charge info and guidance on Horizon 2020 (including the SME instrument) and other EU programmes, among other services.
- Where can I find information online? Visit the online SME Participation information page.
- How do I decide which topic best fits my proposal? Read the topic descriptions for the SME Instrument on the Participant Portal, and work out where the centre of gravity of your proposal lies, and match it with a topic. Your Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) representative or your National Contact Point can help.
- Is there a template for applications/proposals to Phase 1 and Phase 2? Yes, there are specific templates for SME Instrument applications (Phase 1 and Phase 2). They can be found with each of the SME Instrument call topics.
- Can I delete the comments and guidance notes in the application template in order to have more space available for my application? Yes.
- Can I apply directly to Phase 2? Yes, however we encourage you to start from Phase 1. Phase 1 supports an SME or SMEs to assess all aspects, including the commercial potential, of an innovation project that could become crucial for the development and/or consolidation of a strategy to enhance competitiveness and to grow. Phase 1 is not mandatory, but recommended so as to be able to present a well-substantiated proposal for Phase 2. Phase 1 projects are short, around six months or even less, and leaner in project administration than Phase 2 projects. The time-to-grant for Phase 1 projects is 3 months.
- Is there a template for applications to Phase 3? No. Only SMEs already participating in previous phases might benefit from Phase 3.
- Are there guidelines describing or illustrating what is expected in the application for the three phases of the SME Instrument? We suggest you review the SME Instrument section in the H2020 Online Manual. You can refer also to the specific proposal templates for the SME Instrument (available via the Participant Portal), and to part D of the General Annexes to the Work Programme. Phase 3 does not provide direct funding. It offers a range of services in support to go-to-market and access to finance, in particular via the financial facilities supported under Horizon 2020 and Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) programmes.
- What does the European Commission mean by the terms "business plan" and "elaborated business plan"? General business practices apply. The proposal templates for both Phase 1 and Phase 2 give guidelines on what minimum information is required: see, in particular, the section on 'impact'.
- Are the 10-page application for Phase 1 and the "business innovation plan 1" the same thing? Yes. Part B of the Phase 1 proposal can be considered an initial business plan. Part A contains the administrative forms.
- Are there guidelines describing the technological readiness of prototypes, in order to help me to position my proposal? Please see the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) sequencer in the General Annex G of the Work Programme. The SME Instrument is explicitly targeted at applicants presenting innovation projects that have reached TRL 6 as a minimum (or equivalent for non-technological innovations). As a rule of thumb, this means that the proposed activities should take place in an operational or production environment.
- Can research and development activities be supported? The core should be innovation activities a TRL level of 6 or higher (or equivalent for non-technological innovations). However, some parts of the activities conducted may include some research and development.
How developed should my business model be at submission stage?
It depends on which Phase you are applying to:
- A Phase 1 proposal must include an initial business plan describing, among other things, the underlying business model.
- A Phase 2 proposal must be based on a feasibility assessment and contain an elaborated business plan, either developed through SME instrument Phase 1 support or by other means.
- When preparing a proposal for Phase 2, what does 'market replication' in the submission template mean? SME Instrument support is directed towards companies that maximize their impact and mobilize wide market uptake of their innovation(s), helping them reach a critical mass and self-sufficiency during the project and in the short/medium term. A clear business and exploitation strategy should be building blocks for every proposal. The challenge for SME instrument applicants in terms of market replication is to find ways to encourage the uptake of their innovation on a broader scale during their project or shortly after.
- Is Phase 3 obligatory? If my company does not wish to proceed to Phase 3, do I have to prepare an elaborate business plan? Phase 3 is not obligatory. Given the end goal of the SME instrument, which is delivering innovation onto the market, and the ambitions of successful applicants - which are commercial success and growth - the preparation of an elaborate business plan is self-evident.
- Can I submit a pre-proposal for a check? No. Please contact a National Contact Point or an Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) partner for some facilitative guidance.
- When I have submitted a proposal, can I improve it and submit a new version before the next cut-off date? No, once submitted a proposal cannot be reworked before it has been evaluated. Once the applicant has received feedback from evaluation, he is free to rework his proposal and submit a modified version, even before the next cut-off date if time allows.
