RIKKE BECAME A COORDINATOR AND SUBMITTED A SUCCESSFUL HORIZON EUROPE APPLICATION – DESPITE NO GREAT PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE
Associate Professor Rikke Toft Nørgård from DPU was invited to join a newly started consortium, and she was asked whether she would take on the role of coordinator for a Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Action (RIA) under cluster 2: "Culture, creativity and inclusive society". She had her doubts – was she far enough ahead in her career? Was she the right person? Did she have time?
And above all, what about her lack of experience with project management? Many from AU advised against it at first, and suggested that she instead started with an FKK application, for example. But after further encouragement from the consortium, and a few sleepless nights, she decided to take the plunge into the project design and application work and take on the leadership role. And it paid off – approx. DKK 23 million!
Three months to the application deadline
The application process was very intense. When Rikke Toft Nørgård finally accepted the coordinator role, the consortium had three months to write the application and find the last partners. Luckily, some of the partners had extensive experience in writing applications, and Rikke Toft Nørgård had the project idea, which she stuck with all the way.
“There were many different disciplines and competences in the consortium. Some were very savvy about the application specifics, and they could transform what I had written into models, tables and KPIs. On the other hand, I was good at sticking to the idea and the complexity. There were a great many types of knowledge and project approaches at play, with 12 partners from the creative industries, cultural centres, as well as policy and research institutions. This led to tension and much discussion, but with the help of weekly meetings, constant dialogue, and managed integration in the project description, it was actually productive. However, it could also have sent things in every possible direction and everything could have fallen apart had we not gathered it all in one clear narrative," says Rikke Toft Nørgård.
What’s this ’game’ like?
She set up a small team from the consortium with a lot of application experience, who could translate the project idea into the language of the EU. For example, as Rikke Toft Nørgård says, writing a good impact section can be a challenge. "It was really good to have other people's application experience: especially given that mine was so limited. They dissected what I had written, asked about it in detail and systematised it into elements, giving it transparency and clear EU logic. In this context, my limited experience actually helped me to be a good listener and humble, but on the other hand I was not caught up in a preconception of what an EU project 'should look like', and I therefore insisted on taking charge of the project's humanistic approach, methodology and results.” Rikke Toft Nørgård also highlights the crucial local assistance she received from AU; both from DPU for the application, and from the Research Support Office with regard to decisions, management, budget design and wording the application. “It would never have been possible without them,” she says.
Four tips from Rikke Toft Nørregård about the role of coordinator:
Read more about the project in an article here.