"... Congratulations. Your proposal has reached the stage of Grant Agreement preparation ..."
Written by Sara Sleigh

You have put in a great deal of hard work on a proposal and waited months for the result…. finally, you receive an email from the European Commission that starts with the word “Congratulations”! After the euphoria and the flurry of emails have passed, you reread the email to find that you have been invited for Grant Agreement preparation. Panic sets in. What does this mean and how can it be completed without pain

In a nutshell, Grant Agreement preparation is the process of turning your proposal into a binding contract (the Grant Agreement) between the consortium partners and the EC. It entails translating existing documentation into the format required in the Grant Agreement and, more importantly, working with all the partners to ensure that they have the correct online status to allow them to navigate the EC’s grant management system and sign the EC contract successfully. The EC does not allow any negotiation with respect to the work plan or partners at this stage. The process can be quick and easy, but can run into difficulties particularly with partners without previous experience of EC projects.

Here are a few top tips to help you through the grant preparation process:

Attend the meeting for coordinators

Shortly after the congratulatory email, all project coordinators will be sent an invitation to attend a meeting in Brussels. It is often the case that only 10 or so days’ notice might be given for these meetings, but it is definitely worth attending. You will be given an overview of the whole process but, more importantly, meetings with your project’s Scientific and Legal officers provide an opportunity to start to build a relationship with those individuals who will be responsible for monitoring your scientific progress and financial claims. Be prepared for the meeting with any queries you might have about the process, your start date or specific comments in the Evaluation Summary Report.

Pay attention to third parties

At the meeting for coordinators, the EC puts a great deal of effort into explaining the different types of third party in a Horizon 2020 Grant Agreement. Nevertheless, the topic is certainly not straightforward! We’d definitely recommend taking someone with experience of the administrative complexities of an EC project to the meeting in Brussels and working with them to make sure that all partners’ third parties are included correctly from the start. This will make future financial claims much easier.

Get started quickly

Partners with little experience of the process will need to be guided through the possible paperwork and forest of acronyms. Contacting all partners as soon as possible with a view to steering them through the requirements is essential and will help the coordinator to respect EC deadlines.

If you would like help or guidance with your forthcoming Grant Agreement preparation, please contact the Euram team at support@euram.ltd.uk and we would be happy to help!