There is no doubt that the emphasis on clear and effective dissemination, communication and exploitation (DC&E) strategies in projects funded through Horizon 2020 played a significant part in the eventual success of many of those projects over the past seven years.
In H2020, there was an insistence that to receive funding, projects had to have a well-organised plan in place at the proposal stage to ensure that results were properly communicated to those who needed to understand the potential of those results. I believe this led to many innovative new processes, products and knowledge having significant impact in industry, academia and in society as a whole.
In implementing Horizon Europe, however, the commission has taken a long, hard look at the DC&E demands of Horizon 2020 – and tweaked things for the better once more. I think this is essential for the new programme to be able to deliver even more on Europe’s considerable investment.
In making the changes, the commission first looked at some of the reasons why DC&E may not have always delivered for all projects and in this honest soul-searching exercise some important lessons were learnt.
- DC&E was often considered by some projects to be a box-ticking exercise and not part of the real work of the project, which was to research, develop and innovate
- There was often a focus on implementation and not really looking at what any potential user may want, need or be prepared to pay for
- Awareness of the market and the opportunities in that market to disseminate results that may be of interest was often lacking
- Despite the need to include DC&E in a project proposal, many failed to design the strategy into the project from the start – perhaps perceiving it as something to be done after the project had ended
- There was often a lack of the right skills amongst the project partners to share results effectively with the right audience, demonstrating the need for expert dissemination and exploitation partners on board.
With these lessons in mind, the emphasis on effective DC&E strategies is now even more important to be successful in Horizon Europe proposals than it ever was. Indeed, the need for dissemination and exploitation strategies are now founded in statute – a project MUST commit to using their “best efforts to exploit the results it owns or have them exploited by another legal entity.”
Meanwhile, beneficiaries of Horizon Europe funding MUST “disseminate their results as soon as it is feasible, in a publicly available format, subject to any restrictions due to the protection of intellectual property.”.
As such, there are some clear changes to DC&E in Horizon Europe compared to Horizon 2020. These changes include:
- DC&E is to be part of the Key Impact Pathway, which is how the new impact section of HE proposal is described. In essence, this means projects must demonstrate the contribution it will have to the impact on society
- There are some improvements to both the proposal template and the reporting templates to be used in HE that introduce more specific language on DC&E
- An emphasis is being placed on the continuous reporting of DC&E throughout the project and, importantly, after it ends as well
- Partners are to be encouraged to engage with third party exploiters where appropriate
- Incentives for exploitation are to be introduced.
Finally, the commission is to support the exploitation of results in addition to imposing these obligations by setting up the Horizon Results Platform. This is a free service available to all beneficiaries and will focus on results, rather than the projects themselves. If project results are not taken up by a year after the end of the project, then they must be added to this platform.
Insight Media, has a long history of providing bespoke DC&E strategies for projects over many years and we welcome these changes.
We are experts in the communication and dissemination of project activities and results that lead to clear exploitation potential. Engaging with us at the proposal stage will ensure your project is able to implement a DC&E strategy that fully supports the impressive ambitions of Horizon Europe and the commission’s bold aim for it to deliver significant impact for the European economy and society.
- Keep reading Insight Share for more information about the Key Impact Pathway, tips on getting DC&E right in your proposal and expert guidance on how to communicate project results effectively.