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The impact section in your Horizon Europe proposal is the one causing you the most pain and you have probably let it aside until the end. Here is a guide about how to deal with the impact section of your Horizon Europe proposal.

Impact is not project results

What is expected in the impact section of a Horizon Europe proposal is not very clear and you might come to the conclusion that the impact of a project is its results. It is actually not exactly the case. Let us remind you the different components of a project idea:

  • Why the project is necessary? Because of a challenge faced by certain people. Tackling the challenge is the overall objective of your project.
  • What the project will achieve? Each of its achievements is a specific objective.
  • How will the project achieve its specific objectives? This is the concept (general approach) and the methodology (detailed process). The way the methodology is organised is the work plan.
  • What change will the achievement of the objectives bring? This is the impact!

The impact refers therefore to the consequences of the project results. Consequences on the society, the economy, research communities, policy makers etc. The impact is a change and the change has a magnitude. The impact is the value that the project has. This is the main reason why the European Commission should fund your project because remember, Horizon Europe is above all the Commission’s instrument to fund research projects to help them in their policies. Reason why you should pay attention to how you write your impact section.

The impact is mostly about the future

Even if some of the project’s impact can be experienced during its duration, most of it will come after the project’s completion. The project’s outputs should have a life after the project is finished. Yet, it is hard to anticipate it, which is why writing the impact section is so hard. Do not worry if you take a prospective mode when writing the impact, but make it as evidenced and quantified as possible (see next point). And be very specific when describing the impact.

The impact should be measured

As previously said, the impact is a (hopefully) positive change induced by the project’s results on various aspects of the society. The change can and must be measured. This is why it is highly recommended to define key performance indicators (KPIs) for impact assessment. There should be a KPI for each of the expected impacts and a target value set in a time frame.

The impact will be experienced by a targeted audience

The changes caused by the project will be felt by some specific audiences that you must clearly identify. It is highly likely that there will be several groups of people impacted by your project among:

  • Research communities
  • The public
  • Economic actors such as businesses
  • Political institutions

When defining the KPIs and their targets, also think about each targeted audience to be as exhaustive as possible.

Go beyond the expected impacts as set in the work programme

It is highly convenient that the call text provides a list of expected impacts. You should definitely describe how your project will reach them, but do not restrict yourself to them. Think in a broader term such as environmental impact, employment, social issues, competitiveness etc. but keep specific.

Once you have described the impact, it is easier to create a dissemination, exploitation and communication plan

It is easier because you have defined two important features of these plans: what will be disseminated and to whom. You can learn more about setting your communication plan in our communication plan article and about IP in our intellectual property article. We’ll soon publish another article about the data management plan.


We hope that it is now clearer to you what impact is and how important for your proposal evaluation it is.