- If I submit a proposal and it is rejected after the cut-off date, can I resubmit it again? You can re-apply as soon as you receive a rejection. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend to work on the innovation strategy of your company and to improve the proposed business case before resubmitting. You would be well advised to consult a National Contact Point or an Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) partner before any re-submission.
- When should I submit my application (Phase 1 or Phase2)? You can submit your application for Phase 1 or Phase 2 at any time. Each application is sent to evaluation immediately after submission. The SME Instrument call is permanently open with - in general - four cut-off dates per year. Applications can be submitted at any time. In the interest of fast evaluation and turnaround, applicants are encouraged to submit their proposal as long as possible before cut-off dates.
- EVALUATION OF YOUR PROPOSAL
- Our concept would be of great interest to our market competitors. How are you ensuring confidentiality in both the evaluation process and in Phase 1? Expert evaluators, Agency and European Commission staff are bound by a confidentiality agreement and will incur serious sanctions in case of violations. European Commission and Agency services will verify that no conflicts of interest could occur before a proposal is allocated to experts for evaluation. Furthermore, applicants are entitled to name three individual experts that will not be allowed to see and evaluate the submitted proposal. Project outputs will be classified by different confidentiality levels up to publishable results.
- How do the evaluation criteria reflect market ambitions and innovativeness? The main evaluation criterion is 'impact', which has a weighting of 1.5 for proposals above threshold; it looks at the likely economic impact of the company a few years down the line. The 'excellence' criterion focuses on the quality and specifically the breakthrough nature of the innovation. For further information please consult the self-evaluation form on the Participant Portal.
- FEEDBACK ON YOUR PROPOSAL
- How long will it take before I receive feedback from evaluation after having submitted my proposal? We aim to inform you within about 4 weeks after submission whether or not your application met all the necessary thresholds in order to be considered fundable. However, we can only tell you if it will be funded after the relevant cut-off date (which occurs every three months). This is because decisions on funding are taken after ranking the whole batch of proposals submitted before or on the periodic date concerned.
- Will I know the result of my application earlier if I submit it earlier? Yes, though only up to a point. Your proposal will be evaluated a short time after you submit it, and we will tell you whether or not it has passed the minimum quality threshold. However, as mentioned in the previous question, we can only tell you if it will be funded after the relevant cut-off date.
- FUNDING AND FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION
What financial validation is required in order for my proposal to be funded in Phase 1 and Phase 2?
For single applicants/participants:
Single applicants or participants are exempt from a financial viability check. However, they must formally declare that they have the financial capacity to carry out the proposed action.
For coordinators of SME consortia:
- In Phase 1, project coordinators must self-check their financial viability using the tool available via the Participant Portal.
- In Phase 2, project coordinators receiving a grant of EUR 500 000 or more must undergo a financial viability check, in line with the specifications in the Horizon 2020 online manual published on the Participant Portal.
- Where should additional funding come from for covering the 30% gap in Phase 1 and Phase 2? It must come from the participating SME(s), which can draw funding from different sources, e.g. own resources, private investment, etc. Please note that double EU funding for the same project is prohibited. PHASE 1
- If there is more than one SME participating, will the lump sum (EUR 50 000) be multiplied by the number of participants? No. Only one grant in the form of a lump sum of EUR 50 000 will be awarded per selected proposal, which means that this lump sum needs to be shared amongst consortium partners.
- How does the lump sum funding relate to the 70% co-financing rule? The lump sum for Phase 1 was established by the European Commission after a statistical analysis3 . The total eligible cost for a Phase 1 project is fixed at EUR 71 249. Applying the co-financing rate of 70%, the amount of the grant is established at EUR 50 000. (3) See Commission Decision C(2013)8198: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/legal/unit_costs/unit-costs_sme-ph1_en.pdf
- Is there an advance payment of grant money? Yes. For Phase 1, there will be an advance payment of 40% of the lump sum of EUR 50 000. However, the guarantee fund will retain 5% of the total amount of the grant.
- Is a standard budget breakdown needed with the proposal submission? Detailed cost declarations by applicants are not necessary. There is a standard budget table provided in the specific template for the technical annex for Phase 1 proposals, which must be used. The description of work (feasibility study) in the application must demonstrate that the envisaged work corresponds to the total eligible costs.
