Funding News

We were surprised to learn that fewer ITNs were submitted in 2018 when compared to previous years. With the increased budget, we predicted the success rate to increase. Unfortunately, we were wrong. To get a broader understanding on how this situation came to be we’ve spent the past days diving into spreadsheets and analysing the numbers.

Ad the grant preparations for the newly approved proposals only started two weeks ago ITN 2018 consortia have not yet signed the EC Grant Agreement. There might still be changes to the total numbers if projects need to be replaced by proposals with lower or higher requested EC funding that are currently on the waiting list. However, big changes should not be expected and we assume the statements made in this article will still be valid once the projects start. We can’t guarantee this will be the case but we’re confident it will be.

Promised budget and actual funding

Our hypothesis for the decreased success rate was the following: Either the EC hasn`t distributed the allocated budget according to the Work Programme 2018 in full and retains some reserve or projects are requesting more funding. Our first analysis looked at the promised and actual budget for ITN 2018. The budget was meant to increase by €12 million to a total of €442 million. The requested funding of all approved ITN 2018 stands at €422,614,046. With that we confirmed our assumption. The actual funding was significantly lower than the promised budget. As a matter of fact, the actual budget is lower than that promised for ITN-2017 (€430 million).

Year 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

Promised budget






Actual budget






promised and actual funding for itns

As is clearly seen in the table above, the EC has previously committed significantly more funds on ITNs than planned. This year was the first year that the actual budget is lower than the promised budget since 2014.

Higher requested funding

Our second analysis looked at the average requested funding across the years. While researching recent projects on CORDIS we’ve noticed that consortia are increasingly requesting a higher budget. For this comparison we’ve again looked at all funded ITNs since 2014:







Average funding (ETN + EID + EJD)






Average funding (ETN)






Average funding (EID)






Average funding (EJD)






With that, our second hypothesis is also confirmed. ITNs are, on average, requesting more funding compared to previous years. With that said, had the promised budget been payed out, at least 5 further ITNs could have been funded (based on the difference between the actual/promised budget and the average requested funding). Would that have been the case, the success rate for ITNs 2018 could have risen to 7.7% (it actually was 7.4%), this would have still been a lower success rate than in previous years.

Tougher competition

The competition for funding is fierce and it appears that proposals are steadily increasing in quality. The percentage of proposals above the threshold has reached a new high at 88%. This year, ETNs needed a score of 93-96 (CHE: 95-96, ENG: 94-65, ENV: 96-97, ENV: 95-96, LIFE: 93, PHY: 94-95, SOC: 95-96) to be within the funding range, whilst EJDs needed 94-95 and EIDs 90-91.







Percentage of proposals above threshold






What to expect in ITN 2019

This year has taught us not to be too sure of our speculations when it comes to ITN results. What we do know though is that the promised budget will see yet another increase. Next year, there will be a total of €470 million available to researchers. If we were to assume that in 2017 we reached the peak for ITN submissions, we could expect an increased success rate. That was what we expected this year. For the past 4 years (including 2018) ETN success-rates between 7.5% and 8.5% have been what we’ve come to expect and we might see that continue.













ITN 2019 and accelopment

What started out back in 2008 during the 7th Framework Programme with the Initial Training Networks HEALING, SYSWIND, REFINE and TRAIN-ASAP as well as the NeoGel European Industrial Doctorates (EID) programme, has become a long history of supporting training networks since. Our success has not halted with the transition to Horizon 2020, in which we successfully support the Horizon 2020 European Training Networks (ETNs) ClickGene, EXCILIGHT, PEARRL, Train2Target, LightDyNAmics and ImmerSAFE and are involved in three more successful Innovative Training Networks (ITN) funded in the 2018 call (two more ETNs and one EID). Our first role typically is to support the proposal writing and to execute the grant preparations with the EC. Then, during the project implementation, we work as a Partner Organisation assisting in project management tasks, coordinating the dissemination activities and/or contributing to the training activities with Transferable Skills Workshops. More details are available on our website.