Is a good idea enough?


The main R&D programmes of CERN cover particle physics and related accelerator, detector, and IT technologies. In order for a project in one of these fields to be eligible to receive funding from the EU, there should be:

  1. an appropriate H2020 Work Programme with topics that belong to these fields,
  2. a suitable Call for Proposals addressing these topics, and
  3. a suitable instrument (type of project) corresponding to the needs of the project.

The Work Programmes are bi-annual implementation plans that describe the priority topics of each H2020 Programme that will be funded over a two year period. The Calls for Proposals are announcements soliciting proposals in certain topics of the Work Programmes.

The Calls indicate the topics that need to be addressed by the projects, the deadlines for submission of proposals, the type of projects that can be funded and the total budget available, and in some cases, the minimum or maximum funding each project may receive. Each published Call is accompanied by several important reference documents, such as proposal templates, evaluation forms, rules for submission and evaluation etc.

The planned timing of the Calls depends on the type of programme. For ERC and MSCA the Calls for Proposals are repetitive: basically one Call per type of project per year (e.g. one call for ITN, one call for Starting Grants etc.). For most other programmes, topics appear only once in 2 years and may not be repeated. Therefore, the bi-annual Work Programmes should be closely monitored. 

Once a suitable Call is identified, the participation of CERN in any EU project proposal is subject to approval by the senior management (for more details, see the CERN internal procedures - submission phase).

In H2020, the funding rate for projects in any given Work Programme and Call, may reach up to 100% of the total project costs. However, there are projects, in particular on the Research Infrastructures Work Programme, where CERN has participated with a lower funding rate (as low as 30% of the total project costs in some cases) and this may still be the case in H2020. 

Therefore, the participation of CERN in a given EU project will normally imply a commitment of CERN resources to work on a project, which, until then, has not been foreseen in the laboratory’s agreed R&D programme. In addition, it should be borne in mind that the administrative management and follow-up of EU projects is not simple and differs from the normal administrative procedures of the Organization.

It is essential that the agreement of the CERN  management hierarchy (Group Leader – Head of Department – Directorate) is sought in advance. The EU Projects Office should be informed about ongoing proposals at the earliest possible moment, and if the project is approved, it should be then kept informed of the further developments.

In the case of proposals for Marie Skłodowska-Curie projects (for host-driven actions: ITN, RISE), there is a special body called Marie Curie Steering Group which, in addition to the departmental approval, reviews the ideas for such projects, and makes a recommendation to the Directorate.

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