- Do I need to specify several work-packages in my Phase 1 proposal? No. As no budget breakdown is required in the usual sense, only one work-package needs to be defined.
- To what extent is sub-contracting allowed for the completion of aspects of the feasibility study? Sub-contracting is possible, but must be justified. Work can be subcontracted to operators in line with the 'best-value-for-money'-principle and provided there are no conflicts of interest.
- Are the costs of consultants considered as eligible costs? If you need help to, for example, analyse IPR issues, assess the market potential or develop an innovation strategy, the Phase 1 grant can be used to hire a consultant to do so, and the costs will be considered as eligible costs.
- How will the feasibility study be approved at the end of Phase 1? The aim of Phase 1 is to assess whether the business idea is achievable or not. In case the lump sum was not used for this purpose, the feasibility study will not be accepted.
- What happens if the project stops after Phase 1 has been completed? It is an acceptable outcome of the feasibility assessment in Phase 1 to stop the project if the technological and/or commercial viability of the innovation could not be demonstrated. The lump sum will be paid for a completed feasibility study if the reporting obligations are fulfilled and tasks have been carried out as described in Annex I of the grant agreement. The lump sum will not be granted if only part of the tasks have been carried out. PHASE 2
- Is there a minimum budget to apply for funding? No. The Commission considers that proposals requesting an EU contribution of between EUR 500 000 and 2.5 million would allow Phase 2 to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts
- Will there be a financial viability check if my company applies to Phase 2? Single applicants or participants are exempt. Even a company with a potentially weak financial viability can apply for and receive a Phase 2 grant. However, less pre-financing will be paid and more intermediate deadlines will be set in order to ensure the work remains on track. In case of a consortium, a financially weak company cannot be the coordinator.
- What Phase 2 pre-financing is actually envisaged in normal circumstances? About 50% of the whole Phase 2 grant. However, financially weak companies with large grants are likely to see their pre-financing decreased and/or more reporting deadlines introduced.
- Is a bank guarantee required? No.
- Are different funding models possible for different partners or tasks? The same funding model will apply for Phase 2, whatever the tasks and whoever the partners are. It generally covers 70% of the eligible costs. In exceptional cases, defined in the Work Programme4 , the funding rate can be up to 100%. (4) For instance, the SME Instrument Phase 2 call topic 'Clinical validation of biomarkers and/or diagnostic medical devices' (in Societal Challenge 1: Health, demographic change and wellbeing) in the Horizon 2020 2014-2015 Work Programme.
- How do I declare the costs of a Phase 2 project? The general Horizon 2020 financial rules apply.
- What are eligible direct costs (partly) covered by SME Instrument funding? Direct costs related to the implementation of the project, such as personnel costs, travel, equipment, infrastructure, goods and services. Please refer to article 6 of the (mono-beneficiary or multi-beneficiary) model grant agreement for full details. In general, costs are eligible if they correspond to the tasks agreed upon in the grant agreement. Costs are ineligible if this is not the case, or if they are reimbursed under another funding scheme.
- Are marketing costs considered as eligible direct costs? If communication and interaction activities with potential investors or customers, or dissemination of milestone achievements during the project (under a work-package 'communication activities') are necessary to implement the project, then those costs are eligible. Activities or products purely intended to support commercial or merchandising purposes do not qualify as eligible costs.
- What rules apply to subcontracting? Work can be subcontracted to operators in line with the 'best-value-for-money'-principle, and provided there are no conflicts of interest. For Phase 2, subcontracting is not restricted to a limited part of the action. However, for very high subcontracting levels in a Phase 2 project, the motivation or the capacity of the participant to carry out the action could be subject to doubt and would have to be very well justified. For Phase 2 proposals, experts assess the 'best value for money' of subcontracts separately during the evaluation process. For this reason, subcontracts that are part of the proposal and have been positively assessed cannot be put into question afterwards (see subcontracting clauses in annotated specific SME Instrument Phase 2 Model Grant Agreement). For subcontracting related to clinical trials, please refer to the 'FAQ' and the 'Essential information for clinical studies' documents for Societal Challenge 1: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/opportunities/h2020/calls/h2020-phc-2015-two-stage.html#tab2)
- If I succeed in Phase 1, will I have a better chance chances to successfully access Phase 2? Successful completion of Phase 1 will have enabled you to make the feasibility assessment and elaborate the business plan required for Phase 2. Support in Phase 1, including coaching, will have helped to mature the project to a stage that a proposal for funding in Phase 2 can be well substantiated. However, proposals from successful participants in Phase 1 will be scrutinised and evaluated as any other proposal applying to Phase 2.
