The impact section has often proven to be the most problematic for applicants. The new structure of this section under Horizon Europe, where the “pathway to impact” must be defined, may be even more of a challenge. However, the applicants must be aware of the utmost importance to address this section well, not only regarding the proposal evaluation (the credibility of the pathways is one of the evaluation criteria), but also the reasoning behind the project. After all, we all design projects to make a change, and this is not possible if the impact of the implemented activities is limited.
Diving Deeper into Section 2
To better understand what a pathway to impact is, let’s take a closer look at the parts of a Horizon Europe proposal template of a collaborative project. Disclaimer, the below is the author’s own take on the topic:
Already from the start, the template provides us with a definition, namely that pathways to impact are “logical steps towards the achievement of the expected impacts of the project over time, in particular beyond the duration of a project. A pathway begins with the projects’ results, to their dissemination, exploitation and communication, contributing to the expected outcomes in the work programme topic, and ultimately to the wider scientific, economic and societal impacts of the work programme destination”.
Let’s dissect this definition and for that, the summary table of section 2.3. can give us a valuable hint, having the following structure:
When developing section 2, be specific. Only present outcomes and impacts that will directly stem from your results and show how they will affect concrete target groups. Moreover, quantify the results, outcomes, and impacts whenever possible. It is not the same to raise awareness among 10 primary producers as to reach 100 of them.
Only via quantification can you really show the project’s impact and only this way can the evaluators really assess the value for money of the project. While, especially for the impacts, the quantification will be based on estimates, you should support these showing your baselines, benchmarks, and assumptions in the “scale & significance” subsection.