The Role of the Horizon 2020 Project Coordinator
Written by James Holder

If you are considering applying for Horizon 2020 grant funding as the leader of a consortium then you may have heard tales of what it takes to be a coordinator. Of course the role of project coordinator is not one to be taken lightly, however, if you approach this position forearmed with knowledge of what will be required of you, there is no reason why you will not be able to achieve your goal.

Proposal stage

At the proposal stage the job of the coordinator is to gather the consortium members together into a unified group with shared objectives. At this stage your interactions with the EC will be minimal, but if you have any questions you might like to contact your National Contact Point (NCP) as their role is to provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon 2020.

For more information on the proposal stage see our January 2015 blog “Top Five Tips for Proposal Writing”.

Communication of results and Grant Agreement preparation

If your submitted proposal is reviewed favourably you will get a positive communication from the EC and an invitation to enter Grant Agreement Preparation. All correspondence with the EC is done electronically, through the EC’s Participant Portal, and all signatures on the Grant Agreement are also electronic. For more information on this please see our October 2015 blog “Congratulations. Your proposal has reached the stage of Grant Agreement preparation”.

Distribution of funding

Once the Grant Agreement is signed the EC will make a payment of the project pre-financing into your nominated coordinator’s account. Once this payment has been received you must distribute the payments between the partners without unjustified delay, so it is a good idea to know the bank account details of your consortium and the proposed distribution amounts before you receive the pre-financing payment. Good communication with your Finance Director will be essential at this time or, if you work in a university, your Research Office will be able to help you here.

Kickoff meeting

Now your project has started, and the pre-financing has been distributed to the other partners, it is time to arrange a first meeting of the consortium. This meeting, which should be held as soon after the start of the project as is practical, is a good opportunity for you to remind everyone of the project’s aims and determine a plan for the early months. Projects can begin to stall if early momentum is not maintained, but with an early kickoff meeting, good partner interactions and a clearly defined plan of work you will be able to further motivate your consortium to success.

For more information on organising project meetings see our January 2016 blog “Project Meetings”.

Running the project

With your project now underway you will be busy managing your day-to-day commitments as well as overseeing the project. It can be useful to delegate some activities to other members of the consortium, but be careful not to delegate or subcontract the specific activities for which this is explicitly forbidden by the EC in the Grant Agreement.

Deliverables

During the life of your project you will need to submit documents for the Deliverables you agreed upon with the consortium when you were writing the proposal. This is not to say that you must write all the Deliverable documents yourself, but you must read them all, verify they are complete and then submit them to the EC.

For more information on Deliverables see our May 2015 blog “Building a Project: Milestones and Deliverables”.

Periodic Reports

The EC will divide your project into reporting periods, normally 18 months in length, and within 60 days of the end of each reporting period you must submit Periodic Reports to the EC giving a summary of project progress. Both technical and financial aspects of the project need to be reported on, with the financial report also being used as a request for future interim payment. With the EC’s single submission process you must submit all technical and financial reports for the EC’s review at the same time. If a partner is late in supplying their financial documents, and you choose to submit the reports to the EC without them, that partner will not have the opportunity to submit their financial report until the next reporting period 18 months later. Good communication within both your own organisation and your consortium is therefore important, as well as adherence to deadlines, at reporting times.

Dissemination/Concertation activities

As your project progresses there will be outputs that you may wish to share with communities outside the project. The dissemination of project results is encouraged by the EC and if you are publishing journal articles you must ensure that they are “open access”. The most important thing to remember is that the funding contribution made by the EC to the project must be acknowledged, there will be specific wording of how this must be done in the Grant Agreement.

The EC is also keen for you to share your experiences and progress with other EC funded projects in the same research area, so called concertation activities. This could be in the form of joint project meetings or a joint session at a conference, any of these concertation activities should be specifically mentioned in your Periodic Reports.

For more information on dissemination see our April 2015 blog “Top tips for promoting your research project”.

Final Reports

When the Horizon 2020 project you are coordinating comes to an end, in addition to the Periodic Report for the last reporting period, you must also submit a Final Report within 60 days of the end of the project. The EC is clear about what the Final Report must include, for both the scientific and technical sections of the document, and details can be found in your Grant Agreement.

If you think you might benefit from more specific guidance in your planned project coordination then Euram would be pleased to offer assistance. Please feel free to contact us at support@euram.ltd.uk.