Tips for having a great Horizon Europe project kick-off meeting - Part I.

An excellent opportunity to give you a list of things to consider when preparing (for) your Horizon Europe kick-off meeting!

Author: Maria Beatriz Rosell

This is the season... Of Horizon Europe project kick-offs! And an excellent opportunity to give you a list of things to consider when preparing (for) this big event.
Save this list even if you don't need it right now, and stay tuned for part II for logistics matters. Good luck kicking off your kick-off!

- During the Grant Agreement preparation phase, and before getting started with the kick-off meeting preparation, organise a call with your Project Officer to get to know each other and discuss challenges, expectations, and availability to attend the kick-off meeting.

- Communicate the importance of having a first face-to-face meeting with the partners. We all know that it is more sustainable to have online meetings to save on cost and reduce carbon footprint, which is a relevant factor to consider if you are implementing a project on environmental protection and climate change. However, for the kick-off meeting, try to avoid giving the option to have a hybrid meeting. The hybrid option will fit the M6 or future project meetings.

Suppose there are important presentations to be made by external parties (sister projects, initiatives, or Policy Officer). In that case, you can request them to record a video/presentation in advance and present it during the meeting.

Decide which repository system your project will use (SharePoint, Google Drive, internal website, Teams, etc.), train yourself and prepare a PPT guide for partners on how to use the system. Then, start populating it with relevant information! 

Set the date for the meeting date as earlier as possible (5-6 months in advance). Even if you are dealing with details about the Grant Agreement Preparation, start circulating a doodle among partners with at least 5 or 6 options. Doing this will show partners you are a good planner and flexible in finding a suitable date for all or the majority. A kick-off meeting duration is a minimum of 1 ½ days. Another advantage of setting the dates in advance is that your chances to have the Project Officer and possibly a Policy Officer at your kick-off meeting will be higher.

- If possible, agree with the communication and dissemination leader about basic elements of the visual identity to have the logo, PPT, and word templates ready before the meeting. Try to avoid consulting with the whole consortium about this.

Prepare a draft agenda to circulate among partners and Project Officer. Kick-off project meetings usually have a similar structure. You can always check another agenda for inspiration if your institution is coordinating another Horizon Europe project. Try to structure the agenda by responding to the questions like When/What/Who.

Consider the following discussion points (What) for the agenda: welcome and opening, partners introduction (tour de table), Project Officer presentations, Policy Officer (if attending), project overview by the coordinator, and ALL WPs presentations.

Consider also adding discussion slots (at least two slots) to talk about pressing issues, project implementation, and challenges to overcome. Finally, allocate a separate time slot for ethical requirements.

Depending on the project, you might need to allocate resources to appoint an independent Ethics Advisor. Also, allocate time for a discussion about the project advisory board (if the project has an advisory board), synergies with other projects, and the next steps in the project implementation.

- For the opening/welcome part, consider an ice-breaker activity. If your group is large (30+ people), consider a trivia /funny questions using Mentimeter / SLIDO questions. If the group is smaller (20 or fewer people), consider a game where partners can get to know each other better.

- Prepare a document with relevant traveling and logistic information. For example, how to get to the venue, reach the city center from the airport, accommodation options, and maps of where the venue and project dinner will take place. Also, add landmarks of the city/tourist and traveling tips such as e.g., money exchange. We often call this document project meeting INFO PACK.

-  Practice the pre-Kick-off meeting online discussion with the whole consortium: Having at least one previous online conversation with the consortium is advisable before the kick-off meeting. Ideally, 3 to 2 weeks before the meeting, to remind partners about pending administrative issues (such as bringing original copies of the signed Consortium Agreement, etc.).

- Read the rules about cost eligibility carefully. Remind everybody about the travel budget and what costs are eligible connected to the kick-off meeting, and prepare to answer a lot of emails! It is good to remind partners to follow the rules established in the Grant Agreement as well as the Annotated Model Grant Agreement.

Prepare a press release for all partners to announce the kick-off meeting and project launch. You can delegate this to the communication and dissemination work package leader. If this is done in advance, partners could translate it into the local language.

Give partners a deadline to send their presentations (one week in advance). Of course, not everybody will send their presentation, but you want to avoid having to save a presentation from a pen drive on the day of the meeting or right before the presenter’s speech.

Don’t forget about the registration form! To be on the safe side, print two copies and make them sign them.

Material for social media: Take the opportunity that you are altogether to make videos of the partners, and don’t forget to take group pictures. After the meeting, you can use photos or videos in multiple ways.

Prepare the meeting minutes, including information such as: who was present, what was discussed, critical points, and action points. Also, include a signed list of participants and the final agenda as annexes. Preparing this document should not take more than a week after the meeting has taken place.

With this post, we have tried to encompass as much as possible, but keep in mind that at Europa Media, we provide continuous support in project management via different activities:

1. Training courses that deal with:
- first months of your new Horizon Europe project,
- project management and reporting, and
- finances.

2. and consultancy services.


Read the 2nd part of this series here.

Tips for having a great Horizon Europe project kick-off meeting - Part I.