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Radboud Horizon Europe Stories - success of the FLOW project, as told by Dorri te Boekhorst, project coordinator and Riyan van den Born, associate professor Socio-Ecological Interaction.

Date of news: 10 July 2023

Future Lives with Oceans and Waters (FLOW)

In contribution to the EU mission Restore our Oceans and Waters by 2030, FLOW is an international and interdisciplinary project studying young generations’ relations and engagement with water and oceans, their expectations, and emotions. FLOW brings together policy makers, researchers, and water stakeholders with the youth and engages them in co-creation of stewardship assemblages. The project’s innovative design brings together diverse young people from across Europe and empowers them to directly interact with marine and freshwater stakeholders from the fields of policy, blue economy, and innovation and research.

An interview with Dorri te Boekhorst, project coordinator and Riyan van den Born, associate professor Socio-Ecological Interaction.

What makes Horizon Europe specifically important as a funding opportunity?

Dorri: “Horizon Europe is an excellent way to build international consortia and work together on furthering knowledge and innovation in the European Research Area. Many of the research opportunities are designed to commit to the European Unions’ ambitions in combatting global societal challenges. It is an excellent way to strengthen your scientific network and to have societal (and policy) impact of research and innovation results.”

Riyan: “For me as a researcher it offers the opportunity to collaborate with international colleagues and to do international comparative research on topics that are relevant on a European level.”

How has your own research benefitted from the Horizon Europe grant?

Riyan: “It gives you the opportunity to significantly develop your research, to become visible on these topics, to collaborate with interesting international partners, to hire PhD’s and/or post-docs, and to gather interesting data on a European scale that form the basis of several publications.”

How did the grant support team help you in proposal writing? What support services were most useful at the faculty and central level?

Riyan: “When you are the coordinator of the project you receive a lot of support. The Radboud Innovation Science (RIS) (on the faculty level) supported me with the financial, management, and ethical aspects of the project. For instance, by thinking about the division of PM’s, the budget, planning the deliverables, communication with the potential partners, and providing us with a thorough review of an earlier draft of the proposal. The cooperation between grant advisors from the central office and faculty office also proved useful.”

Why do you think your proposal was selected? What are the ingredients for a successful EU-funded project?

Riyan: “Together the partners cover the expertise needed on both the main topics of the call and the methods needed. We believe our approach included innovative theories, concepts, and methodological approaches. We also set up a collaboration with societal stakeholders, which makes the project more societally relevant. Also, the help of RIS by providing us with a review helped us to improve the proposal concerning the weakest points.”

Dorri: “The proposal combines an excellent research outline for the requested topic, with a consortium that is strong, complementary, and answers to the topic’s needs.”

What tips would you give to other researchers to make use of available EU funding?

Riyan: “When grant support knows what kind of calls are interesting for you, they can help you with suggestions. Once you decide to write a proposal, start in time, build a strong consortium, and meet with the partners several times (online) to discuss the main ideas. Do not just divide who writes which part. Furthermore, ask for support on the financial, management, ethical aspects, and all other aspects of writing proposals.”

Dorri: “If you are the coordinator of an application, connect in an early stage with the colleagues from RIS, as they can support in financial and administrative matters, but also in writing impact and (co-)designing your project to the requirements of the specific funding instrument. I would also encourage postdoctoral researchers to contact the central grant support office, because they have dedicated support that can make much difference.”