Project critical risk analysis IN HORIZON EUROPE PROPOSALS

] – Project implementation risk analysis


Take care not to run the risk of the evaluators down-scoring your proposal because they consider your project critical risk analysis to be of a superficial generic nature rather than the robust and rigorous analysis required.

Critical risk analysis and risk mitigation measures need to be addressed in the Implementation section of  proposals and risk management is listed as one of the aspects to be taken account of in the evaluation criteria for Section 3.1 Implementation.

Describe any critical risks, relating to project implementation, that the stated project’s objectives may not be achieved. Detail any risk mitigation measures. Please provide a table with critical risks identified and mitigating actions. 

While this is an aspect that comes late in the proposal, it should, rather than an afterthought quickly cobbled together before proposal submission deadline, be given due care and consideration, particularly towards completion of the risk register table.

There are two primary elements for consideration here:

Risk Mitigation Measures

Firstly, we note the ‘critical’ terminology used, so our critical risk analysis needs only to address the core risks that relate to project implementation and it is not required to collate a huge number of risks. I’d suggest perhaps something in the 5 – 10 range to be appropriate, distributed across three managerial/technical/business categories. That is to say, less is more; better to concentrate on a smaller number that are project specific showing evidence of forethought and careful analysis, with convincing risk mitigation measures (a plan B) to address each one identified. Try to go a little beyond the more generic type often referenced – consortium conflict, budget over-run, scheduling delays, etc. –but additionally include some real project specific technical/scientific challenges with appropriate and imaginative risk mitigation measures described.

Be careful with risk-mitigation measures that:

  • May delay your time schedule to much 
  • Suggest doing more work (it is unlikely that you have hidden resources that can work for free)
  • Lowers the project ambitions too much


Another point to note if including business risks relating to the exploitation/commercialisation aspects of your work plan; – be careful not to confuse or duplicate material already covered in 2.1 Expected Impacts describing potential barriers to achievement of these. The section3 table shows risks over the project implementation period whereas 2.1 relates more to future market/regulatory uncertainty hindering product commercialisation after the project is finished.


Risk Probability

We are asked to indicate the level of likelihood across Low/Medium/High and the proposal template advises “the likelihood is the estimated probability that the risk will materialise even after taking account of the mitigating measures put in place”

Many applicants find this highlighting of potential risks to be counter-intuitive and the temptation is to categorise all risks in the Low category. However, it’s important not to try to underplay risks; an innovative project is by its nature challenging and high risk/high reward. If all risk is perceived as low, the question can be asked if public funding to de-risk the project is indeed the better funding option, or if a bank loan or private investor funding would be the more appropriate funding vehicle. I’d suggest showing at least a few Medium categorisations, always remembering that it is the risk mitigation measure that is the crucial aspect in terms of demonstrating a rigorous and robust risk management plan.

Additionally, within the work package description table, include in the management work package a dedicated task containing descriptive text highlighting risk management as an inherent part of the project management framework. This will include a mechanism for continual monitoring/reporting/correction throughout, including also the identification of new risks arising over the project period. 

Risk mitigation measures

The take-away message – go beyond the generic too often employed here; with a small bit of care and consideration there is no reason not to be able to navigate this final section of proposal development while avoiding the concession of a key 0.5 score in your Implementation assessment !

**Disclaimer: the information provided above is a personal subjective commentary and for information purposes only**

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