Support for the professionalisation of research management (HORIZON-WIDERA-2024-ERA-01-03)

  • Action type: HORIZON-CSA HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions
  • Opening date: 6 December 2023
  • Closing time: 12 March 2024 17:00 (Europe/Brussels)
  • Budget per project: € 1 000 000 of total € 1 000 000
  • Estimated number of projects funded: 1
  • Official website


This action aims to contribute to improve the European R&I system across the entire ERA by particularly strengthening the capacity for research management in the European Union’s public research performing and funding organisations. Actions are expected to:

  • Involve a large number of public research performing and research funding organisations and their research management staff in the training and networking programmes, including by improving accessibility for staff from regions of lower R&I intensity;
  • Improve training, skills and career development of research management staff in the participating organisations;
  • Contribute to professionalisation, including through certification of training programmes;
  • Increase recognition of the research management profession in Member States and the important role of research managers across the ERA.

Strengthen research management capacity and support for a Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach across the entire ERA, including in regions of lower R&I intensity.

Research management takes various shapes across the ERA (and beyond), and therefore its definition/scope is multi-dimensional, including but not limited to the following roles: research policy advice, evidence-based policy making, foresight and strategy development; research coordination, research development, research project and funding management, financial support; evaluation and assessment support; research and complementary training programme management; data-based research support, such as data stewards and data analysts, exploitation of research data, data protection; specialised research infrastructure operation; scientific integrity and ethics expertise, gender perspective support, legal support; science communication support; knowledge transfer and innovation support, knowledge brokering, incubator coordination and business development. In particular, the aim of this action is to further develop and implement a methodology to identify, train and ‘professionalise’ individuals who are essential support for the ‘research enterprise’.

There is a strong need for creating sustained pan-European research management training – both in virtual and in non-virtual curricula. This would help to create solid networks of early career and experienced managers that will last throughout their careers, in the various dimensions of research management for which such opportunities do not yet exist. Secondly, research performing and funding entities, local ecosystems, and regions that are strong in knowledge creation and circulation usually rely on a strong community of research managers. An important challenge for the European R&I system in this respect is the uneven distribution of research management communities and expertise across the ERA. Lower R&I intense countries, regions, institutions often lack such communities, or do not have sufficient access to expertise. Thirdly, the need for new skills is constantly evolving, and upskilling of staff requires ready access to training and practice exchange platforms and across the ERA. Fourthly, there seems to be a lack of recognition of research management as a profession, compared to other policy sectors. Similarly, accreditation of training and career development programmes for research managers in the diverse specialisations is lacking.

This call intends to support initiatives towards flexible careers for research managers and career diversification of R&I talents towards research management. Actions should create joint virtual and non-virtual training programmes and curricula for research managers and prepare the road to certification and accreditation. Actions should take measures to realise equal opportunities for access to training programmes for staff from across the entire ERA, including from regions with lower R&I intensity.

The call addresses also support for virtual and non-virtual networks of research managers from public research performing and funding organisations at European level, as well as cross-border European operational networks (existing or new), complementing and coordinating existing national initiatives. Focus could be put on equal access for staff to such networks and exchanges, building capacity in regions and institutions of lower R&I intensity.


Horizon Europe has a new level of ambition – to maximise the impact of the European Union’s research and innovation funding for European science, the economy and the wider society. It marks a paradigm change in the design of the European R&I framework programmes (FP) from an activity-driven to an impact-driven programme. Coupled to this ambition is the relaunch of the European Research Area (ERA) as described in the Commission Communication “A new ERA for Research and Innovation” (COM/2020/628 final of 30.09.2020).

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of R&I cooperation to provide solutions to society’s most demanding needs. With the priority on delivering Europe’s recovery as well as on the green and digital twin transitions, a new level of ambition, linking R&I better with the economy, and with education and training, is needed to match these challenges and put scientific knowledge to work.

The new ERA calls for deepening existing priorities and creating new initiatives by strengthening the mobility of researchers and the free flow of knowledge and technology, to improve access to excellence, boost market uptake and prioritise investment and reform. Working together has been the philosophy of the ERA since its launch; however, the green and digital transitions and the COVID recovery call for more and closer cooperation between the Commission, the Member States and stakeholders. They require the setting of new priorities, launching ambitious joint initiatives and developing common approaches between policies.

To address these requirements, Destination 3 of part 11 of the Horizon Europe work programme will support efforts to reform and enhance the European R&I system. Destination 3 is built around four strands corresponding to the four objectives set out in the ERA Communication:

  1. Prioritising investments and reforms in research and innovation;
  2. Improving access to excellence, progressing towards excellence across the whole EU and striving for stronger research and innovation systems;
  3. Translating R&I results into the economy to meet the digital and green transition objectives, and boost the resilience and competitiveness of our economies and societies;
  4. Deepening the ERA, to further progress the free circulation of knowledge and to ensure an upgraded, efficient and effective R&I system.

The principle of excellence, meaning that the best researchers with the best ideas that offer the best solutions to the societal challenges obtain funding, remains the cornerstone for all investments under the ERA.

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