additional requirements for CBE JU proposals

– Writing a CBE JU proposal

CBE JU Additional requirements

With the 22 September deadline for the first CBE JU call fast approaching, it may be timely to follow on from an earlier BBI JU 2019 blog post, and look at some key features for successfully writing CBE JU proposals.

It is important to look beyond the specific call topic text targeted and closely consider  additional requirements common for many topics, which are detailed at length in the call documentation, including the 2022 Annual Work Programme (AWP) extending over many pages (from p 56), as well as  a useful overview table (Q2.3) in the FAQ for Applicants document, shown below. Many of these additional requirements are CBE JU specific, absent or present to a much lesser degree in standard Horizon Europe proposals.

CBE JU additional requirements

Two of these additional requirements that we will now address more closely are:

  • The Multi-Actor Approach 
  • Consortium Own Contribution

Multi-Actor Approach (MAA)

The multi-actor approach might be considered specific to CBE JU proposals (IA), particularly with its emphasis on involvement of primary producers, e.g. farmers, foresters, etc. as being a core part of the bioeconomy value chain. However, MAA is also included within the Open Science aspect of all Horizon Europe novelties, including – “involving all relevant knowledge actors including citizens, civil society and end users in the co-creation of R&I agendas and contents (such as citizen science)”. It also forms an integral part of the new EU Missions component of Horizon Europe.

The key term here is “co-creation”, as it needs to go further than just widely disseminating the results of a project or listening to the views of a board of stakeholders. CBE JU seeks the substantive involvement of end-users within IAs as a means to use their practical and local knowledge and/or entrepreneurial skills to develop solutions and create ’co-ownership‘ of results. This should speed up the acceptance and uptake of new ideas, approaches and solutions developed in the project at country and regional level

The proposal should demonstrate how the project will result in practical knowledge and tools, providing free material for practice such as “ practice abstracts” in the EIP-AGRI format, feeding into the existing dissemination channels most consulted by the (end-) users of the project results.

Further information on how such co-creation approaches might be developed in practice is contained within a recent policy paper from the BE Rural project consortium, presenting recommendations for the design and effective implementation of co-creation spaces in regional bioeconomies.

Consortium Own Contribution (IKOP)

In a previous blog article on BBI JU calls, I referred to the elephant in the room relating to this own contribution aspect. This was because the expected extent of this contribution was not defined other than “to a level that will help maximising the impact of the action”, a degree of vagueness that seemed wholly unfair. Thankfully, there have been some welcome changes introduced here for CBE JU, with firstly the requirement no longer applying to RIAs, and then the contribution level, based on a percent of total eligible project costs, clearly set at 15% for IAs and 20% for IA-Flagships, Note also, these are minimum thresholds and can be exceeded, although “for this call no higher scores will be assigned in case of a higher IKP contribution” (FAQ – 4.2.4).

While the elephant may have left the room in terms of the increased transparency, a possible fly in the ointment here relates to the stipulation that IKOP towards these 15/20% thresholds is only taken into account if coming from signed up BIC members. It’s not clear what the rationale behind this condition is, but it appears to suggest that any industry entity, be it an SME or a large company, seeking to participate within a CBE JU IA consortium will be required to become affiliated to BIC. Hopefully, this won’t act as a deterrent to the participation of some players in these calls.

It’s also of course worth noting that the funding rate for IAs has been reduced by derogation to 60% for CBE JU proposals (still 100% for non-profit entities) compared to the 70% level applicable for standard Horizon Europe IA proposals. Presumably, the increased co-funding requirement here is to go towards meeting this IKOP requirement. As mentioned, this IKOP no longer applies to RIAs. Also, as an aside, the previous zero funding level for large companies within RIAs/CSAs seems also to have been discontinued for CBE JU, offering them the opportunity if so desired to participate in such action types at 100% funding level.

Finally, Additional Activities (IKAA) remain also a consideration for IAs, and can be included in an optional and indicative annex. However, the salient point here is that this will not be taken into account during the proposal evaluation stage, only coming into play during the Grant Agreement Preparation (GAP) when an update of any IKAA contribution will be requested.

CBE JU proposal page limits

While RIA proposals have to comply with the new Horizon Europe Part B 45 page limit for  for RIA/IA actions, CBE JU has obtained a derogation for IA proposals up to 70 page limit. On the face of it,  this seems somewhat unfair for RIA proposals, based on RIAs having also to comply with many of the CBE JU specific additions as outlined in Table above. These include project synergies (1.1),  environmental sustainability performance (1.2, Ex-ante assessment; 3.1, Post-ante assessment), MAA (1.2, selected RIA topics),economic viability/business case (2.1), etc.

While for some of these – e.g. post-ante assessment of environmental issues, business case – the level of rigor and detail required may be somewhat less for RIAs than IAs, there are still many additional aspects to be covered beyond standard HE proposals. Surely this calls into question both the requirement for adherence to the 45 page limit for RIAs, as well as the extra 25 pages derogated to IAs for relatively minimal extra additions?

In any case, it’s more important than ever with these reduced page limits and additional requirements to create a concise, coherent and succinct proposal, that clearly addresses all of the requirements, positioned correctly within the various sub-sections, making for an engaging and evaluator-friendly proposal.

I am available to support with proposal draft reviews pre-submission to offer an efficient and complementary service to coordinator/consortium own writing efforts.

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