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HORIZON EUROPE

Zabala Innovation obtains excellent results in Horizon Europe Pillar I

Results in Horizon Europe

The excellent results in Horizon Europe and other European R&D funding programmes achieved by Zabala Innovation are confirmed in its success rate. Among the successes achieved thanks to its project review activities, Zabala Innovation has obtained funding for an ERC project and two Marie Skłodowska-Curie projects under the first Pillar I calls of the European Commission’s largest research and innovation framework programme dedicated to science.

In more detail, Zabala Innovation prepared a proposal under the European Research Council (ERC) programme in 2021 and carried out seven reviews in 2022. In addition, it achieved a 60% success rate for projects submitted last year under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, proof of the high level of advice it is able to offer its clients to make the most of Horizon Europe.

Pillar I of Horizon Europe consists of the ERC programme, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and the Research Infrastructures programme. Zabala Innovation has advised its clients on the first two.

Horizon Europe’s ERC programme

The ERC programme offers long-term funding to support excellent researchers and their research teams to carry out high-risk, high-impact innovations in any field of research. It is open to independent researchers of any nationality, age, and stage of their research career, who intend to carry out their research projects in a public or private organisation located in one of the EU Member States or associated countries. “Scientific excellence is the only evaluation criterion,” says Sérgio Vilela, R&D management consultant at Zabala Innovation.

Under this programme, there are different individual grant schemes:

  • ERC Starting Grants (ERC-StG), for promising early-career researchers (from two to seven years of experience after PhD), with a grant of up to €1.5 million over five years;
  • ERC Consolidator Grants (ERC-CoG), for excellent researchers with seven to 12 years of postdoctoral experience; the grant can be up to EUR 2 million over five years;
  • ERC Advanced Grants (ERC-AdG), for established research leaders with a recognised record of achievement; in this case, the grant is up to EUR 2.5 million over five years;
  • ERC Synergy Grants (ERC-SyG), for a small group of two to four principal investigators to address ambitious questions that can only be answered through coordinated work; the ceiling for this grant is EUR 10 million over six years;
  • ERC Proof of Concept (ERC-PoC), for ERC grant holders to explore the commercial or social innovation potential of their frontier research project; flat-rate grant of €150,000.

“In 2021, our teams have supported the preparation of one ERC-StG, reviewed another ERC-StG proposal, two ERC-CoGs and two ERC-AdGs, while in 2022 we have reviewed three ERC-StG proposals, three ERC-CoGs and one ERC-SyG,” explains Vilela. “In addition, we have organised and delivered information sessions and workshops on ERC-StG in 2021 and on ERC-CoG in 2022,” he adds.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

The most important Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions are postdoctoral projects, staff exchange, programme co-funding and doctoral networks. Zabala Innovation is mainly involved in the latter, which aims to support the training and professional development of research staff from all over the world by funding excellent doctoral programmes, individual postdoctoral projects and collaborative projects.

“It is not only about supporting projects and opportunities aimed at the academic world, but also about creating a new generation of highly qualified PhD students and enhancing their professional development and employability also outside academia,” says Sara Marin, consultant in the coordination of European collaborative projects at Zabala Innovation. “This is why industries and private companies can also play an important role and benefit from Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions,” she adds.

“In 2021, two of the four proposals reviewed by our teams within the scope of these actions have been funded and one has been placed on the reserve list,” says Blanca Rodríguez, head of European projects at Zabala Innovation, who highlights the high standards of the evaluation, with cut-off scores that can vary between 88.8 and 100 out of 100, depending on the panel. Another proposal – which has received funding of 1.8 million euros – was also prepared by experts from this consultancy.