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About the Author: Paula Hernández

Paula holds a BSc in Biochemistry from the Complutense University of Madrid (ES) and an MSc in Biotechnology for the Bioeconomy from the University of Milan (IT). Showing great interest in sustainability and innovation, she got in deep touch with the agrifood industry during her experience within the EIT Food RIS Fellowship in 2020. Previously, she worked as a Business Analyst and Project Manager in a biotechnological company in the Diagnostics field, in which she developed a business perspective and acquired an interest in project management.

On February 28th, the latest round of calls for proposals under Cluster 6 of Horizon Europe ended. In this blog post, we delve into the success rate and average budget of the 2024 first call for proposals within this vital cluster providing insights and guidance for entities seeking funding in this dynamic domain.

Funding opportunities and statistics within Horizon Europe: navigating Cluster 6

In Horizon Europe, a cluster refers to a thematic area of research and innovation focusing on specific societal challenges or opportunities. Each cluster comprises related topics and activities aimed at addressing particular issues within a broader field and are all grouped into Global changes and industrial competitiveness area (Pillar II in Horizon Europe).

Cluster 6 focuses on Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment, aiming to address environmental challenges while fostering sustainable development. The February 2024 call presented a pivotal opportunity for entities to contribute to these critical areas of research and innovation and to secure a total of € 730 million distributed over 135 expected projects to be funded (€ 5,024,000 budget per project).

Cluster 6 insights; budget allocation analysis and Success Rate

Based on the recently released data on submitted proposals, we can highlight the high competitiveness of this call (1,333 submitted proposals) compared to 2023 call (452 submitted proposals). Overall, the success rate decreased from 31.4% during 2023 to 10.1% in 2024.

Cluster 6 embeds 7 different destinations, where calls for proposals or “topics” are segregated based on their contribution to the expected impacts. The average success rate, calculated as the percentage of available grants over submitted proposals averaged per topic, of the 7 destinations has been 12.2%, indicating higher competitiveness in some destinations that others. The destination “Resilient, inclusive, health and green rural, coastal and urban communities” and “Circular economy and bioeconomy sectors” have been especially competitive, with the lower average success rate per proposal (close to 8%). On the other hand, “Innovative governance, environmental observations and digital solutions in support of the Green Deal” has resulted the least competitive overall, with an average success rate of 20.4%. However, this derives from the fact that for some topics, a very low number of proposals were received, even only 1 proposal per grant for 3 of the topics.

The budget allocation, indicative number of grants available and submitted proposals per destination is shown in this table:

Destinations Topics No. Budget (€) Indicative number of grants Submitted proposals Success rate 2024
Biodiversity and ecosystem services 12  112,000,000.00 20 227 8.8%
Fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food systems from primary production to consumption 18  164,000,000.00 34 373 9.1%
Circular economy and bioeconomy sectors 16  147,500,000.00 33 392 8.4%
Clean environment and zero pollution 5  61,000,000.00 11 95 11.5%
Innovative governance, environmental observations, and digital solutions in support of the Green Deal 12  133,500,000.00 17 83 20.4%
Land, oceans and water for climate action 7  75,000,000.00 12 64 18.7%
Resilient, inclusive, healthy and green rural, coastal and urban communities 5  37,000,000.00 8 99 8.0%

Given a different number of topics per destination and that topics differ in the available budget, expected funded proposals and in the number of submitted proposals, the average success rate per destination and topic during 2024 was around 22%:

Average of the seven Destinations 2024 22%
Biodiversity and ecosystem services 19%
Fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food systems from primary production to consumption 12%
Circular economy and bioeconomy sectors 17%
Clean environment and zero pollution 16%
Innovative governance, environmental observations, and digital solutions in support of the Green Deal 47%
Land, oceans and water for climate action 35%
Resilient, inclusive, healthy and green rural, coastal and urban communities 10%

Conclusions

The key facts derived from this assessment of the 2024 call of Cluster 6 “Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment” are the following:

  • High amount of funds available: despite lower than in 2023, a total € 730 million are available for funding Cluster 6 projects in 2024.
  • High competitivity: the success rate of this call was 10.1%, which is remarkably low compared to 2023 (31.4%). A total of 1,333 proposals were submitted, which is almost 3 times higher than the number of proposals presented in all 2023 (452 submitted proposals).
  • High heterogeneity between Cluster 6 destinations: the average success rate per destination is rather variable, with the lower being for the topics under “COMMUNITIES” destination (10%) and the highest for the ones under “GOVERNANCE” (47%).

In our next blog post, we will showcase the insights derived from the budget and success rate assessment and provide guidelines and recommendations for applicants in view of the upcoming calls.

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