2020 Review of the Best Project Managers for EU-funded Projects
If you ever worked on a project funded by the European Union (EU), you already know how demanding and time-consuming project management tasks are. Those include a variety of duties: from managing resources, reporting activities, monitoring budget, negotiations with the European Commission to organizing meetings - the list goes on.
For the majority of EU-funded projects, it is common to split these tasks between the partners of the consortia. One partner could handle coordination of scientific activities, while the other partner could be in charge of administrative tasks. An administrative coordinator can be a time saver for a scientific team, reminding about deadlines, informing about financial issues, organizing meetings, just to name a few tasks.
If you do not feel comfortable with EU project management - or just want to save time for other tasks - good news is that there are companies specialized in project management for EU-funded projects. If you wish to hire one for the call under the next EU research and innovation Framework Programme Horizon Europe, keep in mind to involve it at the very beginning of the project, even in the project proposal.
Considering the fact that 10% of time invested in the project is dedicated to project management tasks, it might be worth checking the list below. It gathers the best project management companies for EU-funded projects.The list focuses on the companies that are a part of the Scientist community and its European network. It ranks the companies according to their success rates, where possible.
Infographic by Scientist
The Israeli company Enspire Science and its personnel has over two-decades worth of experience in EU funding. Since their initial days, they worked in the area of collaborative research grants in the pre- and post-award phase. During the pre-award phase, they have been working with consortia to develop competitive applications, while during the post-award phase they have been working as project managers for funded projects in the FP4, FP5, FP6, FP7 and Horizon 2020 framework programs.
Since the first days, Enspire Science proposed an innovative approach in the EU grants consulting space, based on the experience of its personnel. It enabled them to consider the grant development process as a joint effort between the researchers’ expertise in science and the Enspire Science team as the experts in successful grant development. Enspire Science supports all scientific domains, spanning from life sciences to exact sciences and engineering to social sciences, humanities and more.
Today, the Enspire Science team has expanded to 2 offices: one in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the other in London, England. They offer workshops, online courses, and individual pre-award & post-award services. The team has launched a customized Enspire Science Knowledge Base which they update with their latest EU-grants insights, tips, guides and more.
The Enspire Science team is committed to thoroughly understand the science behind each proposed research project in order to provide the most relevant and customized assistance. They developed a specialized service called “Go/No-Go preliminary assessment service, to help applicants identify if their research idea, CV and background are in line with the Horizon 2020 requirements. As a direct result of our approach and methodology, Enspire Science’s success rates are about double to triple the EU average to a specific EU grants deadline,” emphasizes Aviv Hochbaum, in charge of Enspire Science marketing and development.
Since 2007, Enspire Science has also been working with researchers seeking to win funding from the highly prestigious ERC funding scheme whose core criteria is “excellence”. Enspire Science defined its own metrics for success, and developed a method for ERC applications, implementing it to other EU funded projects as well.
Enspire Science has dedicated services for EU-funded projects, ranging from the Horizon 2020 Professional Coordinator Service to the Dissemination, Communication & Exploitation management service, and finally through their Horizon 2020 legal review services. Their Professional Coordinator service provides a recognized international experience in managing EU collaborative research projects, which can let researchers focus on science and technology at the core of their research project.
Enspire Science can take on the full coordination of Horizon 2020 projects acting as the official coordinator. Alternatively, it can work with an official Horizon 2020 coordinator, as a regular beneficiary. The superset of project management services that Enspire Science can provide include: Coordination of the project as a whole (in the case Enspire Science serves as the official project coordinator), coordination of project resources, interfacing with the European Commission and so much more.In terms of preparing for Horizon Europe, Enspire Science is studying all available new information for internal purposes, but they have created a dedicated Horizon Europe article which they will update whenever there is new and substantial information at hand.
Aviv points out how the biggest challenges in the project management of EU projects involve “coordinating the work of the various partners, orchestrating the various tasks, while maintaining a timely work plan and a smooth workflow.” Enspire Science has worked with more than a thousand individuals and organizations on such projects, which made them capable of making people from various backgrounds collaborate effectively and reach their project’s objectives.
The Slovenian company Tiko Pro d.o.o., active in the field of business consultancy and EU funding acquisition, was established by Kristina Kočet Hudrap, owner and CEO in 2010.
Today, Tiko Pro d.o.o is “offering support for project preparation and implementation, especially for innovation-driven and R&D projects. The scope of our services stretches from initial consultancy for our business clients regarding vast opportunities of different EU funding mechanisms (for example Horizon 2020) to coordination of proposal preparation process and project delivery,” Kristina Kočet Hudrap states.
