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European Research Executive Agency
News article24 April 2023European Research Executive Agency

Unlocking Twinning: a funding programme elevating networking for scientific excellence

Discover how research institutions and beneficiaries from Widening countries cooperate with advanced partners to exchange best practices under the Twinning programme and how to apply. 

Twinning 2023
© European Union, 2023; Image source: Canva

Collaboration is always at the heart of scientific research and innovation. That is why one of the Widening Participation main actions, the Twinning programme, encourages institutions to work together.  

Part of the Horizon Europe Widening Participation and Spreading Excellence actions, the Twinning programme aims to strengthen research and innovation performance in Widening countries by enhancing cooperation with advanced partners. This cooperation is implemented via networking and training activities such as workshops, conferences, staff exchanges, summer/winter schools, and other supporting actions. 

What is Twinning? 

Twinning is a funding opportunity that enhances networking activities between a research institution of a Widening country, that must coordinate the project, and top-class leading European and international counterparts. Widening research institutions link with at least two other research institutions from two different member states or associated countries. This has the ultimate purpose of building on the huge potential of networking for excellence through knowledge transfers and exchange of best practices. 

What’s new? 

This year’s call for proposals focuses on two topics, allowing the “classic” bottom-up proposals, and proposals in line with the European Green Deal. Both topics aim for the same objectives, scope and expected impact. 

Applicants will have to exclusively submit their proposals under one of the following topics:  

Topic A: The Twinning Bottom-Up 

Topic B: The Twinning Green Deal  

What should you know before applying? 

First, make sure to check the eligibility conditions and the expected outcomes in the Work Programme. This tip is essential when applying for any Horizon Europe funding opportunity and it could get you instantly closer to the desired outcome. 

Second, always keep in mind the expected project results:  

  • closing the still apparent research and innovation gap within the European Union; 
  • enhancing strategic networking activities between the research institutions and the internationally-leading counterparts; 
  • raising reputation, research profile and attractiveness of the coordinating institution and the research profile of its staff; 
  • strengthening research management capacities and administrative skills of the staff at the coordinating institution; 
  • improving creativity supported by development of new approaches in Research and Innovation collaboration and increased mobility (inwards and outwards) of qualified scientists. 

When specifically applying for the Twinning Green Deal topic, remember to focus on a defined area of research / innovation directly linked to at least one of the actions listed in the European Green Deal strategy: climate research, green technologies, renewable energy, sustainable mobility, biodiversity research or sustainable use of natural resources (land, water, air).  

For both proposal topics, remember that the duration of the projects should be up to 3 years. This means the proposal should have a clearly outlined scientific strategy, for stepping up and stimulating scientific excellence and innovation capacity in a defined area of research and innovation. This extends to the scientific quality of the partners involved in the twinning exercise. 

The strategy should include a comprehensive set of activities to be supported, for example: short-term staff exchanges; expert visits and short term on-site or virtual training; workshops; conference attendance; organisation of joint summer school type activities; dissemination and outreach activities.  

Proposals should also focus on strengthening the research management and administration skills of the coordinating institution from the Widening country. Proposals should equally pay attention to gender equality objectives, in line with the organisations’ commitments through their adopted gender equality plans, and in line with European Research Area (ERA) objectives where appropriate. The presence of a gender equality plan is an eligibility criterion. 

Finally, the Twinning proposals should illustrate quantitatively and qualitatively the expected potential impact of the twinning exercise within the coordinating institution (and possibly at regional/national level). This is based on indicators such as expected future publications in peer reviewed journals, collaboration agreements with businesses, intellectual property, new innovative services and the number of international students or women scientists in research institutions. 

What do Twinning success stories look like? 

MicoBion - Microbial Communities in Biomedical and Environmental Areas and Systems Biology (Czechia) 

The project focused on microbial communities and their impact on health and the environment. It helped in the fight against COVID19, in the discovery of new viruses, and in the identification of new biomarkers for diseases, drug targets and their applications. The project strengthened the scientific excellence and innovation at the Charles University and its Biotechnology and Biomedicine Center (Czechia), with the collaboration with the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Germany) and the University Paris Diderot-Institute Jacques Monod (France). 


SIRAMM - Structural Integrity and Reliability of Advanced Materials obtained through Additive Manufacturing (Romania) 

With the help of an Additive Manufacturing (AM) technique, SIRAMM developed lighter, stronger and optimized polymer-based materials, used in diverse fields such as aeronautics, biomedical and automotive sectors. Also known as 3D printing, AM allows reaching new frontiers in building parts made of various materials. This joint initiative included the University Politehnica Timisoara (Romania) and two partners from low R&I performing countries: the University of Belgrade (Serbia) and the Institute of Physics of Materials, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (Czechia). These institutes networked with two internationally leading institutions at European level: the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway) and the University of Parma (Italy). 


WideHEalth - Widening Research on Pervasive and eHealth (North Macedonia) 

WideHEalth is concentrating its efforts on data-driven healthcare and human factors in pervasive health and machine learning. The overarching goal of the project is to enable a new generation of researchers in the European Widening countries to develop and adapt novel eHealth technologies exploitable in the long run in their different healthcare contexts. The project includes partners from North Macedonia, Slovenia, Portugal, Italy and Germany. 



Collaboration has no borders. It is essential for the development of the European Research Area (ERA) and is a must for the scientific community. Society as a whole benefits from European funding opportunities such as the Widening Twinning programme.  

For more information and to submit your proposals, access the Funding & Tenders portal. The 2023 Twinning call opens on 25th of April 2023 and will close on the 28th of September 2023. Join now! 


Publication date
24 April 2023
European Research Executive Agency