How to read an EU Societal Challenge call text

Don’t start writing a grant proposal unless your idea fits the call. This general rule definitely applies to European Societal Challenge calls. But how do you make sure you understand what is needed to make an offer they can’t refuse?

RIA IA CSA call text interpretation with magnifying glass

Disclaimer: This blog was written in the context of Europe’s earlier framework programme Horizon 2020. Parts of it may be outdated. Contact us for up-to-date information.

The Societal Challenges pillar of the European Horizon2020 programme consists of top-down calls. The topic texts are the end result of many rounds of consultations and negotiations, so be assured that every word that ends up in the final text really – really – counts.


The specific challenge in the call topic text introduces the problem and the challenge to be addressed in your proposal. Of course, the main aim of your proposal needs to clearly link to the specific challenge.


In the topic scope, you can read what type of research is proposed to address the challenge. It tells you specifically what is expected of you in terms of methodology, disciplines, target group, analysis, etc. Make sure that in your project, you address all of the items listed in this (sometimes very elaborate) description. The scope also tells you which additional partners you may need in your consortium, as you need their expertise to convincingly address the complete scope of the call topic.


The expected impact briefly indicates the proposed solution to the challenge and what you are expected to achieve with your project. This usually goes (way) beyond scientific knowledge alone. Working with relevant stakeholders is therefore essential. Critically ask yourself whether your proposed project can deliver the full expected impact as defined by the call. And then think about what specific results you need in order to be able to deliver this impact.

Matching your research idea with the call

Deciding whether or not to submit a research proposal for a specific call can be challenging. Fundament can discuss the current match between your idea and the call, and advise you on the changes or additions needed to optimize this match. Interested? Plan in a (free) brainstorm session!

Author: Neeltje Peters

Co-founder and Research Funding Professional at Fundament.

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