Since the official launch of the EU’s biggest R&D Programme Horizon 2020 at the start of 2014, the Polish government has undertaken a number of actions aiming at increasing the participation of Polish research institutes in the programme.

Polish performance in the 7th Framework Programme, Horizon 2020’s predecessor, left no doubts that actions encouraging participation, as well as actions increasing the quality of applications, are needed. Both in terms of successful participations and the actual funding secured, Polish participants scored lower than those from other Central European countries such as Hungary or the Czech Republic, not to mention Western European Member States.

One of the instruments offered by the Polish government to remedy this situation are the so called „Grants for grants” (Granty na granty). These allow research institutions intending to take the coordinator role in a Horizon 2020 project consortium to receive a non-refundable grant of up to 30.000 PLN (approx. 7.500 EUR). The funding is meant for actions related to the preparation of a Horizon 2020 application, including for example the support by third parties (i.e. consultancies) in the writing and reviewing of the application or the organization of project consortia. Interestingly, „Grants for grants” can be requested ex ante (before preparing and submitting the funding application) as well as ex post (after the funding application has been submitted and evaluated). In the latter case, costs for preparing the application can be reimbursed, however, only if the application has reached a certain scoring threshold in the evaluation process.

Another incentive, planned to be launched by the end of Q1 2015, is the so called “Bonus on the Horizon” (Premia na Horyzoncie). The rationale behind this instrument is to provide financial rewards to employees of research institutes, who managed to secure funding from the Horizon 2020 programme. Depending on the amount secured by the entity, an equivalent of 10% or more of the EU money will be made available by the Polish government. An additional 10% can be paid if the entity takes a coordinator role in the project.  It is important to note that this grant goes to the individual employees de facto involved in the application preparation, and not the research institute as such.

Both instruments will offer an interesting opportunity for Polish research institutes in 2015. The possibility of involving third parties in the application writing, coupled with financial incentives for research institute employees directly involved in the application preparations, can be an important contribution to widening the participation of Polish research institutes in Horizon 2020, but also increasing the quality of applications. Experience from 2014 shows that the “Grants for grants” budget has been available throughout the year and a vast majority of applications received funding. This trend is expected to continue in 2015, with a fresh budget allocated in Q1 2015.0