The European Commission will pilot two new mechanisms in the evaluation process foreseen in the Horizon Europe Implementation Strategy. The novelties will be tested in a few early calls in 2021 and any wider roll-out will depend on the pilot outcomes.
'Right to react'
- This novelty will consist of an additional step between the individual evaluations and the consensus meeting, where individual evaluation reports will be made available on the Funding and Tenders Portal, giving the applicants a limited window to comment on the initial statements made by the evaluators.
- The objective is to clarify any misunderstandings rather than to allow the applicants to submit additional information. The experts will then be required to consider this input before finalising the final Evaluation Summary Reports. Such a scheme should also increase the quality and level of detail in the feedback given to applicants.
- The upcoming European Innovation Council Pathfinder call has already been selected for this 'rebuttal pilot'. The applicants in this call will have seven calendar days to reply to the evaluators' comments on a maximum of two A4 pages. The reply will be made available to the evaluation committee, which will be composed of external independent experts different from those who evaluated the proposals remotely at step one of the evaluation process. The committee will decide on the final score based on the remote score and the outcome of its consensus discussions, taking into consideration any comments from the rebuttal procedure.
- The Commission will extend the pilot to 2-3 additional calls, which are yet to be confirmed.
- Although the Commission underlines that there is no evidence of the expert evaluators being biased towards well-established institutions from countries with strong R&I systems, anonymous stage one proposals will be tested in one or more two-stage calls.
- The 'blind evaluation' approach means that at stage one of the evaluation process the applicants' identity will not be revealed to the experts. The second stage, in which full proposals are submitted, will not be anonymised though.
- This measure is being proposed partly as a response to voices from some countries that are underrepresented in Horizon 2020 (so-called 'widening countries').
- The topics and calls for the pilot have not yet been identified and communicated.