EIT Health Germany Blog

How to prepare for the EIT Health Hearings – Insights from an Innovation and Project Manager

With the Hearings for the next Business Plan beginning this week, our very own Innovation and Project Manager, Nandor Gaus, reveals what to expect, how to prepare and what evaluators are looking out for.

 

After weeks or even months of working on your EIT Health BP 2022 proposal, your project or activity has now been invited to the Hearings. So, what can you expect in the Hearings, and what is expected from you?

 

What are the EIT Health Hearings?

The purpose of the Hearings is to make a final decision on which proposals to include in the EIT Health 2022 Business Plan. Together with the first part of the EIT Health selection process, the Remote Evaluation, the suitability of activities is examined via a set of overarching criteria, including Project Excellence & Strategic Fit, Implementation and Impact and Financial Sustainability. The latter is increasingly important as a certain level of co-funding is expected across our pillar portfolios.

However, the (currently) most decisive factor in getting successfully funded are the Hearings – their score weighs three times as much as the score from the Remote Evaluation. Therefore, it is worthwhile to prepare as carefully as possible.

 

The perfect team – experts working together

The Hearings now take place online (an effect of the pandemic), with panels consisting of up to 5 international experts. The invited team consists of the Activity Leader plus a maximum of three other members, preferably representing other consortium partners. I would advise you to have all necessary team members on board to be able to cover the key aspects of the activity. For an Innovation project for example this could include project management, technology, clinical, market/business and regulatory (for SAI/Amplifier projects, the main representative of the start-up must also be part of the max. 4 participants).

Nota bene: participating team members should be actively involved in the Q&A part; “solo shows” are usually not perceived well by evaluators (but pay attention – active, yet not well-aligned partners are not perceived well by evaluators either).

 

Final steps before the Hearings

The external independent evaluators prepare for the Hearings by collecting the information from the proposals, and especially from the condensed information provided in the mandatory Hearing slide decks and pitch decks. Additionally, they consider the analysis and recommendations from the remote evaluation.

On the applicant’s team side, whatever your modus operandi might be in getting prepared for the Hearings: Please make sure you (and your pitching team!) have read and understood the short Hearings guideline provided by your respective central office pillar team, before kicking off your preparation efforts.

 

Showtime: Your mission in the EIT Health Hearings

In the Hearings your team’s mission is to present your proposal to the Evaluation Board, consistently building on what you have submitted (full proposal, mandatory Hearing slide deck, mandatory pitch deck etc.) and creating a convincing story from the same mould. Avoid discrepancies, discontinuities, and logical breaks to information previously provided (unless they are a necessary improvement or correction; in that case, this might entail follow-up questions). Any recommendations or important comments made by the remote evaluator should already be reflected in the presentation or at least in the Q&A. This demonstrates that your team have conscientiously reviewed, digested, and incorporated them, if and where appropriate.

Define the most relevant points to present to create a “convincing story” and avoid losing yourselves over all single items (aka “Death by Powerpoint”). While making sure that all mandatory slides/topics are covered, a best practice is to select a few slides that fit into the ~20-minute slot, keeping in mind that “one slide per minute” is the usual recommended presentation pace. Then, have any additional number of slides that cover all other relevant topics as backup slides. And lest not forget: It is not enough to speak about scientific excellence – your presentation should be more like a Start-up pitch in front of investors, rather than a typical scientific conference talk.

 

Your guiding stars in a nutshell

As diverse as your projects or activities are, as are the points most relevant to your “convincing story”. But: There are some overarching guiding questions, which evaluators want to understand, and which should be a common thread throughout the different parts of your pitch:

  • Why now? – the need, urgency
  • Why this solution / this activity? – your USP (unique selling point)
  • Why will you succeed? – your pathway to sustainability, and the value of your partnership
  • Your promise to EIT Health? – your strategic fit and value proposition for EIT Health

In the end, broken down and simplified to one single question: the decisive point is whether or not evaluators will be convinced that your specific activity’s relevance and impact is worthwhile to invest European taxpayers’ money in.

 

Perseverance is key

With all above said, sometimes even the best possible preparation and performance result in a negative funding decision. While this will naturally come as a disappointment, this means in no way that the activity is not worth it or that your team has done a bad job. You have been invited to the Hearings, and that per definition is already sign enough that your activity potentially fulfils all of EIT Health’s requirements. The point is: The available EIT budget allows only for so many activities. Thus, we encourage our partners and applicants to utilise a rejection as a learning and maturing experience and gear up for a new run-through in the next Business Plan.