The company also provides services for project dissemination and communication while performing as an active partner in international consortia. “On the verge of the new financial perspective, covering a period between 2021 and 2027, we are following up on the trends and challenges in the prioritized segments on a regular basis in order to provide high quality consultancy related to EU funding opportunities of the new Horizon Europe program in the areas of digitalization, health, energy, mobility and environment, ” Kristina Kočet Hudrap concludes.
During the past 10 years, Tiko Pro d.o.o. has contributed to more than 900 national and EU projects, acquiring more than 140 million EUR for 700 clients. Even if they are still quite a young company, Kristina Kočet Hudrap emphasizes their success rate and states how: “getting the project to receive funding is only half of the way, we are proud of the fact that 90% of approved projects are also successfully implemented. At the European level, with a substantially higher competitive landscape compared to the national (Slovenian) funding, the overall performance rate is about 30%, which is significantly above the EU average,” she concludes.
Tiko Pro’s team also organizes many face-to-face and virtual events to keep clients informed about Horizon Europe. Establishing long-term professional relationships with clients is one of the biggest assets of their team.
Tiko Pro d.o.o. has been successfully managing large international project consortia in terms of requirements and procedures, but also in coordination of project partners with different backgrounds, as well as in “alignments of methodologies to streamline the direction of the project“, as Kristina Kočet Hudrap shares.
“One of the show cases of our successful translation of theory into practice, both in terms of coordination of project preparation and implementation, is our active role in an international, interdisciplinary consortium of 20 partners, where Tiko Pro provides trainings on communication and project management skills for the participating researchers as the next generation of innovation-driven biotechnological professional,” Kristina Kočet Hudrap concludes.
The Portugese company INOVA+ was created in late 1997. It was when its founder, Eurico Neves, returned from Brussels to Portugal, to “support national organizations in developing innovation projects and joining EU programs.” His experience from the Innovation Programme of the European Commission in Brussels, resulted in quick expansion of INOVA+ to international markets, opening of an office in Brussels in 2000, followed by offices in Germany and Poland in the next years.
“INOVA+ covers the whole innovation cycle - from ideation, to project development, funding (from public programs and private sources), project management, exploitation of research, technology implementation, organizational change and venture investment in spin-offs and new technology based firms”, tells us Nuno Soares, INOVA+ Business Development Officer.
Although INOVA+ has experts in all main technology sectors, their focus is on information technologies, health and socio-economic areas. INOVA+ supports large companies, SMEs, start-ups, universities, R&D centers, public organizations, municipalities and NGOs. In the context of EU programs, they have approved projects in almost all domains.
“Only in 2020 INOVA+ is running more than 50 EU-funded projects in different areas and programs”, states Nuno Soares. Those include STARTS ECOSYSTEM project (in the Science, Technology & the Arts initiative), SMARTAGRIHUBS , Z-BRE4K , Universities of the Future) projects in Digital Transformation, just to name a few.
“Our success rate is over 30% and is due to our approach and focus on selecting projects and ideas of excellence, combined with exhaustive work and involvement qualified experts to address all critical success factors (CSF) to attain competitive project applications”, explains Nuno Soares.
“In the Horizon 2020 new instruments appeared managed by the EIC - European Innovation Council, the SME instrument/EIC Accelerator. This was an area that we invested in and we approved several projects for these new instruments. We can highlight some: NANO and SWORD projects and recently the MYDIDIMO, which will be expanded in the Horizon Europe program,” concludes Nuno Soares.
INOVA+ team has more than “20 years of experience in managing international projects in all areas and with partners from all sectors, often as a coordinator, all our projects have been successfully carried out,” states Nuno Soares.
The biggest and the most challenging project for INOVA+ was “the creation and management of the Marie Curie Alumni Association as a service to the European Commission, a project with a total budget of over 8M€ since its start in 2012.,” shares Nuno Soares. With INOVA+ support, it has grown to become one of the largest researchers’ associations in the world.
“We believe in partnerships and in the power of collaboration, and hence INOVA+ is often a partner or coordinator of the projects it develops, either based on its own idea and activities, or on those of their clients and partners, being directly funded from the projects. We also develop proposals for clients on a fee basis, often - but not necessarily - assuming a management support role as a subcontractor once the projects are approved”, explains Nuno Soares.
INOVA+ is also preparing for Horizon Europe by participating in evaluations, task forces and studies while its International Unit, responsible for managing European funded programs, “has created a task force to address the program and start to identify calls and opportunities for clients and partners in our network,” Nuno Soares concludes.
