In Horizon Europe, as it was in Horizon 2020, beneficiaries have the responsibility and obligation to exploit their research & innovation (R&I) results on a "best efforts" approach.
A novelty in Horizon Europe is that, if beneficiaries are not able to exploit their own R&I results, they are encouraged to find a third party to do so. If there is no exploitation of their R&I results by the beneficiary within one year of the end of the project, then the beneficiary must use the Horizon Results Platform to make their exploitable results visible.
Furthermore, for the following three years, beneficiaries will need to complete a structured questionnaire to report on their exploitation progress, including their needs and identifying any obstacles on their path for exploitation. It is expected that the questionnaire will be part of the online grant management system and will remain open for four years after the end of the project, when a final report will be created. The emphasis will be on continuous reporting during that period.
UKRO understands that the Commission also plans to make additional funding available for continued dissemination and exploitation (D&E) activities after the end of the project, although details are yet to be announced. Early information suggests that the Commission will primarily rely on existing initiatives such as the Horizon Results Booster and Innovation Radar to support the D&E efforts of the beneficiary after the project ends.
Drafting the D&E plan in your proposal
In Horizon Europe, D&E is part of the Key Impact Pathway approach, used by the Commission to demonstrate the project's contribution to the impact on society. It cuts across the whole project lifecycle, from proposal submission until four years after the end of the project. During the proposal submission process, applicants must submit a short description of their D&E activities together with their impact pathways. The full D&E and Communications plan must be submitted (as a deliverable) within the first six months of the project.
The short description of D&E activities must be included in Part B under Section 2.2 "Measures to maximise impact - Dissemination, exploitation and communication".
Elements to consider when drafting your D&E plan include:
Planned D&E measures to maximise the impact of your project that are proportionate to the scale of the project, that contain concrete actions to be implemented during and after the end of the project and planned according to the draft timeline.
Identifying target group to be addressed (e.g. scientific community, end users, financial actors, public at large), what is the proposed channel to interact with them? What is the function of the target group? How do they contribute to maximising the impact?
Possible follow-up plan once the project has finished to foster exploitation/uptake of results.
Potential feedback to policy measures generated by the project that will contribute towards existing policy measures and implementing new policy measures.
It is important to note that the short D&E plan is mandatory for all calls in Horizon Europe, unless specifically stated within the Work Programme.
Obligations of the beneficiary to exploit their results
The draft Horizon Europe Model Grant Agreement includes two articles that specifically address D&E: Article 35 – Exploitation and Dissemination, which states that beneficiaries "shall use its best efforts to exploit the results it owns, or to have them exploited by another legal entity" and Article 46 – Information, communication, publicity and dissemination and exploitation, which states that "The Commission shall also establish a dissemination and exploitation strategy for increasing the availability and diffusion of the Programme's research and innovation R&I results and knowledge to accelerate exploitation towards market uptake and boost the impact of the Programme".
Definitions of Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation
The Commission uses the following definitions:
- Communication – Taking strategic and targeted measures for promoting the action itself and its results to a multitude of audiences, including the media and the public, and possibly engaging in a two-way exchange.
- Dissemination – The public disclosure of the results by appropriate means, other than resulting from protecting or exploiting the results, including by scientific publications in any medium.
- Exploitation – The use of results in further research and innovation activities, including among other things, commercial exploitation such as developing, creating, manufacturing and marketing a product or process, creating and providing a service, or in standardisation and policy making activities.