Secrets for winning a grant and coping when losing it – Key messages

Last Friday 11 September 2020, our 2nd Lunch talk had more than 60 registrants for our special guest Prof. Mathieu Vinken. He shared his own experience of 10-15 years on preparing and submitting grant proposal to participants  from all over the world! Not exclusive to the field of Toxicology, tips and advices given in this blog can help Scientists interested in 3Rs, motivated to apply for a scientific grant!

Please find a summary of Prof. Mathieu Vinken’s key messages  in 5 points:

How to win a grant?

Niche specific expertise

Project management  

Good networking skills

More than the 3 superpowers discussed by Prof. Vinken during the Lunch talk, a good CV is the key to success when researchers apply for a grant!

A Good CV: you probably know the 3Rs but have your heard about The “3Is”! 3 criteria to meet as a contemporary scientist


“Go out of your comfort zone”


“Make yourself visible”


“Get out of your academic environment “

  • European Level


– ERC (Bottom-up Approach)

– Ted-e Tendering platform (for EU tender calls from ECHA,  EFSA, JRC…)

– Marie Sklowdoska Curie Actions (Horizon 2020)

  • International level

DC 3Rs : The inventory of 3Rs Knowledge sources => check the funding under “purposes”

  • NGO 

– Cefic LRi (long-range Research initiative from European Chemical Industry Council)

  • Use your personal and collaborators network first! 

Scientist with niches specific skills are the key, if you still couldn’t find the right collaborators on your own network, you can also look at IPubmed, etc.

  • Good transferable skills to manage your team are needed to lead your consortium to succes
  • One consortium team – One concept

To keep a consistent idea of the concept guiding your proposal and to avoid writing a Frankenstein’s one – Write it yourself! 

  • “Put yourself in reviewers shoes”
  1. Follow the Matrix :have a look at the list of criteria used by reviewers to evaluate your grant proposal
  2. Make your proposal easy to read for reviewers and help them identify quickly the evaluation criteria from the Matrix! Use tables – graphical abstract – visuals – summary figures – etc.  to express your key messages : What are the challenges? What are the risky steps? How this can have a real impact? etc.
  • Contingency plan
  1. Anticipate and identify what could go wrong
  2. Include preliminary data analysis in your proposal (more for ERC grant)
  3. Identify the critical step and come up with a gradual plan B
  • Stay persistent and learn from failure
  • Looking at the evaluation report when available may help you understanding what went wrong
  • A proposal can be recycled for another grant!

“You only fail when you stop trying”

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