- Are Phase 3 activities implemented in parallel or as follow-up of Phase 2? Successful completion of Phase 2 will give you a kind of quality label, which will open possibilities for support from the financial instruments under Horizon 2020 and COSME, including access to debt and equity finance. Some complementary services supporting go-to-market can already be accessed during Phase 1 or 2, for example those offered by the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).
- What about periodic reporting? There is one report at the end of Phase 1. The number of reporting periods in Phase 2 will depend on the project duration. In general, projects with a duration of 12 months will only have a single period.
- COACHING AND OTHER FORMS OF SUPPORT
- What is the nature of the coaching support, and how many coaching days are offered in the respective phases? The coaching provided covers business development and management issues. Up to 3 days are offered in Phase 1, and up to 12 days in Phase 2. The role of the coach is to support the SME (specifically its management team) in its (project-related) go-to-market efforts. This service is offered exclusively to SME Instrument participants.
- What support does Phase 3 of the SME instrument provide, and who is it intended for? In Phase 3, the SME instrument does not provide grant support. However, participants will be offered access to a range of additional services including investment-readiness support, potential risk finance, and EEN services, in order to help successful go-to-market of the innovation during Phase 3.
- What is EEN and what will it do for me? How should I approach it? EEN stands for Enterprise Europe Network. It is there to help SMEs to make the most of their business opportunities in the EU, including through innovation, research or technology transfer. EEN's more than 600 members provide information on EU programmes and actions, including on Horizon 2020 and notably the SME Instrument. Find and contact your local EEN representative here.
- What are the differences between the SME Instrument and Eurostars II in terms of scope and in terms of type of projects? Can the funding be combined? Eurostars II provides funding for transnational, collaborative projects led by R&D performing SMEs in participating EUREKA countries, while the SME Instrument offers full-cycle support for all types of innovation performed by all kinds of innovative SMEs based in the EU or in Horizon 2020 associated countries. Only the SME Instrument supports single companies. Funding may be complementary in certain cases, but can never be combined.
- FOR CANDIDATE EVALUATORS/COACHES
- Is it possible to be an evaluator under a call topic in which my company has submitted a proposal? No, according to the rules under Horizon 2020, evaluators will not be assigned with the evaluation of their own proposal or any proposals competing with it, for obvious conflict of interest-reasons.
- Where and when should I apply if I want to evaluate projects supported by the SME Instrument? You should register as an expert via the Participant Portal. Currently, there is no deadline for registration.
- Are there any guidelines or training for evaluators, particularly on the type of companies the SME Instrument targets? Evaluators are provided with an online web briefing. A model proposal to help train evaluators is under preparation.
- Where and when do I have to apply if I want to be a coach? You should apply via the dedicated website of the Executive Agency of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (EASME). The call of expression of interest will be open for the whole duration of Horizon 2020.
- Which type of contract will be offered to expert evaluators / coaches? Coaches and experts will be remunerated in the same manner. Please refer to the appropriate section of the Participants Portal for more information.
- MORE INFORMATION
- Where and when can I find additional information and guidelines related to the SME instrument? If you would like to get acquainted with the basic features of the SME instrument, please download this leaflet, or review this info-graphic. If you do not know where to start or even which call topic to respond to, please consult your SME National Contact Point or Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) contact. You can also find useful information on the SME Participation page and on the SME Instrument section of the H2020 Online Manual. If you are looking to apply, please visit the SME Instrument call-page via the Participant Portal. If you would like to know what information you need to provide to the EU in order to be selected and funded for an SME Instrument project, please review the proposal templates available on the Participant Portal, both for Phase 1 and for Phase 2.
- Are any official information days or training days foreseen? Information events are held on a regular basis in Brussels. To keep informed about relevant events, please consult the Horizon 2020 portal events page, the SME TechWeb or the EASME website.