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Timing your grant celebration: finalize your grant agreement first

Imagine you have just received that highly anticipated email which confirms you’ve been awarded the grant you spent numerous hours and sleepless nights on. Isn’t this worth a celebration? Well, almost but not yet. There is still one crucial step to actually get the money into your bank account – and that is finalizing the grant agreement.

Hold on, first things first, we hear you think. What is a grant agreement and why is it important? Essentially, it is the legal document that lays the foundation for all project activities (covered by the grant) seamlessly. This includes the information regarding:

  • Timelines: all relevant dates and phases (e.g. start and end date) of the project
  • Application details: parties involved in the project, project activities, budget details and breakdown
  • Rules from the funding body: deadlines for reporting, timelines for payments, information on handling IP, rules for amendments

Holy grail in case of doubts

Yes, we know how superfluous it can feel having to take another hurdle when you have already proven your worth both in terms of the innovation and business. However, finalizing the grant agreement is crucial as this document is your holy grail whenever you’re in doubt – or worse, when the project is not going as planned. In it are all the details about your project that have been agreed upon, and which you can always refer back to. Also, in case of a large consortium, the agreement ensures all the parties are on the same page. Changes made to the project are incorporated to create a new (modified) grant agreement in the process of an amendment.

Three default steps

Finalizing the grant agreement is eventually a negotiation process between the beneficiaries (in case of a consortium), and between the beneficiaries and the funding agency. The details can vary depending on the type of grant, but roughly there are three steps to take:

  1. Preparation: Depending on the type of grant, the document can either be prepared using a template (e.g. Eureka Eurostars), or by filling sections on the portal itself (e.g. Horizons Europe).
  2. Review: It is crucial to have this document reviewed by all beneficiaries. In certain cases, legal representatives need to look into it, particularly in sections concerning IP and foreground. If something needs to be changed, added, or removed, the new version has to be reshared until all parties agree on the document’s contents.
  3. Signatures and finalization: after the signatures from assigned individuals for each beneficiary are taken, the funding agency has to sign the document. This marks the end of this process.

Accept extra time

Be aware and accept that the finalization between the funding agency and the parties may include some rounds of back and forth. This is because the funding agency may want some changes (see below section) to be incorporated. Easy as the three steps mentioned above may seem, the entire process leading up to signing can still take some 1-3 months – sometimes even longer if changes are needed.

Reasons for delay

Changes to the original plan can still be made in this phase, but only when they don’t change the overall scope of the project. Examples are minor changes to tasks, timelines (i.e. the start date), budget reshuffling, and addition or removal of beneficiaries. Sometimes, changes are necessary because they are suggested by the funding agency themselves – for instance for the evaluation summary of the proposal. Also, the funding agency might realize that the tasks or deliverables don’t necessarily look reasonable. Whatever the reason, changes made at this stage can delay the finalization of the agreement, especially if multiple changes are required.

Tips for a consortium

In case of a consortium, extra attention is needed to avoid or minimize delays. Follow our tips:

  1. Be aware of the rules and templates from the respective funding agency for this process, for instance very specific rules regarding people assigned for the signatures. If this is missing, it should be done quickly as it can take quite a while.
  2. If possible, avoid making changes at this stage. If something can be left to monitor over time, that should be prioritized as to avoid delays in finalizing the agreement.
  3. Ensure good communication between all parties involved. Even one party that disagrees with proposed changes can already cause huge delays in this phase. Worst case, the party needs to be removed or replaced.

FFUND for a smooth and efficient process

At FFUND, we not only guide you through the guidelines in detail, but also provide the templates and help you with the signature process. In case of necessary changes, we make sure the process runs smooth and efficient, ensuring everyone’s satisfaction and timely completion. Through clear, concise communication, structured planning, and a proactive approach, we facilitate seamless coordination amongst consortium members. Do you need help in the preparation of your grant agreement? Take a look at the Project management page or contact us directly via

About the author
Picture of Ilina Bareja

Ilina Bareja