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FAQ - Ecsite and EU-funded projects

We are often asked various questions on EU projects: how Ecsite choses the proposals it joins, how the Third Parties are selected, etc. This FAQ should answer most of these questions and will be updated with new questions that Ecsite members might ask.



How does Ecsite select which proposal to join?

The Ecsite team participates in the networking events regularly organised by the European Commission (EC) in Brussels where they meet potential coordinators and present them with the strengths and expertise of our network.

From these networking events, from Ecsite’s experience in a number of EU projects where different organisations get to know our work, and from Ecsite’s reach as a European network, we are most of the time invited to join a proposal. In other words, we don’t often have to look for a proposal.

There are instances when we see a Call where we believe Ecsite and its members should have a role but for which we haven’t been invited to join a proposal. In those cases, we reach out to organisations that might be suitable coordinators (with a mission that justifies a coordination role with the topic of the Call, willing to dedicate time and resources to writing and coordinating a proposal, with past experience in EU projects, …).


If Ecsite is invited to join one or more proposals, how does it choose a proposal?

To join a proposal we look at:

  • The relevance of the call in relation to Ecsite and Ecsite members’ mission.
  • The soundness and the novelty of the concept, together with the partners of the Consortium in regard to the Call and its expected outcomes.
  • The coordinator: their experience in writing proposals, in coordinating projects or in participating in EU projects.
  • The role given to Ecsite members: whenever we join a proposal, we negotiate a role for Ecsite members. Ideally, Ecsite members would be full partners of the proposal but most of the time, because Calls ask for a large diversity of stakeholders, coordinators are reluctant in having science engagement organisations represented by more than one partner. This is why we often negotiate budgets and types of activities with the coordinator and the other Consortium partners for Ecsite’s Third Parties.
  • The role given to Ecsite and to its Third Parties: when possible we prefer to be Work Package leader so that we have more control over the proposal as well as our work and the work of our members in a project.
  • The time left between the invitation and the submission deadline: is there enough time to develop a proposal likely to win the Call?
  • The availability of Ecsite staff to contribute to the writing of the proposal and to write our work package. It takes quite some time to develop a proposal, even when not coordinating and so occasionally, we are simply just short of staff.

If we are invited to more than one proposal for the same Call:

  • We usually accept to be on 2 proposals, maximum. We notify both coordinators and if they both agree, we join 2 proposals but with 2 different Ecsite staff working on each. EU Calls are a competition and coordinators often request from the Consortium partners to sign a confidentiality document.


What is a Third Party?

A Linked Third Party under Clause  14 of the European Commission’s Grant Agreement is a legal entity which can demonstrate a legal link with the beneficiary of the project not specifically created for the work in the project (in our case, paid membership of our members suffices to demonstrate that link). Linked Third Parties carry out certain tasks in projects: usually they are involved in the implementation of activities rather than the design. The Grant Agreement is signed by Ecsite on behalf of its Third Parties. Ecsite also takes care of all the technical and financial reporting and distributes payments to its Third Parties.


Why can’t Ecsite members be full partners on a proposal instead of being Third Parties?

Ecsite members are often full partners in proposals. This happens either when they coordinate proposals, when they are invited directly by coordinators or when specific area of expertise and location are required by the coordinators. Sometimes, when Ecsite is invited to a proposal, it manages to negotiate a bigger role for its members; in this case they can also become partners. In most cases, calls request a large spread of different types of stakeholders, together with a large geographic coverage. Most coordinators consider that if the members of Ecsite were all partners, the Consortium would be too large to manage if the proposal is accepted. One of the ways for an organisation to be a full partner is of course for it to write and coordinate a proposal.


Who can be an Ecsite Third Party on a EU proposal?

Being a linked Third Party of Ecsite is a benefit limited to Ecsite Full and Sustaining members.


How are Ecsite members selected for the role of Third Parties?

Once Ecsite has negotiated with the coordinator a budget for its members and a set of tasks (more or less defined depending on the advancement of the proposal), an open call is launched via our website and the members’ mailing list to invite members’ submission. Calls always have a set of criteria against which the applications are assessed. Criteria depend on the nature of the proposals. Most of the time, some countries are identified by the coordinator: mainly countries not represented in the Consortium, and where a presence would ensure a better geographical spread and thus give a greater chance for the proposal to be selected.

Ecsite members are invited to fill in an application form for this purpose. The selection of the Third Party is done by the coordinator together with Ecsite and other Consortium partners.


Why can’t Ecsite Third Parties get more money?

Ecsite negotiates as best as it can with the coordinator and the Consortium partners to give a significant role - and therefore budget- for its Third Parties. Ecsite prefers to negotiate a higher budget for each Third Party but with fewer Third Parties, than a lower budget for more Third Parties. But the overall budget of a Call is low compared with its requirements (this has been particularly true in H2020).


What does the budget for Third Parties usually consist of?

In H2020 projects, there are 3 cost categories which are the same for partners and Third Parties. Personnel costs are aimed at covering salaries, They are based on Person-month rates of organisations (the full cost of one person working full-time for one month); hence all partners and Third Parties would have a different budget under this category. Other directs costs cover items such as but not limited to materials, travels, catering and any other costs needed to run the activities. Indirect costs are aimed at covering the overheads related to the implementation of the project and are calculated automatically as a flat rate of 25% of the sum of the two cost categories mentioned above.


What is the success rate of proposals submitted to H2020?

During the first 3 years of H2020, the success rate was of 12.6% with 74% of high quality proposals not funded, while the success rate in the previous Framework Programme FP7 was of 18.4%. Of course this rate varies depending on the Calls, but globally the competition in H2020 is fierce.


Why isn’t Ecsite writing and coordinating more proposals?

Indeed, we prefer to join many proposals and negotiate and write work packages rather than dedicate our resources to writing one full proposal. We’ve estimated that writing a proposal requires about 30.000€ in resources. When we do decide to write a proposal it is on a call where we estimate to be very legitimate as a coordinator, where we think we stand a very good chance of winning, and where to our knowledge no Ecsite member is writing / coordinating what would be a competing proposal.


Could Ecsite offer a training on writing EU proposals?

Ecsite offered some pre-conference workshops trainings on EU projects at the Ecsite Conferences of 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2014. They were not repeated for lack of participants and of experienced trainers willing to give tips for proposals writing that is basically a competition and a confidential exercise. Ecsite will offer a pre-conference workshop on writing EU proposals at the Ecsite Conference 2019.


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