The German company EURICE is a spin-off of Saarland University with a mission to offer professional support to scientists applying to and/or managing EU projects. Since 2000 and the FP4, EURICE accumulated experience from participation in more than 100 projects, acquiring over 900 million euros of European Commission funds for collaborative R&I projects. With more than 20 years of experience, EURICE covers a broad range of scientific domains, with a particular large number of projects in life sciences. They have a team of nearly 50 staff members in two main offices. “Our team structure stipulates exchange of best practices among team members by corporate learning and knowledge management,” emphasizes Jörg Scherer, managing director of EURICE.
EURICE can be employed in the EU projects as beneficiary or a consortium partner, in collaborative R&I projects. EURICE supports project creation and management during the whole life cycle of the project, assisting consortia in the preparation of the application, negotiations, and project implementation.
“We offer modularized and complementary services in the field of Grant & Project Management, Intellectual Property Management, Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation; moreover we are leading European flagship initiatives in the field of IP & Innovation Support in Horizon 2020/Horizon Europe – such as the European IP Helpdesk,” shares Jörg Scherer.
He mentions how EURICE is looking forward to Horizon Europe, “as the strategic objectives of Horizon Europe fit very well with our ambition to enhance the dissemination and exploitation of project outcomes”, Jörg Scherer states.
EURICE has recently started a new H2020 Research and Innovation Action with 69 consortium partners - working over 7 years. “In order to master this challenge of day-to-day project management, you need to establish very efficient internal communication structures,” concludes Jörg Scherer, emphasizing the strengths of EURICE’s team.
The core activity of the German company ConsulTech GmbH is to support project submission and implementation. They are specialized in project management for companies in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceutical development, medical technology, environmental technology and healthcare IT.
It already coordinated two FP7 projects in health-related fields: the MIRACLE and EUROCALIN projects and GLIOMARK project in the H2020.
The Dutch company ttopstart B.V. is
The Dutch company ttopstart is a consulting company that supports researchers and companies in the fields of life sciences and healthcare.
Their professionals have a shared passion for making the complex simple, realizing meaningful impact, and pushing through barriers. Their approaches build upon proven and tailored consulting methods and a deep understanding of the sector. They can manage for you all the non-scientific activities of your research project, from coordinating and drafting grant and consortium agreements to financial administration.
With a mission to “empower biomedical innovators”, ttopstart B.V. is a partner in the H2020 projects REGAIN, PRECIOUS and PIONEER. It is usually oriented towards projects in the field of life sciences, medical technology and healthcare.
The Israeli company Beacon Tech has a team of scientists specialized in supporting institutions, hospitals, and tech companies applying for European funding. Beacon Tech offered several services for Horizon 2020, including project coordination - administrative and financial management.
Beacon Tech has been involved in European grants since 1997, particularly in projects related to genomics and smart environment. It applies to projects related to clinical trials, life sciences, FET, ICT, and many other fields of research.
The Belgium company Zabala Innovation Consulting has more than 30 years of experience in assisting R&D companies to get financing. It was a part of the first European Framework Programme ever. Today it accumulated more than 630 million € worth in H2020 projects.
Their areas of expertise include smart cities, ICT, health and technologies, with an emphasis on innovative project management.
Created in 1987, the French company ARTTIC is specialized in consultancy and management services for research and technological development. Their areas of expertise cover aeronautics, automotive, biotechnologies, energy, health, ICT and more.
Its Project Office service includes every step in the project management: from project administration and logistics, budget monitoring to communication and preparation of the exploitation of results.
The Belgium company My EU Consulting is specialized in helping start-ups and SMEs gain funding available through the EIC Accelerator program. It offers a four step process of preparation and project management. My EU Consulting covers areas of space, security, public sector innovation, information and communication technology (ICT), health, and many more. It helped more than 70 start-ups to successfully come into the 6% of those in the interview phase.
Advantages of working with a project manager in EU project
At the moment of writing this article, negotiations about the EU’s next multiannual financial framework (MFF) are still ongoing. The amount of money for the next MFF will also determine the budget for Horizon Europe. According to the current situation and high demand for R&D projects, it is possible that the competition will be even greater than in Horizon 2020. So if you are planning to apply for any of the future EU grants, consider these project management companies. Plan enough ahead to include them at the very beginning of your project. Not only that they can help you carry on your project, they can also save you time and make the whole process less complicated. These project managers could help you achieve desired results and give you a whole new perspective on your project. Last, but not least, working with project managers also strengthens your collaboration network and opens up new opportunities.